Film Review

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To Live (活着 Huozhe) 1994 Samuel Goldwyn/Era International/Shanghai Film Studios; 125 minutes; Winner, Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor, 1994 Cannes Film Festival; Director: Zhang Yimou; Starring: Ge You, Gong Li

A film review is not a summary of the plot. Rather, your film review should discuss the issues raised by the film, address the film’s purpose and importance. In a nutshell, it is a critical analysis of the content and issues of the film. The length of your review should be 1,000 words. The content of your review should include the following in any order you choose.

  1. 1) In one short paragraph, describe the film in general terms. Describe the plot and setting. What subjects does it cover? What issues does it raise? What do you see as the purpose of the film?
  2. 2) What is the central theme of the film? The theme is the message or the main idea the film is trying to communicate to the audience. It is the point the director is trying to make through the film.
  3. 3) What are the motifs (sometimes called sub-themes, or themes) and symbols in the film? How are they used to develop and deepen the main theme? A motif is a recurring element in a story or film. It can be an image, a sound, a song or melody, an object or idea, or a character’s line (words) that repeatedly occurs in the film. Motifs help to reveal, develop, deepen and expand the main theme. A symbol is one thing that represents another. Symbols can be colors, images, objects, or characters that are used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. Your task is to tell me how motifs and symbols help to reveal, develop, deepen and expand the central theme that you have identified.
  4. 4) What is the relationship between the state and individual in this film?
  5. 5) Briefly summarize and emphasize the strengths and weaknesses of the film.
  • Must use the MLA or APA citation format.
  • Must place the following on top of the first page of your review: To Live (活着 Huozhe) 1994 Samuel Goldwyn/Era International/Shanghai Film Studios; 125 minutes; Winner, Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor, 1994 Cannes Film Festival; Director: Zhang Yimou; Starring: Ge You, Gong Li

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