Compare and contract two international films

You can either watch and compare: Roma (Mexico) and City of God (Brazil)


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You can watch and compare: 20th Century Women (USA) and Sand Storm (Israel)


NEW ADDITION: You can watch and compare: I Lost My Body (France) and Ghost in The Shell (Japan-1996-available on YouTube with ads)

All of these films are available on Netflix.

I spoke a bit about what I expect from these papers two weeks ago, but I will give you an extremely detailed breakdown of what I am looking for when grading these papers.

You need to watch the two films of your choosing, and then compare and contrast their use of cinematic elements and thematic elements.

It might be beneficial for you to break your paper down into two sections.

Section I – Here you should choose two or three cinematic elements that you would like to compare and contrast. You can choose elements we’ve covered already in class such as:

Cinematography, Acting, Sound, Editing.

As well some elements we haven’t touched on yet, such as:

Film Structure/Narrative, Production Design, Genre Visual Effects.

I’d prefer for you to not choose to many cinematic elements here, I much rather see a strong analysis of two elements than a rushed breakdown of 5 elements.

A strong analysis should compare and contrast the use of the same element in the two films. For example, if you choose cinematography, you can focus on how the two films used the same technique and arrived at a different outcome, or how they used two unique styles, and why those styles were important. Remember that it is important to focus on the international aspect here as well. For example, is there a reason that French films or Brazilian films might use a specific type of style, or how does that style relate to the culture of the country from where the film was made.

Here is a short example from a previous student discussing sound design and how it related to the country of origin of each film:

Sound design is another very important cinematic aspect of a film. “Y Tu Mamá También”, had Latin guitars playing in certain scenes while in “Mustang”, vibrant and bold music was heard. The reason why different sound designs were used in the films is because of the location in which these movies were filmed. For instance, “Y Tu Mamá También” took place in Mexico City and Mexico is very well-known for its use of musical guitars. “Mustang” on the other hand, was filmed in Turkey where light-hearted, joyous music is the norm. This is important because it shows that each of these films chose to use music that was native to the location in which the film took place to keep the theme and atmosphere of the film consistent.

After you break down two or three cinematic elements, you should move to SECTION II – where you will be breaking down two or three thematic elements.

Now here I want you to pick two themes present in the both films you watched. Themes can range from anything from love to death, friendship, family, youth, poverty, sex, gender, strife, loss, grief, etc.

Then compare how both films tackle the theme, and touch on how the film’s country of origin may play a part in how that theme was presented.

Try to spend most of your time analyzing instead of summarizing. With such a small page count, time you spend summarizing the films is time wasted. You can provide examples to help make your point but please don’t write a whole paragraph or two explaining the plot of each film to me.

Now here is how I will grade these papers.


Did you use the textbook, and did you use it well. I am looking for student to not only quote the textbook but to use it as evidence for the arguments they are making. For example when discussing how a scene was edited and why that editing style was chosen, you can then quote the author explaining how/why your reasoning is true. Treat it almost like evidence for your analysis.

Also, it is important to use sources other than your textbook. Look for reputable sources that are discussing these films, and their use of cinematic and thematic elements.

If you do all of the above you will receive a perfect 80/80 for this category.


This entire category is dedicated to your critical analysis of these themes. It’s easy to point out the use of a cinematic or thematic element in a film. It is much harder to break down WHY that element was used in the way it was, and what that brought to the film, and ultimately shaped the film.

I want to see you connect the element to the country of origin as well, and make a good argument for that connection.

If you do all of the above you will receive a perfect 80/80 for this category.


Was the paper written in an APA style? Does it include a title page? An Abstract? A body? Proper heading? In-text citation? A reference page?

If you have all of these things you should get a perfect 40/40 for this section


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