Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Diagrammin Difference

September 18th, 2011 by Erickson Bryan · 1 Comment · 1 Diagramming Difference

Erickson Bryan

Prof. Ferguson

September 18, 2011


Literature vs. Cinema

Hello Professors I know you all are probably questioning why should we have film class in the English department? I will answer these following and maybe it will change your mind about film class in the English department. These questions probably popped up in some English professors’ heads so I will produce a diagram and paper describing the similarities and differences of cinema and film. What is the comparison of Cinema and Literature? What is so special about Cinema that makes it so different from Literature? What is that Cinema gives us that Literature does not? Doesn’t both Cinema and Literature tell a story or a point of view? Cinema and Literature are both forms of art aren’t they? So what truly makes them similar or different? Wait what is Cinema and Literature?

Literature is one of our basic forms of art. What can we classify as Literature? Any form of written work that has some kind of structure. For an example books, poetry, novels, essays and letters are examples of literature. All of the following all show a basic form to there type of literature. Each example gives off their own type of structure. Structure plays a major role in literature. Based on Gordon Harvey definition “Structure is the sequence of main sections or sub-topics, and the turning points between them” (Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay”).

Literature is the author’s thoughts on a piece of paper. It is the author’s job to explain to us what is actually going on in his piece of work. The author must include details in his literature. Details are ways the author puts a visual image in our heads to understand what the character setting and certain objects look like. Details give literature a bump of why it differs from cinema.

Cinema is our modern form of art. Cinema is a visual form of art that provides us with still images and sound on a screen. Cinema is unique because it shows us so much in one picture. Cinema is often clear to the viewer because there is not usually critical thinking because everything is usually obvious. Details in a film or movie must be obvious in order for the viewer to follow the plot of the story. Unlike literature, cinema lacks details because of the physical limitations films have. Every film must be a certain length or the film will not be entertaining to the viewers. Cinema also must provide progressive images in order to show certain details. For an example in the film “M” if you have seen this film the director did a wonderful showing the little girl was in danger when the balloon she had received flew away.

Cinema and Literature are similar because they both serve one objective and that is to entertain educate and inform their audience. Cinema and Literature both share the author/film maker’s idea with their audience. Cinema and Literature have a variety of techniques that they have in common. For an example they both use this mechanism we call montage. Montage is a technique used to put together two totally different things and combine them to become one. Montage can be portrayed in a film by showing a man and food to show the viewer that the man is hungry. Montage can be performed in Literature the same exact way. Alliteration and Flashback are other techniques the two have in common. Alliteration can be shown in a film to explain to us that if it is repeated it is important. For an example in the film “M” the killer had a specific whisper that he repeated that clearly showed us that it was of importance. Alliteration also shows us in writing that it is important that the writer is trying to get you to understand he is repeating this one word or phrase so you understand it is important. Flashback are usually visible in both forms of art because it usually takes the character to their childhood which shows how the character is currently facing the dilemma he/she is having now. Literature also has a specific tone such as Cinema does. To me the tone is set by the specific setting cinema and literature will portray the same type of setting by using certain colors. To show a horror or death coming to a certain character the author and film maker would describe that specific scene to have the colors black and red displayed.

Cinema and Literature are common but show a difference in the way they tell the story. Anybody can receive two different aspects of reading a book and then watching the film because the structures are different. A book gives the opportunity to use imagination as Cinema gives us the opportunity to understand how the filmmaker pictured that scene. Cinema has its positives as well as literature does. Literature doesn’t have limitations and details help improve the reader’s interest unlike cinema that has physical limitations. Cinema has to put fewer details in order to keep the length of their film reasonable and to keep the viewer interested. Cinema advantage is that we as an audience get to see the characters body language and facial expressions which plays a major part in understanding the characters. Unlike literature the author has to provide us with that information.

As you can see Reading Film can be put in the English department because of the similarity between cinema and literature. Understanding that cinema shows an interest in literature should encourage you to agree this film club should be put in the English department. Film makers produce films based on certain literature which helps a reader to see someone else perception of the literature. I have provided you with my understanding of the differences and similarity of cinema and literature hope I helped you understand why the film club should be in the English department.















1. Has Structure 

2. Detailed


3.Author’s point of view


4.Involves critical thinking

1.Establish a main idea 

2. Shows creativity


3. Display different types of techniques

1.Have limitations 

2. shows sound and images


3. Visual art


4.Less detailed


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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Hi Erickson,

    One thing I notice about your first paragraph is that you’re working hard to ORIENT (Harvey’s term) your reader and especially to show them the STRUCTURE of your essay. I think that’s a good thing to do, but I wonder if you could do it in a more natural way. For example, you describe what you will do in the future, but why not just start doing it? You already have the diagram, so you could begin referring to it here, and readers would have a more specific idea of what you were actually going to talk about (rather than just the general idea that you were going to talk about something).

    One other way to do that is to use what Harvey calls KEYTERMS in your first paragraph. You pose some interesting questions, but there are a lot of them (7) and it’s not likely that readers will be able to answer these, or remember which ones are important or related compared to the others. One possible keyterm I see is “story”–you could think of what the opposite keyterm is, and use that as a way to structure things. When i get into the body of your essay, I see other important ideas you could have introduced as keyterms earlier, such as “visual” ¶4, “entertain” ¶5, and “structure” ¶6.

    One last thing to consider for revision: how you navigate between your paragraphs. remember what Harvey said about having a “progressive order”–do you see your paragraphs as having a logical order that builds on them (or could they be easily interchanged)? To help with strengthening the links between your paragraphs (and thus your overall structure) look at what Harvey calls STITCHING, which are the little words and phrases that help guide your reader to understand the direction you want them to move in..

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