A Short Guide to Writing About Film by Timothy CorriganOne of the more frequent jobs a university professor performs is text review, and it was in this role that I first read Corrigans Short Guide. Its been around for some time, and Ive noticed that students have decidedly mixed responses to it. My responses are mixed as well.
It is true that Corrigan tends to wax a bit loquacious, letting wordy and meandering discussion often obscure the really important things he has to say. But speaking as a professor who teaches film courses and requires students to write critical essays about film, I must say that to date this is one of the best books on the market to address specifically the subject of writing about film (I think the best book is Tim Bywaters Introduction to Film Criticism--which, unfortunately, is also a ridiculously over-priced Longman title). But it bears noting that there simply arent many books available which do address this specific subject, so my praise has to be understood in that context. And its a shame that the book is priced over $40, which is a lot of money for a thin, 196 page paperback with some arguably serious flaws.
The book is divided into seven chapters: an introductory chapter explaining differences and similarities between movie reviews, theoretical essays and critical essays; a chapter about preparing to watch a movie and write about it; a chapter on film terms, concepts and writing topics; a chapter summarizing six approaches to writing about film (history, national cinemas, genres, auteurs, formalism, and ideology) with sample essays and exercises; a chapter on style and structure; and final chapters containing research advice (including internet research) and discussions of proofing, and using / citing sources. Appendices include a list of common editorial symbols, a glossary, and an index. Notable changes to the seventh edition include some helpful advice about documentary and avante-garde films, an expansion of the internet resource section, and more information about film sound. These are all welcome and significant enhancements.
There is a lot of sound advice in the text, and the sample essays are particularly helpful. But the book tries to do too many tasks (at least three big ones) and consequently, it does none of them as well as it could--or should. First, the text is part film appreciation guide, but its limited scope prevents it from effectively competing with books like Giannettis Understanding Movies or Bordwell and Thompsons Film Art: An Introduction, so any student serious about film criticism will need to read such books anyway, making Corrigans contributions in this area paltry and often superfluous. Second, the text is part style, proofreading and writing guide, but again, cheap and much more comprehensive volumes like Hackers A Writers Reference do that task far better than can Corrigan so his effort here is mostly wasted. Third, the text is part film writing primer. This is the task on which Corrigan should have limited himself, given the obvious desire to keep the book small, and this is the aspect of the book that works best. Unfortunately, effort and space wasted on the other two tasks unnecessarily restrict what Corrigan does on this score. For example, his discussions (in the first and fourth chapters) of different approaches to film criticism and of different kinds of essays about film are each limited to a few meager pages. But these are the very subjects his book should have addressed in greatest detail. As already noted, the 7th edition includes improvements in this area, but not enough
In the end, Corrigans book has lots of scattered insights and bits of advice that are great in and of themselves, but the more pertinent are under-developed and often lost in a sea of verbosity and diffusive aims. So, for the time being at least, while this may be one of the best available books on writing essays about film, it has its share of problems. It is thus almost as disappointing as it is helpful.
A short guide to writing about film
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
In other words, a sequence functions in its fullest significance and range of meaning s as it is understood to exist and as it is situated within the overall film and its contexts. Note: you may also incorporate some attention to film history and to helpful information about the director and the film from review-essays, our textbook , and if you do so, that will adjust the ratio in your essay between such "research" and your "analysis," but be sure to include a substantial, majority portion of your essay as analysis relative to the research on the film's and director's place in film history. You are to write about a post World War II film present that you select from a list that I shall provide of acclaimed films that vary by time period, culture, and genre; you may also choose a film that is listed on our course schedule on the main website derived from films mentioned in the chapters in our main film history text. Note also that if you wrote on an American film directed by John Ford or a film set in the United States for the Sequence Analysis Plus Essay, then you must write on a foreign film non-U. Watch your selected film repeatedly and take notes. Ask yourself the same kinds of questions that prompted and informed your Sequence Analysis Plus Essay.
A short guide to writing about film / Timothy Corrigan. — 8th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN (alk. paper ).
how to get your book reviewed on amazon
View larger. Request a copy. Download instructor resources. Additional order info. Buy this product. This best-selling text is a succinct guide to thinking critically and writing precisely about film. Notes Supplying Additional Commentary.