Essay Titles You Dreaded to Write AboutNovember 30, 2015

The objective of modules on cinema was to install confidence on students, while assessing and appreciating cinema films. But some essay titles kept you wide awake at nights. You don't have a clue on your opening lines, until the few hours before deadline. And it happened more than once.

You managed to get a pass mark, prompting you to look back at the module. After all, you have more cinema modules to consider next term. And reviewing might give you pointers. Here are some:

Can a film be too beautiful to look at? You would think of Peter Jackson's adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings", especially the scene where Gandalf confronted the Balrog at Moria. And then you wondered if computer-generated special effects was prevalent during the turn of the 21st century. You tried to think of older pictures with subtitles. You cringed at the thought of "Fata Morgana". (Great images of the desert, but you couldn't stand the long shots. The sun blinded you.) And your thoughts turned to black and white pictures. Ingmar Bergman came to mind. You were saddened at his solemn shots, yet you were impressed at the austerity and subtle messages. It was too beautiful for you, but it may be confusing to the others.

Good cinema is courage, honesty and passion. Tell it to Michael Bay. This statement would differentiate a Hollywood picture from a movie with English subtitles. But all filmmakers agree that making a film can be a gamble. It involves lots of money. You bare your soul, which the critics may not like at all. And it might be a bomb at the box-office. But this is better than what if.

Who am I to tell you what's right or wrong? You don't see current filmmakers imposing moral judgment on their characters, but this wasn't the case during the studio era. Maybe it wasn't a jaded world. It could have been a less-compelling picture if viewers were neutral. It would be worse if they don't feel it. But you wouldn't know. As any film buff would attest, they hardly remember a film the day after watching it. Unless it's really good. You're afraid the question will be asked again (next term), but you have time to think.

A film may be evaluated by how much it relies on words to convey its meaning or arouse emotion. Now, you remembered Hollywood. And how the manipulative screenplay turned you into a cynic. (Your coursemates thought you were too good for them. You were defensive, but there was no need.) But cinema is a language of images. Then again, only film enthusiasts would know.

What justifications can there be for turning either classic novels or classic plays into films? You don't have time to read the manuscripts, much less the loaned books from the library. And you won't recall much what you found in the Internet. The authors won't see it as a good excuse, but you can tell it to your tutor.

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