For this assignment you’re to write a paper of approximately 2,000 words in length (New Times Roman 12 font, double-spaced = 7-8 pages). You are strongly encouraged to select your essay topic from the list of topics offered below. The subject topics range from one of the genres studied in class (horror, western, melodrama) to one of the post‑World War II film movements studied in class (New Wave Iranian Cinema, Italian Neo-Realism, Soviet Socialist Realism, Contemporary Japanese Cinema). This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of suggested topics, but a selective offering. In some cases the topics can be modified to fit a different film/genre. I am also willing to entertain personalized topics, if there is one that you feel very strongly about that cannot be accommodated by this list (i.e. if you want to write on the avant-garde or documentary). However, any modification from this list, or personalized essay topic must be approved by your instructor. Pleased include a word count at the end of the essay, and when you perform any kind of formal scene or shot analysis please provide a DVD/BD time code at the end of the description (i.e. 35’20” = thirty-five minutes and twenty seconds). The essay is due on Wednesday, April 9 at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema office, FB-319, before 5:00pm (alternatively you may hand the paper in class on April 7). There should be a box on the desk with my name or the course code for you to place your paper in. If you are writing on New Iranian Cinema, your essay is due at the Cinema office by 5:00pm on April 16. If you want your final essay returned with comments you must provide an SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope), otherwise your paper will be recycled. It is strongly recommended that in preparation for your essay you review The Film Experience, Ch. 12, “Writing a Film Essay,” pp. 435-467 which will help you in terms of doing research, properly sourcing your citations, taking notes, and organising your paper.
1. “Violence in the classic Hollywood western, as Loy argued, is ‘socially necessary,’ a means toward a noble end, and when used in this light it represented "manly virtue" (Loy 101). The violence pictured between cowboys and Indians, the Cavalry and the Confederates, are all necessary struggles in the larger process of civilization that will ultimately lead to the realisation of a utopian community the settlers were destined to build in this new-found land” (Evert Jan Van Leeuwen). Discuss this quote in relation to the classic American western and then compare its meaning to either Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven or Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. 2. “Leone's western world parodies Hollywood's western ideology of manifest destiny and heroic masculinity by highlighting the complete disintegration of community, family, and moral values under the rule of masculine violence and a selfish will to power” (Evert Jan Van Leeuwen).
Use this quote as a starting point to discuss how Sergio Leone’s vision works against the classic Hollywood “western ideology.”
3. In his essay “Gothic Eurowesterns A Grotesque Perspective on a Hollywood Myth” Jan Van Leeuwen analyzes the European spaghetti western from what he calls a “grotesque perspective.” Explain what he means by a “grotesque perspective” and gives examples of this from either Django or any one (or more) of the Dollars trilogy films.
3b. OR. At the end of his essay he notes two American variants in the shape of Eastwood’s, High Plains Drifter (1973) and Pale Rider (1985). Can Leeuwen’s ideas of the “grotesque perspective” be applied to Eastwood’s films? How do Eastwood’s films differ from the Italian films?
4. In your textbook (pp. 321-325, 341-351) they discuss genre as a type of modern myth, explaining aspects of ourselves through stories, characters and visual tropes. Discuss either the western or the horror genre as it relates to this idea of genre as myth. For the western...
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