Analytical essay writing – Film clip analysis

Over the past month I’ve enjoyed the activity of working on several analytical essays, but not for literary texts. Instead, the study has been for the analysis of music video clips including songs and videos of “Dolphin’s Cry” by Live, “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons, “Tribute” by Tenacious D, and “Everlong” by Foo Fighters. It was a lot of fun! The essays completed include many stills and images and as such cannot be published here, but if you’d like to read some of the results you can request a copy of any essay or notes or activities for the unit via angus@gbdeducation.com.au.

Each of the analyses aims to make explicit:
• how film elements are used to construct frames and sequences
• how the images are composed and used to match the music and advance the narrative
• the effect the text might achieve upon an audience, and/or the interpretation of the text an audience might enjoy

Such study presents the challenge of recognising both the how and the why for the craft of a director, rather than for a writer, and as such the metalanguage to describe such demonstrated skills is distinct. Nevertheless, the method of analysis as compared to that for a literary text response is similar (if easier for a student), and the structure and purpose of the writing is very much the same. Analytical writing skills are recognised in the English curriculum in Outcome 1 and Outcome 3. In Outcome 1, students can hope to achieve a detailed close reading of a specified text to exercise a metalanguage of writing techniques and meta-literary elements, and this might indeed be a film text if such is chosen by the school. I would observe that unlike students of Literature, VCE English students do not always aim to achieve such a close reading and so miss out of A+ grades for Outcome 1, whereas the inclusion of such skilful writing greatly advances their results for assessment (and their practice!). In Outcome 3 Part 1 students must achieve a detailed close reading of a specified text to exercise a metalanguage of persuasive writing techniques and meta-literary elements. As such, the analysis of the how and the why for the craft of composing a text is essential for excellent grades in VCE English.

The value for students in a unit of study of music video film clips quickly realises great advances, and often greater advances in analytical writing skills than the study of a literary text might bestow. This is because, to name a few factors: music video clips of 5 mins in length are far more compact than a book of 150+ pages; the evidence presented through visual elements can often prove simpler to identify and collect for the purposes of analysis; such texts might simply fire the interest of a Youtube generation with more success than Kindle.

Using music videos to develop the skills of text analysis and text response writing works :)
Come and see…

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