A cinematic mirror of American Society

Murderous Couples(this is the theme)

Gun Crazy (1950)

Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

Natural Born Killers (1994

You will have to view three films that contain the same theme but were produced at least three decades apart. PLEASE SEE ABOVE

Genre: DRAMA We will focus on the genre of drama which in some instances will include the sub genres of action, romance (“rom com”) and (certain) comedies

My compilation of films for each Film Theme Set took into account the quality and/or in many cases the success of the film when it was released, a sustained success over time or the designated status of “classic”.

PAPER FORMAT/FIRST: Your Paper will begin with a three-paragraph synopsis devoted to a summary of each film for a total of nine paragraphs. The three paragraph synopsis for each film will cover the beginning (the conflict), the middle (the climax or turn of events) and the resolvement (known as the denoument [“day-new ma”] with a sentence added about the theme.

If you have previously viewed one of your three films and in the interest of time do not want to view it again for this assignment but you need a memory refresher you may use Wikipedia’s synopsis (scroll down to “Plot”) but you must cite it and you must severely edit it so that the synopsis fits into your one paragraph.

The following is MY EXAMPLE of the three paragraph format for Superman I. (You can insert images or YouTube links in your Paper like I have done in this entire “Lecture” if you wish.)


Superman (1978) Theme: Good vs. Evil. The beginning of the film shows how Superman came to earth, his adoptive American earth parents’ discovery of his super powers and his entry into adulthood where he becomes a reporter, falls in love and is forced to reveal his superpowers to the world through a series of mortal-life challenging events that require his help.

The climax of the film in my estimation is the big challenge Superman faces when the story’s villain discovers Superman’s weakness (kryptonite) which causes him to be in the compromising position of rescuing a stranger to fulfil a promise (a man of honor he always keeps his promise) which simultaneously puts the love of his life in danger because even though he is Superman he cannot be in two places at once. [p.s. I peeked at Wikipedia to refresh my memory about which of the many challenges were the ones connected to Superman I but did not use any of Wikipedia’s language.]

The denoument shows the scope of Superman’s powers. We also see the criminals jailed and a promise at the end that Superman will return.


PAPER FORMAT/SECOND: After your nine opening paragraphs that will allow you (and me) to clearly see a comparison of each film’s story up front Your Paper will continue with a new paragraph that analyzes how the theme is exhibited in each film. To do this you will comment on whether there is a noticeable difference or evolvement on the theme over the decades – something that best demonstrates each film’s attitude about the theme. Point to an element of mise en scene or cinematography or even sound that you believe enhances that attitude for each film and assess the difference in impact on you as the audience of the three different scenes. (For example, does the criminal in one film become an antihero in the second film and a hero in the third?)


My example:In Superman I we see how much affection Superman has for us mortals and to what lengths he will go to as he fights against evil mortals to save and protect us. This is exhibited by the mise en scene of costume as well as special effects and of course the thundering Superman music score that accompanies his flights around Gotham, the country and even round earth. However, in Superman II we see a Clark Kent who has lost his powers and immediately gets beat up by some yahoos in a local diner. Kent consequently feels useless now that he is just a shlub like the rest of us powerless mortals and he becomes depressed (who wants to be a vulnerable mortal?). Kent’s melancholy is demonstrated by Chirstopher Reeve’s good acting – the most important element of mise en scene in this instance. Finally in Superman III… [I forget his good/evil challenge in Superman III and don’t have the time to look it up. Of course you cannot use this excuse.]


PAPER FORMAT/THIRD: This course is titled American Film & Society therefore you will examine your three films for the overall American connection. Which society is exhibited collectively in your three films and how does being American contribute to the success or failure of the protagonist/antagonist. Is at least one of your films listed in the NFPB Registry? Does your film fit into the NFPB requirement that “The movies reflect who we are as a people and as a nation”? In this paragraph you will also comment on whether your movies show any of our big four demographics and whether that demographic has had an impact on the film’s THEME over time. Your last sentence of your Paper will reiterate if the ending of the later film shows an evolvement of consciousness about the theme or demographic from the earliest film.

Special Note to all of you: You may be able to complete this assignment without viewing the entirety of all three films and simply focus on major scenes but just remember that your Paper has to make sense and Plagiarism (something I do not expect from any of you) will get you an automatic zero and a reduced grade overall for the course. FEEL FREE TO USE YOURS OR YOUR CLASSMATE’S PREVIOUS DB COMMENTS, MY “Lectures” and anything else available to you in our course site. Just remember to cite everything.

A Cover Page is required and should contain the following language at the top middle of the page:

A Cinematic Mirror of American Society: Substance Abuse in Film (or whichever Theme or Demographic you choose)

Your cover page should also have a photo of whichever film you enjoyed the most with the title (and year) of the film under the related photo.

Finally, your cover page should have the following information on the bottom right hand side:

Your Name

Course Name & Number

Prof.name Date of Submission

The first page of your Paper (after the cover page) should follow the MLA rule for first page.

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