Film Review Assignment

You are required to write two short film reviews in this course.
Each review should answer the following question:
Is this film a useful educational resource for college students learning about the history of the United States during the period it covers? Why or why not? In your answer, critically analyze the film’s interpretation of events (does it represent its subject in a fair and accurate way?) as well as its aesthetic qualities (is watching it an enjoyable experience?).
You do not need to provide citations or a Works Cited page, but do include the full name of the film, the director, the production company, and the year of release in the first paragraph. Your review should 1) state a thesis in the first introduction about whether or not the film is a useful educational resource, 2) provide specific examples in the body section to support your thesis, 3) provide a critical analysis of the film’s interpretation of events, and 4) assess the film’s aesthetic qualities (visuals, sound, and overall enjoyability). Finally, the conclusion of your review should
5) summarize your overall assessment of the film.
Each film review should be at least 1,000 words (4-5 pages), written in Microsoft Word in 12- point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with a header in the upper lefthand corner of the first page listing your first and last name, instructor’s name, the course number, date, and the title of the assignment.
Film Review Grade Rubric: format and length requirements (25%), thesis statement (25%), body section with evidence from film supporting thesis (25%), critical analysis of film’s interpretation of events (10%), assessment of aesthetic qualities (10%), spelling/editing (5%).
Film Review Grade Rubric Checklist (consult this before submitting your review)
-Is your film on the list for film review #1 or film review #2 (see pp. 2-3 below)?
-Does your review follow the format guidelines above for length and the first page header?
-Does your review follow the format guidelines above for font and spacing?
-Is the first line of each paragraph indented (five typed space or 0.5 inches), with no extra spaces between paragraphs?

  • Is your thesis (i.e., your answer to the question in italics above) clearly stated in the introduction?
  • In your body section, does each paragraph contain a topic sentence that relates to your thesis? (Do not just summarize the film’s contents. Explain how your examples support your thesis.)
  • Does the review include at least one criticism of the film’s interpretation of events (is the film biased or inaccurate in any way, or does it leave out something important)? Or, if you think the film is perfect, do you discuss any possible criticisms others may have?

Spring 2024

-Does the review include an assessment of the film’s aesthetic qualities (visuals, audio, overall
pleasantness of the viewing experience)?
-Did you summarize your overall assessment of the film in the conclusion?
-Did you spell check for errors?
Grade Scale: A to A+ (93-100): fully meets all requirements; A- (90-92): meets almost all requirements; B- to B+ (80-89): meets most requirements; C- to C+ (70-79): meets some requirements; D+ to D- (60-69): meets few requirements; F (0-59): meets zero or close to zero requirements.
Film Review #1
Choose one of the following films for Film Review #1 (all films available on the Alexander Street streaming service:
Progressives, Populists, and Reform in America, 1890-1917 (Guidance Associates, 1976)
Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists (Pacific Street Films, 1980)
Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice (California Newsreel 1989)
The House That Jane Built (Cinema Guild 1990)
The Prohibition Years (A & E, 1993)
Thomas A. Edison: Father of Invention (A & E Television Networks, 1996)
The Geography of Hope (PBS 1996)
W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in 4 Voices (California Newsreel, 1996)
Ken Burns’ The West Episode 7 or 8 (PBS 1996)
The Great Tribes (A & E 1997)
Andrew Carnegie: Prince of Steel (A & E 1997)
The Spanish-American War (A&E 1998) The Rockefellers (A & E 2002) Yearning to Breathe Free (PBS 2003)
America Becomes a World Power (Media Rich Communications, 2004)
Labor’s Struggle (Dallas County Community College District, 2005)
Theodore Roosevelt: A Cowboy’s Ride to the White House (Janson Media 2011)
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Episode 3 or 4 (PBS 2013)
Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation, Episode 1 (PBS 2013)
The Italian Americans (PBS 2014), Episode 1, 2, or 3
The Sand Creek Massacre (American Public Television, 2014)
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 (PBS 2014)
The Gilded Age (PBS 2018)
The Great War, Parts 1 OR 2 (PBS 2018) The Chinese Exclusion Act (PBS 2018) Reconstruction, Parts 1-2 (PBS 2019) One Woman, One Vote (PBS 2020)

Film Review #2
Choose one of the following films for Film Review #2 (all films available on Alexander Street):
The Woman’s Film (Third World Newsreel, 1971)
Who Killed Vincent Chin? (Filmmakers Library, 1990)
Coal Wars: The Battle in Rum Creek (Filmmakers Library, 1993)
The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle (Cinema Guild, 1996)
A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom (California Newsreel, 1996)
Harry S. Truman: Days of Decision (A & E, 1996)
Apollo 13 (A&E, 2000)
Cold War and Beyond (Landmark Media, 2004; choose one of the 4 episodes in this series)
America in the 20th Century Episode 78: World War II (Media Rich Learning, 2004)
Sir! No Sir! (Bullfrog Films, 2005)
Eyes on the Prize, PBS 2006; choose one of the 8 episodes in this series)
Way of the Warrior (Vision Maker Media, 2006)
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (PBS, 2007)
Death in Memphis: The Mysterious Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Film Ideas, 2010)
Iranian Odyssey (SW Pictures, 2010)
Murder in New York: Malcolm X and the Birth of Afro-Americanism (Film Ideas, 2010)
Freedom Archives: COINTELPRO 101 (MVD Entertainment Group, 2011)
Stonewall Uprising, Parts 1-2 (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2011)
Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America (Third World Newsreel, 2012)
Ann Braden: Southern Patriot (California Newsreel, 2012)
Risking it All (BBC, 2013)
Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation, Episodes 3, 4, 5, or 6 (PBS 2013)
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Episode 5 or 6 (PBS 2013)
JFK (PBS, 2013)
1964 (PBS, 2014)
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (Cinema Guild, 2014)
Dick Cavett’s Watergate (PBS, 2014)
Losing Iraq (PBS 2014)
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (PBS 2015)
Goldwater/Reagan: The Conservatives (PBS, 2016)
Ken Burns’ Vietnam (PBS, 2017) (choose one of the 10 episodes in this series)
Cocaine, Cartels, and Crackdowns (A&E 2017) Divided States of America Parts 1-2 (PBS 2017) George W. Bush Parts 1 and 2 (PBS, 2020)

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