Film Analysis: Example, Topics, & Essay Writing Guide [2022]

Film Analysis: Example, Topics, & Essay Writing Guide [2022]

It’s hardly possible to find one who is not keen on watching films. It is one of the most common ways of spending free time. When it comes to writing a film analysis essay, you would probably be confused.

Don’t worry! We gathered everything you need to make it without a hitch. What’s more, you will find free essay samples as a bonus.

📽️ What Is a Film Analysis?

Film analysis expresses the afterview synoptic. The result is a transparent and informative thesis and its arguments.

Don’t forget you should maintain an appropriate academic style. This article explains how to manage it well, using the proper terminology, structure, techniques, etc.

Let’s go!

✍️ Film Analysis Terms

As an introduction to film analysis, explore a list of general film analysis terms. They come as an inseparable part of your film analysis essay.

Find them below.

Auteur definition.

Auteur: Definition

The auteur is the French equivalent of the English word author. The auteur’s definition is straightforward. As a rule, the film’s director is the author. Why so? Director is a core role that manages all processes: from organizing a filmmaking crew and cast to every aspect of the film.


Diegesis in films is all about the fictional world elements. Everything the director creates and transfers on the screen is diegesis. Time framework, setting, range of events, etc., are examples of those elements.

Flashback and Flashforward

Flashback and flashforward imply relating to a chronological flow of a narrative. Flashback is a scene that takes it back in time from the present point of the film.

A flashforward differs from the flashback only by the time-shifting direction: it takes the audience to the plot pieces later in the film.


The term looks confusing, but it is easy as pie. A pre-defined set of a film’s scene is a mise-en-scène. Everything in the camera’s focus: exposure, actors, and other elements form a mise-en-scène.

The Plot of a Story

The plot of a story is a sequence of events and their interactions that make up a story shown in a film.

Scene vs. Sequence

To put it simply, the scene and the sequence differ by the number of shots. The scene is short and consists of a few shots. The sequence is a more significant film part as it implies several scenes. As you may have guessed, the entire movie consists of several sequences.

📜 Film Analysis Types

The variety of possible film genres and their complexity assume more than one way to analyze them. There are several film analysis types, depending on the reviewing angle.

Narrative Analysis

This approach is similar to literary analysis. It means examining the film plot, narrative structure, motives, and characters. The research is built on answering the three simple questions: who, what, and where?

Mise-en-scène definion.

Сultural Analysis

Cultural analysis in the film is another word for contextual analysis. That typically means going beyond the inner world of the film. Apart from watching the movie and investigating the details, it implies a deep understanding of the cultural context and social and political agenda. It is both a challenging and compelling type.

Semiotic Analysis

Everything about understanding the hidden meaning of the symbols is a semiotic analysis of the film. Those symbols usually appear more than once in a movie. Also, particular directors tend to repeat specific symbols. This type of analysis requires very close attention to detail.

Mise-en-scène Analysis

We have already found what mise-en-scène is: a setting with the lighting, soundtrack, background, etc. When we focus on those audio and visual elements and their meaning, we talk about the mise-en-scène analysis. Audiovisual elements may seem insignificant at first glance, but they carry tremendous importance and power to support the plot.

📼 Film Genres List

Having grasped the basic film analysis terms and types, we move on to the starting point of film analysis. We talk about defining a film genre.

You do not have to be a cinema theorist or a crazy film fan to identify one from another. Anyways, let’s list the common film genres and describe them briefly. Please, check the table below:

Genre Description
1 Comedy Comedy is one of the pioneers in film genres. The main driver of comedy is humor. Various humor techniques aim to evoke joy and laughter in the audience. The most prominent comedy attribute is the happy ending.
2 Thriller Thriller can be described as a process of grabbing the audience’s attention from the beginning to the climax. This process is accompanied by the evocation of anticipation, thrill, surprise, anxiety, and other mentally “uncomfy” feelings.
3 Drama Probably the largest film category. Dramas portray people and their inner selves; they depict the characters from different sides and show their personal growth. Dramas illustrate characters and their unique stories in a real-life setting.
4 Action Action films are fast, energetic, and spectacular. The central character is a protagonist who fights against evil. The integral part scenes are battles, chase scenes, rescues, escapes, and fights.
5 Fantasy Fantasy films immerse audiences in non-existent universes filled with limitless opportunities. Escapism, dreams, and wonders serve as tools to open new boundaries of physical laws or human possibilities.
6 Horror Horror films uncover the underlying fears and cause panic and dismay. These movies are as scary as they are compelling. Horrors both frighten and captivate at the same time. The standard features are screamers, unexpected spooky scenes, etc.
7 Mystery As a rule, in mystery films, a hero takes the path to figure out a bizarre accident or crime followed by mysterious circumstances. While seeking the truth, the hero shows off the trait of curiosity, diligence, and confidence.
8 Romance Romance is all about two characters depicted in a love story. The central plot focus is the journey from first sight to relationships, birth, and growth. The accompanying circumstances like family resentment, hazards, illnesses, and the difference in social status are fueling the story.

There is also a deeper categorization. Each genre in the list has several, sometimes overlapping sub-genres.

We are closer to the central part: we’ve approached the writing guide.

✨ How to Write a Film Analysis

Are you still struggling with how to write a film analysis essay? The solid solution is, to begin with conducting a step-by-step plan. Move on, and we will tell you how to do it!

