Open thread
Who are Kit and Holly?

First Thematic Essay

Topic and direction:

  • Write a critical analysis of mise-en-scène (m-e-s) in the films of Terrence Malick based on course screenings, readings, and discussions.
  • As a way of explaining or illustrating your argument, your analysis should include a close reading of at least one of the frame grabs from each film in the group posted to the blog for the Film Analysis assignment. You may also use an image, or images, of your choosing.
  • Note that “critical” in this context means to be detailed in your analysis, not judgmental as to quality. Think about what is visually distinctive about Malick's films.
  • As you select elements or points for discussion, consider the contributions of other "authors" to the look and feel of the films. For example, the directors of photography or the production designers.

Additional guidelines and requirements:

  • As a formal academic paper, this essay should have a clear thesis, or central argument, to make. Sample prompts for this essay: “Mise-en-scène (m-e-s) in Terrence Malick's films is defined by …”, or, “In Badlands, Days of Heaven and The New World, the filmmakers use mise-en-scène (m-e-s) to the following effect …”
  • Essays should cite and document sources following these guidelines.
  • Films should be cited as follows. The first reference should provide a complete title and a date of release in parentheses, e.g., Days of Heaven (1978) (note that the film title is italicized). Subsequent references need only include the title. For films with longer titles, such as The New World, subsequent references can use a truncated title, as in World or New World. Film titles do not need to be included in the list of cited works.
  • Initial reference to mise-en-scène should use the full term. For subsequent references, “m-e-s” is acceptable. You can follow this guideline for all specialized terms.
  • There is no page requirement or limit for this paper, but use four to eight (5-8) as a guide.
  • Essays should be double-spaced with reasonably-sized fonts and margins (readability should be your goal). Number your pages.
  • Be specific in referencing names of filmmakers, characters, places, etc. IMDB and Wikipedia are both good sources for basic information about films and film productions.
  • For guidance on writing academic essays, refer to the resources I have on this page, including the WOU Writing Center. You can also consult with me. For longer questions or to have me review drafts, come to office hours. Shorter questions can be handled electronically via e-mail or on IM or over the phone (503-838-8296). You can also ask for advice via the class blog.

Due date and submission:

  • If you choose to write on this essay (remember, you will write on two of the three essays with an opportunity to rewrite the first), schedule a due date with me individually that should fall between M 4/29 and F 5/10.
  • You should schedule your due date for this essay by the end of the day (11:59 pm) on W 4/24.
  • Submit your work electronically by the agreed upon date following these guidelines. For the assignment in the filename, use “Malick”.
  • You will have until the end of your due day (11:59 pm) to either submit your paper or arrange an extension for full credit.
  • The first essay you write is worth fifteen (15) points towards your grade.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lucas Ashland

Would it be a good idea to include stills from the films in our essay?

Shaun Huston

Lucas: That depends on whether it would be useful for you to do so or not. If it would help your analysis and argument to have the image to refer to, then yes.

The comments to this entry are closed.