ITAL320 Fall2017 Second Paper Assignment The Boundaries of Neorealism: La Strada by Fellini
What is the purpose of this paper?
̊ To practice claim-based argumentation using a tightly focused analysis ̊ To demonstrate purposeful use of focused cinematic evidence
̊ To begin to explore unique arguments using film
̊ To articulate why what is being argued matters
What will I be doing?
Despite the fact that Fellini’s La Strada is not technically or theoretically (according to some critics) a neorealist work, it is a film that does not peacefully accept society or humanity. While perhaps we cannot liken La Strada to the historically specific message of films like Bicycle Thieves, we can discern another kind of social criticism in Fellini’s film. What is the message of La Strada, and how does neorealist aesthetics allow it to convey that message? You can start by defining what you feel is the real conflict between Gelsomina and Zampanò and then examining their relationship as it evolves throughout the narrative. You will discuss character and plot structure in your paper (i.e., conflict, turning point, climax, falling action) as well as the cinematic techniques used in these moments. What does Fellini attempt to communicate about human relations in general through this specific relationship? Is it a hopeful message or not? Could it be expanded to a broader criticism of social institutions such as marriage and patriarchy? Be sure to cite your works carefully (see MLA link here) and the works of Millicent Marcus, Peter Bondanella, or any other film critic who has contributed to this debate (such as André Barzin). As well, visit Blackboard for additional texts of film criticism, and especially consult the link below to Karen Gocsik and Richard Barsam’s Writing about Movies.
Where do I start?
Re-watch La Strada in its entirety. As you watch, find a still image from the film that is related to the theme you have chosen. Note: a good image will have formal, compositional elements that lend themselves to interpretation and somehow tie into tropes/motif the films have set up; do not pick an image solely based on emotion/situation. You are required to include your film stills at the end of each paper.
I advise that you begin with a close reading of one image. Without resorting to the use of time codes, first describe when it is that we encounter this image (sequence) in the
chronology of the narrative. Provide as part of your analysis a very careful description of the significant elements that make up the image. Imagine that you are describing this still to someone who has not seen the film, or that you are giving someone instructions on how to reproduce this still image. Exactly what do we see in the frame (camera distance, shot composition, lighting (if significant), what objects predominate, what draws our attention in the frame (i.e. elements in the foreground? background? etc), what’s the direction of the gaze(s) within the frame (if relevant)? Useful terms for describing where things are in the frame are foreground, middle-ground, background, screen right and screen left. Your job is not to be comprehensive about the entire film narrative, but to provide a description and interpretation of this image. At the end of this process, you will come up with a thesis that encapsulates your original conclusion at which you have arrived by means of this process.
Now you are ready to assemble/write your paper. Be sure to structure your paper accordingly, with an introduction that frames your theme and sets forth your thesis, and which will begin the line of argumentation for the rest of your paper. Your close reading will be integrated into the body of the paper as they fit your line of argumentation. At the end of the paper, be sure to provide a compelling conclusion that summarizes your findings and gestures broadly to the implications of your conclusions.
Remember that your paper must have a clearly defined thesis (a debatable claim) in the first paragraph, strong arguments and evidence throughout, and a concluding paragraph. Proofread for mechanical errors. Pay attention to transitions between paragraphs. You can view the Grading Rubric for an idea of how we compute your grade. You can also view the Writing Advice document for some specific tips on formatting and style (this is located under Course Content on Bb).
What are the guidelines for the paper?
1. It must be 3-4 pages (900 to 1,100 words maximum).
2. It must articulate a narrow, argumentative (which means that someone could debate your point), and substantial claim.
3. It must refer to specific still images from La Strada.
4. It must be properly formatted (MLA guidelines; see link on Blackboard).
5. It must be submitted through SafeAssign (a plagiarism prevention service) on Blackboard by 12noon on November 14th, 2017.
6. Label your file as follows (please label this on your computer first, as it will not matter if you change the file name after you upload it