Like every other paper, hence literary analysis, writing film analysis involves several ultimate steps. There is nothing groundbreaking here. All the steps are familiar. They are:

  • Outline
  • Thesis statement
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

Let’s touch upon each step and note what is worth considering (after watching the movie itself).

Film Analysis Outline

The first and foremost step is writing a film analysis essay outline. You need to make a short draft with the core measures to analyze the film. Mind the instructions in case you have them. Organize the ideas in a list and proceed to the next step.

Film Analysis Thesis Statement

Pay special attention to writing a film analysis thesis statement. You first need to squeeze out the central narrative threads and ideas. The thesis statement should focus on what you will prove in your essay by transforming those ideas into new meanings.

Concentrate on the combination of film expectations, the auteur’s point of view, and your own critical opinion. In the end, formulate a concise thesis statement and move on to the introduction preparation.

Film Analysis Introduction

Your film analysis introduction should be informative and catchy. Give the general information about the film. It may contain the movie title, director, release year, and cast. 

After building an introduction background:

  1. Dive deeper.
  2. Explore the director’s filmography or build possible links between the film and the current trends or social agenda.
  3. Include as many valuable insights as you can to spark a thought in the reader’s mind. 

Remember that the introduction should validate and complement your thesis statement. 


Having the outline and the formulated thesis statement, you should, in a way, break down a film into its creative elements and analyze each of them. At once individually, and then as a whole picture.

What are those creative elements?

  • Directing. Since we have mentioned the role of the director time and again, let’s start with it. Trace their distinctive directing manner to find new patterns and compare them to previous works.
  • Scenario. In most films, often except for art-house cinema, the script plays one of the critical roles in its power.
    A well-written scenario helps develop the narrative and each character. It reduces the risk of silly inconsistencies or mistakes. After watching, try to access the level of scripting consistency and clarity.
  • Acting. Even though we’ve just defined the role of the scenario, acting sometimes plays louder than words. Try to answer the question: how accurately does the actors’ performance reveals and conveys the author’s main idea and your thesis statement.
  • Music and visual effects. Setting the overall mood is what is impossible without soundtracks and visual effects. Provide an example of how each part, special effects, sounds, make-up, or costumes, help, or vice-a-versa, interfere in expressing the author’s message.

While analyzing, don’t forget to build logic between each element. Make a smooth and solid review.


We’ve approached the icing on the cake — your film analysis conclusion. Once again, make sure your analysis confirms the thesis statement and show it in your resolution.

Remember that movies are complex pieces of art. Don’t be too shallow in your essay. Try to see a bigger picture and put it in words.

Now that we’ve outlined the plan let’s figure out how it works on a real example.

🗒️ Film Analysis Template and Example

We prepared a short-outlined essay sample. Explore the table to understand what your analysis may look like. Here is the “Solaris” film analysis essay example.

Essay Example Film Analysis Essay Sample
Andrey Tarkovsky’s Solaris Analysis Introduction  
The film “Solaris” by Andrey Tarkovsky was released in 1972 as an adaptation of the 1960th science fiction novel by Stanislav Lem. “Let us take you with us to Solaris, the planet of mystery, an embodiment of man’s latent conflict with the unknown. Man, face to face with his conscience and past,” the film slogan states. Was Tarkovsky able to convey this message to the viewer? What tools did he use? 
The visuals of Solaris deserve to be taught in cinematic schools. The virtuosity of the camerawork is impossible to describe in words. Living, sparkling pictures of nature, the chill of the space station, the alien heart of the Ocean — everything is shot so great that in addition to the color shades, it conveys even the temperature changes of what is happening on the screen.  During a long time on the station, protagonist Calvin realizes that the one thing that unites him with the mighty “Supermind” is that every intelligent being in the universe always suffers eternal loneliness. Throwing away all attempts to understand the Ocean, he plunges into its waves. He ceases all inner resistance and surrenders to its powerful and incomprehensible willpower. 
The overall picture of the setting, script, audiovisual effects, etc., assist the director in translating the idea of humanity’s unpreparedness for the new. Humankind has not yet reached the required level to discover unknown cosmic universes. All attempts to understand “another mind” will fail until man fully explores themselves. 

You may take this or other essay samples from StudyCorgi as a template for your future writing. It will save your time and make the process transparent. Don’t hesitate to use them!

You’ve just found out the primary terms, tips, and a film analysis guide.

Now, as we have shed light on the film analysis techniques and showcased the real examples, the task seems not as tricky as at first sight. Save this article or share it with a friend to avoid losing!


What Is the Purpose of Film Analysis?

Film analysis aims to extract value from watching a movie, except for leisure. Films do not just tell a story. They bring a message, provoke feelings, and teach precious lessons. Directors sometimes encode priceless meanings applicable to many generations.

How to Analyze a Movie Effectively?

To analyze a movie effectively, you should acquire the appropriate terminology. Then, understand the existing types of film analysis and their difference. After that, outline your future film analysis paper and look through the extant examples.

What Is Formal Analysis in Film?

The formal analysis comprises the investigation of professional elements of film production like camera motion, lighting, color editing, special effects, and other inner working processes. The average viewer does not pay much attention to them, but we should not diminish their importance.

What Are the 4 Elements of Film Analysis?

One of the many interpretations of this question is the following: the first component is a film plot, the second one is the existing arguments about the film, the third one is a film background, and the fourth is their evaluation.

🔗 References

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