Paper III: Film Analysis
For your final essay, you will watch The
Milagro Beanfield War (1988), a movie about a New Mexican
community that rallies behind a farmer who unintentionally uses the
supply of a rich and powerful developer.
This may be the first time that you have looked
at a film as a literary text. Films contain many of the same
traditional, printed literary texts: plot, point of view,
symbolism, setting, tone, and theme. In addition, film includes such
audio-visual elements as lighting, set design, costuming,
Your goal for this essay is to isolate a particular aspect of The Milagro Beanfield War (a character, a scene, a literary/cinematic device) and then write an essay in which you analyze and interpret this element. You want to be sure to limit yourself to a very focused topic as this essay is rather short (see below).
As you analyze and write about film, remember that you aren't writing a review. Reviews are generally subjective: they explore an individual's response to a film and so do not require research, analysis, and so on. As a result, reviews are often both simplistic (thumbs up, thumbs down) and "clever" (employing the pun-driven or sensational turns of phrase of popular magazines). While reviews can be useful and even entertaining pieces of prose, they generally don't qualify as "academic writing."
You may want to rent (or check out from the
video to watch at home in order to find specific scenes and quotations.
Credits: The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Director: Robert Redford
Screenplay: David Ward and John Nichols
Based on the Novel by John Nichols
Studio: Universal Studios
Sheriff Montoya: Ruben Blades
Ladd Devine: Richard Bradford
Ruby Archuleta: Sonia
Nancy Mondragon: Julie Carmen
Joe Mondragon: Chick Vennera
Herbie Platt: Daniel Stern
Charlie Bloom: John Heard
Flossie Devine: Melanie Griffith
Amarante Cordova: Carlos Riquelme
You will need to include:
√ A title that gives your readers a sense of your specific topic and argument.
√ A clear, interpretive thesis.
√ Examples from the text to support your points of analysis.
√ Four pages of text. (You need to be well onto the fourth page to fulfill assignment requirements.)
√ A Works Cited page that includes the film. (You do not need any outside sources for this paper, but if you use them, they also need to appear on your Works Cited page.)
Because films do not have page numbers, parenthetical citations from the film
will contain only the title.
MLA Citations for Film:
[Title of the Film]. Dir. [name of Director]. Perf. [names of primary performers]. [Name
of studio], [year of release].
It's a Wonderful Life. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel
Barrymore. RKO, 1946.