Home » Movie analysis paper | college student development | University of Virginia

Movie analysis paper | college student development | University of Virginia

This paper focuses on the analysis of the developmental process(es) of the main character(s) in a 12-15 page paper based on a movie from the list below.  There may be more than one developmental process occurring in the theme of the movie and you should give attention to each type of development present.

You should include at least 5 peer-reviewed sources.  While you are welcome to use our textbook, please utilize additional sources.  Required and recommended readings provided in class count toward the 5 sources. You may include websites as additional sources, but they do not count toward the required 5.

Steps to Analysis:

  1. Become familiar with the film: Have a solid understanding of the work you will analyze. Being able to have the whole movie in your head—at least in a general way—when you begin thinking through ideas will be a great help and will actually allow you to write the paper more quickly in the long run. It’s even a good idea to spend some time just thinking about the story. Scan through the movie and consider what interests you about this film—what seemed strange, new, or important?
  2. Explore developmental topics: This is where you begin to develop your interpretation of the film based on the developmental theories we cover in class. Consider patterns, recurring themes, problems, challenges, etc.
  3. Write out a working thesis: What are the main developmental theories that you would like to explore?
  4. Make an extended list of evidence supporting the thesis. Once you have a working thesis in mind, skim back over the story and make a more comprehensive list of the details that relate to your point. At this point, you want to include anything that might be useful, and you also want to avoid the temptation to arrive at definite conclusions about your topic. One of the qualities that makes for a good interpretation is that it avoids the obvious. You want to develop complex ideas, and the best way to do that is to keep your ideas flexible until you’ve considered the evidence carefully. A good gauge of complexity is whether you feel you understand more about your topic than you did when you began (and even just reaching a higher state of confusion is a good indicator that you’re treating your topic in a complex way).
  5. Select your evidence: Once you’ve made your expanded list of evidence, decide which supporting details are the strongest. First, select the facts that bear the closest relation to your thesis statement. Select the details that will allow you to present your own reasoning skills and allow you to help the reader see the story in a way he or she may not have seen it before.
  6. Organize your evidence: The ideas that tie these clusters of evidence together can then become the claims that you’ll make in your paper. As you begin thinking about what claims you can make (i.e. what kinds of conclusion you can come to) keep in mind that they should not only relate to all the evidence but also clearly support your thesis. Once you’re satisfied with the way you’ve grouped your evidence and with the way that your claims relate to your thesis, you can begin to consider the most logical way to organize each of those claims.
  7. Interpret your evidence: Avoid the temptation to load your paper with evidence from your story. Each time you use a specific reference to your story, be sure to explain the significance of that evidence in your own words. To get your readers’ interest, you need to draw their attention to elements of the story that they wouldn’t necessarily notice or understand on their own. If you’re quoting passages without interpreting them, you’re not demonstrating your reasoning skills or helping the reader. In most cases, interpreting your evidence merely involves putting into your paper what is already in your head.

Movie Options (only choose one):

1. 21

2. Boys Don’t cry

3.Good Will Hunting

4. Into the Wild 

5. Mona Lisa Smile

6. Uncorked

7. Whiplash

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