Project #53635 - Critical Analysis (Please use the documentaries given below)

Please use notes from readings!


CW1 Critical Analysis (25%) - 2000 words.


Final deadline Friday May 1st 2015 11.59 pm via Turnitin

But to help you prepare for this, you will be asked to watch and critically analyse films during Term 1, and to prepare a draft essay using a template available on Turnitin ready for submission in Week 12.


Essay Question:

Choose documentaries that can include the ones you have been introduced to during Term 1 and compare and contrast them with reference to the module’s screenings and readings. (2000 words)


This is your chance to use what you have learned through your readings and screenings to show that you can critically other people’s films.  It is a criticalevaluation written in the form of an essay, and needs to refer to secondary sources such as readings and other films that you have watched. To help you prepare for this, you will be asked to prepare a draft essay for submission in Week 12. Your tutor will then feed back on this ready for you to revise it, and make minor additions based on your studies in term 2, before submitting the final version at the beginning of May.


The essay needs to draw on the insights provided by you lectures, and in your readings as to what questions to ask  when analyzing a film. But below are some key questions to consider:


·         What was the name of the film and what was its theme and subject?

·         Was it a subject worth investigating, and if so why?

·         Was the film subject or character driven?

·         How did the film conform to or stray from the principle of  ‘think, feel and act?”

·         How did it negotiate issues relating to the representation of reality?

·         What mode or modes did the film employ?

·         How did it address its audience?

·         How was the ‘story’ structured, and was this effective?

·         What conventions could you identify?

·         Did the film counter any conventions or not and if so how?

·         What evidence was marshalled and how?

·         To what extent was it filmic?

·         What was the balance between showing and telling?

·         Was atmosphere and mood important and if so, how was it achieved?

·         How did it approach the use of participants?

·         How were the interviews handled and were they effective?

·         How was narration handled?

·         How did the camera work contribute to or detract from the film’s aims?

·         Did the film raise any ethical considerations?

·         How was sound and music used and was it effective?

·         How was editing used and was it effective?

·         Did the film give the sense of having a guiding ‘directorial’ vision behind it?


Assessment criteria:

  • Evidence of engagement with the module’s and other readings
  • Evidence of engagement with other visual texts (films etc.)
  • Precision and clarity of the content provided
  • Relevance and precision of the evidence and example provided

o   Proofreading for grammar and spelling

  • Correctly formatted: 12- point type, and double-spaced
  • Bibliography in alphabetical order


So what films shall I choose?


Investigating the elements of the world that interest you through watching documentary output about it will not only feed your own interests but also teach you about the way meaning is created within media texts. We are therefore happy for you to choose our own films, but to make it easier have started you off with some links, and a list of a list of films that we are happy to consider below.


If you go outside this list then the criteria we want the films to satisfy are as follows:


·         Length: 8 minutes or longer

·         Of some social relevance


NB: It is very important that the films contrast each other in some way, so that you can write about how they do that. Choosing two films that take a similar approach will not work.


Here are some of the films mentioned in the lectures


Nanook of the North – 1922 – Michael Flaherty


Man with a Movie Camera – 1929 – Dziga Vertov


The Bridge – 2006 – Eric Steel

Warning: the subject of this documentary is suicide so if you feel that it will upset you please don not watch.


Highway – 1999 – Sergei Dvortsevoy


Exit Through the Giftshop – 2010 - Banksy


Gimme Shelter – 1969 The Maysles Brothers


Listen to Britain Humphrey Jennings 1942 - 19


Night Mail 1936 Harry Watt and Basil Wright - 22


The Arbor

Sign in to the Bob database via the UEL Library using your Athens login and search for ‘The Arbor’


Vimeo Documentaries

This link will take you to over 100 shorter documentaries. Specifically look for those bout subjects that interest you, and ones that have won awards, as the quality is uneven.


The BFi list of the best documentaries of all time – that you could search for – particularly via the BOB  database



Some shorter documentaries you can choose from – extracted from the Vimeo site

Peter and Ben Dir: Pinny Grylls / UK / 2007 - 10

The apology line James Lees 2008 - 10

The Archive Dir. Sean Dunne / USA / 2008 - 8

The Lift Marc Isaacs 2001 - 25

Walking Merchandise - 2011 - 30

Everything is Incredible - Tyler Bastian 2012 - 10

Pickin & Trimmin - Matt Morriss 2011 - 19

Ray, A Life Underwater - Amanda Bluglass - 14

Talking Heads - Krzysztof Kieslowski 1980 - 14



How do I critically assess a documentary?

The notes you have been taking on your readings will have given you the vocabulary and conceptual understanding necessary to be able to articulate your analysis. The list 10 things that you extracted from your readings for week  6 will also have helped order your research. We have also watched and discussed films together, for example in Week 7.  The lecture on this subject was in week 4, and referred specifically to the following useful readings on this subject:

Subject General
Due By (Pacific Time) 01/24/2015 12:00 am
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