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A Short Guide to Writing About Film [Paperback]

Timothy Corrigan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 May 2003 0321096657 978-0321096654 5

Both an introduction to film study and a practical writing guide, this brief text introduces students to film terms and the major film theories to enable them to write more critically. With numerous student and professional examples along the way, this engaging and practical guide progresses from taking notes and writing first drafts to creating polished essays and comprehensive research projects. Moving from movie reviews to theoretical and critical essays, the text demonstrates how an analysis of a film becomes more subtle and rigorous as part of a compositional process.



Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 5 edition (29 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321096657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321096654
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.2 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 513,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Timothy Corrigan is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now 16 Mar 2006
By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
One thing I can say is I enjoy a good film. O.K. if it moves I’ll watch it. But until I read this book I really was just looking with out seeing.
It is nice to have this guide confirm what one knows as common sense. Probably because the guide is designed to take you from ground zero to a level of appreciation and allow you to convey your opinion intelligently.
If you have an earlier edition you will still get the essence of the book. Newer editions add different resources and research information.
Some of the highlights are:
• A shot-by shot analysis of a sequence from the film “Potemkin”
• Suggestions on using the Internet
• Sample student writing
Some contents:
Writing about the Movies
Preparing to Watch and Preparing to Write
Film Terms and Topics
Six Approaches to writing about Film
Style and Structure in Writing
Researching the Movies
Manuscript Form
This guide is an eye opener.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely useful! 7 April 2007
Format:Paperback
Whereas a lot of books out there tell you how to view and appreciate a film, there is not much guidance as to how to put these impressions into words. We all watch films on a regular basis and might be able to discuss them somewhat knowledgeably, but neverthess writing a review, a screening report or even a film analysis can be a difficult and intimidating task. Corrigan's book fills tis gap. This book does not only provide theoretical advise, but it is also full of sample texts written by critics, academics or students. Anybody writing on film will find this book immensely useful and very hands-on. It is very clearly structured and very "econimically" written, a style Corrigan advocates throughout. I read this book from start to finish when I first bought it and still go back to it on a regular basis when I feel stuck writing a film analysis. This book is invaluable!!!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful and interesting book 26 Dec 2003
Format:Paperback
As a film student this book was on our list of books in the first term, and has proved to be incredably helpful! Even though I studied A-level film and knew a lot by the time I started my Degree, I still struggled when it came to writing essays and this book guides you onto the right path in terms of film anaylising. Now in my second year we are expected to write more sophisticated work, but I still use this book as a guide whenever I'm stuck and can always gain something new from it everytime I use it. Well worth buying if you are a student.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful guide to writing about film 22 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent guide to writing about film but also works as an aid to viewing film. It is very well written and easy to read, a novice would have no problem understanding the terms and references.
If you love film with this insight you will love it even more.
It is a useful tool for all types of writing about film and covers different types of writing from the review through to the academic essay.
A must have for anyone interested in writing about or even producing their own films.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent guide 5 Dec 1999
By Al Kihano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is an invaluable guide to writing about film. If you've never taken a film class, you need a book like this to get you used to the vocabulary, style and format of film criticism and theory. Numerous examples and lucid prose make this book easy to use and to read.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pricey but Diffusive Writing Guide 19 Jun 2009
By T. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Corrigan's Short Guide has been around for some time, and I've 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 Bywater's "Introduction to Film Criticism"--which, unfortunately, is also a ridiculously over-priced Longman title). But it bears noting that there simply aren't many books available which do address this specific subject, so my praise has to be understood in that context. And it's 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 Giannetti's "Understanding Movies" or Bordwell and Thompson's "Film Art: An Introduction," so any student serious about film criticism will need to read such books anyway, making Corrigan's 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 Hacker's "A Writer's 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, Corrigan's book has lots of scattered insights and bits of advice that are great in and of themselves, but the more pertinent are sometimes 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.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligence and accessibility 1 Aug 2000
By mitry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This a marvelous book, packed with information and much more accessible than far more expensive books. It's the perfect companion for almost any film course since it not only introduces students to the language and methods of film analysis (including how to take notes) but does so while guiding students through the work of writing a good essay (with great suggestions for doing research). The writing is clear and accurate (with none of the errors referred to by the Kenosha reviewer). I recommend it without hesitation to all students of film.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've looked at clouds from both sides now 9 April 2007
By bernie - Published on Amazon.com
One thing I can say is I enjoy a good film. O.K. if it moves I'll watch it. But until I read this book I really was just looking with out seeing.

It is nice to have this guide confirm what one knows as common sense. Probably because the guide is designed to take you from ground zero to a level of appreciation and allow you to convey your opinion intelligently.

If you have an earlier edition you will still get the essence of the book. Newer editions add different resources and research information.

Some of the highlights are:

* A shot-by shot analysis of a sequence from the film "Potemkin"

* Suggestions on using the Internet

* Sample student writing

Some contents:

Writing about the Movies

Preparing to Watch and Preparing to Write

Film Terms and Topics

Six Approaches to writing about Film

Style and Structure in Writing

Researching the Movies

Manuscript Form

This guide is an eye opener.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Intro to Film Study 9 Sep 2007
By C. J. Singh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Timothy Corrigan, in the preface to "A Short Guide to Writing About Films, sixth edition," says, "Writing essays about films is, in short, one of the most sophisticated ways to respond to them." In this concise book, he lucidly explains how to write screen reports, movie reviews, as well as theoretical and critical essays on films.

Here's a sample of his lucid writing. Defining terms often used in film study: mise-en-scene -- "the arrangement of the so-called theatrical elements before they are actually filmed; these include sets, lighting, costumes, and props"; shot/reverse shot -- "an editing pattern that cuts between individuals according to the logic of their conversation"; jump cut -- "a cut within the continuous action of a shot, creating a spatial or temporal jump or discontinuity within the action."

Moreover, this updated edition explains the supplementary features often included in DVDs such as story boards, behind-the-scene documentaries, and interviews with the cast and crews.

Even if you don't intend to write about films, reading this blessedly brief book will enhance your enjoyment of watching films. Five shining stars.

-- C J Singh
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