Film Review Project

Want to know a secret? (You may not be ready for it yet, but give it time.)
History lives outside of books.
Most obviously, it lives in you – in the words you speak and don’t speak, the clothes you wear or ignore, the food you eat. It is literally coming out of your mouth when you speak since most of our words were passed to us from French, Latin, Greek, and Germanic ancestors. History is what brought your parents together (via migrations, jobs, education, leisure time, etc.) History lies snug and almost hidden in the very monitor you’re looking at now, which comes to you thanks to a long series of technological innovations that stretch back to the first transistors and TVs in the 1920s and 30s. 
History also lives in your city, town, or community. It lives in films — perhaps the most popular and common way that people learn about the past today. 
The aim of this project is for you to be the historian and to analyze historical films in light of the material we are learning in this, our Western Civilization class. 
The History Film Review Project: What to Do

For this assignment you will choose a film that deals in some significant way with the material we have studied or will study in this class and watch it critically — as a historian would.
Your film must focus on Western Civilization in the period from pre-history to about 1400 c.e.
A list of possible films to choose from is given below. If you would like to suggest a film for this assignment, shoot me an email and argue for its inclusion in our list. If I approve it, you can use it for this assignment.

Heads up: Writing a film review often requires multiple viewings of the film. Plan to watch the film two or even three times. During the first viewing, surrender yourself to the cinematic experience; in other words, get lost in the narrative and enjoy the film without worrying about the answers you will eventually write.
During your second viewing, try distancing yourself from the plot and instead focus on interesting elements of the film that link up significantly with the material we cover in this class, the material you’ve encountered in the assigned readings. These significant linkages are the heart of this Project. 
Read that again: “These significant linkages are the heart of this Project.”

After watching the film of your choosing, you will write a film review about it. That review must, at minimum, be 1,500 words long. In that review, you will answer the following questions in the order in which they appear here — and entirely in your own words:
 

(Use about 200 words, no more. I’ve seen the film!) Write a synopsis, or summary, of the film, starting by giving the title of the film, when it was made, and who directed it. Make sure that your summary makes sense to a reader who does not know the movie.

(Use about 100 words) Where is the action set in the film (not the literal action — where it was shot — but where it pretends to be filmed)? When does the action take place in the film’s story? (present the time depicted as accurately as you can: give us some brief context. This question is not asking when the film was made, but when the action of the film pretends to take place). Is the story chronological (according to the order of time) or does it have flashbacks? 

(Use about 800 words) An important question: Given the material we’ve explored in our class (textbook, lecture, primary sources), how historically accurate is the film in portraying the period its makers have tried to represent or depict? “Very accurate”  or “pretty accurate” is not enough and will earn you a poor grade. Raise your game: Dissect the film as an historian would and show us its historical strengths and weaknesses. (Remember, the historical accuracy of the film is more important in this assignment than its entertainment value.)

(Use about 200 words) If you were the historical consultant to the director of the film (name him or her), what of significance is missing from this representation of the past (the film) that should be mentioned to the director? Why should it be mentioned? 

Please observe the recommended word lengths for each question. The minimum word count for your review essay is 1,500 words. Write no more than 1600 if you wish to exceed the minimum word requirement.
Other Requirements

Has the student in their film-review essay —
 

Demonstrated factual and chronological knowledge of the key events, themes, and people that we have covered so far in our assigned work? Have they been the historian as film reviewer?

Demonstrated the ability to interpret historical information by using analytical skills, such as using the textbook and primary sources skillfully, contextualizing, and comparing and contrasting them

Cited (given proper credit to) the sources used by using quotation marks to set off the words of others and citing sources? (for example: Mr. Van, “The Principal Themes in our Class,” http:lavc.canvas.3495968). What is plagiarism? Have you avoided it?

Used no other outside sources other than the assigned readings, primary sources, and chosen film — unless otherwise directed by the instructor?

Written a clear, grammatically correct, well-organized review essay, free of misspellings and basic writing rules? Has s/he punctuated properly? Do they announce their film in the first paragraph and answer ALL of the assignment questions in the order in which they appear? Do they finish their review essay with a conclusion? That is, have they written college-level work?

The Deadline
Your History Film Review Project is due December 12th, 2020. No late work will be accepted. Work submitted other than on this page will not be graded. 
All of these films can be found on streaming services, in libraries, on Google Play, Amazon Prime, and many other outlets. Be resourceful and search for them. Start early in your search so that you can find them well before the deadline. If you are not planning ahead, you are planning to fail. Submitting Your Work
The Film Review Essay must bear your name, and it must answer the questions above in the order in which they appear, keeping each section to about the length specified in the question.
The Review Essay must be submitted in one of the following filetypes: pdf, doc, docs. No exceptions. If I can’t open your paper file, it will be the same as not having submitted it. You will receive a 0 for this assignment.
Click on the “Submit Assignment” button on the upper right of this page to submit your Film Review Essay. 
 
You are far too intelligent to wait until the last few hours of the day of the deadline to upload your work: the server will likely be overwhelmed and you may miss the deadline. If you are not planning ahead, you are planning to fail. At the very least, you are tempting fate. No late work will be accepted. 

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