Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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Diagramming Difference

September 24th, 2011 by Kaitlin Stevens · 2 Comments · 1 Diagramming Difference


Good morning, everyone. Let me start by thanking you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend my presentation on the similarites and differences between film and literature. Hopefully the points I bring up in my presentation will help you make the decision of whether or not a Film Club would be a worthy addition to the school’s English department. I’m sure the idea may seem ridiculous to some of the English professors, but I assure you the concept is not as far-fetched as you have probably figured it to be. Literature and film are actually very closely related, and the connection is much more complex than the obvious connection of books adapted to movies. Please allow me to explain the deeper connections, and of course the many differences between film and cinema as well.

An obvious difference between films and literature is that movies generally take 1 and a half to 3 hours to watch, whereas books can take days, weeks, even months to finish. One reason for this is movies can take multiple details from a book that would be spread across numerous pages and compress it all into one short scene. In addition, when books are adapted into movies, much can be left out.

One definite difference between films and literature is the visuals. In a movie, everything is right there on the screen. With a book, everything you read is just there on paper, and you are forced to create your own visuals in your head. Now, for some people, having to create the visuals with their imagination is overwhelming or maybe even impossible. On the other hand, there are people such as myself who find the need to create visuals stimulating, exciting, and just plain enjoyable and even preferred in most cases.

This brings me to the differences between interpration of film and literature. I can’t speak for all authors when I say that they write their stories or other types of material with the intent of leaving it very open to interpration to the readers, but either way I view this as an advantage. In a movie, you are welcome to interpret particular scenes in any which way you please, but it is less likely that someone would really need to interpret a scene after witnessing a clear visual which should explain everything needed to know. In literature, no matter how detailed a certain paragraph or passage may be, the interpretation of said passage is different for every reader. In my opinion, this makes reading a book much more interesting than a movie in many cases. The point I am trying to get at here, (if it isn’t clear) is that in literature, you are more open to use your imagination and get what you want out of it, whereas in film, the points made are usually more clear and basic and leave little to the imagination. However, one question I pose is, where are underlying meanings more clear? In film, or in literature? Its hard to tell.

One thing films and literature have in common are their motives. Books and movies are made for certain reasons – to entertain the audience, educate the audience, prove a point, or simply tell a story. A book or film could do one or all of the aforementioned motives. Whether it be a novel, a play, a screenplay, an essay, or a poem, it is bound to achieve one of the previously stated motives.

In addition, let us not forget that all movies were first written as screenplays, which is definitely a form of writing. Both books and movies start out as an original concept that the author/screenwriter had in mind which are further expanded on thus processing them into films and literature. This is surely a similarity between the two art forms. They are both written works! A difference between the written works, however, is that literature is in most cases written just the way the author wants it, no holds barred; whereas screenplays must be edited numerous times to be suitable for audiences. Screenplays are rarely ever what they began as, they must be censored in most cases which makes the story less real.

Another difference between films and literature is that literature is much less complicated. An author simply writes their work and has it published, in lame terms. There are much less people involved in the writing of literature. I would say its generally the author, the publisher, and the editor. Movies are definitely more complex. The process of making a film requires quite a few people such as the screenwriter, the editor, the director, the producer, the actors, the set designers, and many more. When a book is written and in its final stages, all it needs is to be reviewed and published, then it can be sold and enjoyed by the masses. When a screenplay is written, it needs much more work before it becomes a movie for the world to see.

In conclusion, there are many differences between literature and films, and they are more than just what the eye can see. Films and literature do have quite a few things in common as well, though, and in my opinion the similarites are enough to consider adding a film club to the English department. I would view it as similar to a book club. At the end of the day, films and literature both just want to tell a story. I hope some of the points I brought up in my paper will be taken into consideration and can assist you in making your choice.



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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Hi Kaitlin,

    One thing I liked right away was that you really took to the spirit of the assignment and addressed your audience directly. In doing that, you were able to practice what Harvey calls STANCE, particularly when you present yourself as an informative and authoritative source. That’s an important consideration, and naturally you would take a difference stance for your different audiences.

    For revision, the first thing I noticed was that you could do more with what Harvey calls STRUCTURE. For example, in your opening paragraph you say that there are “connections” and “differences” between film and (I think you meant literature). But, I wonder why you don’t say what those connections are here? Why keep it a mystery? You could instead use Harvey’s KEYTERMS to show readers your essays structure and prime them for when you filly develop the ideas in the body of your essay. (It seems like you have some of those in your essay, like “visual” in ¶3 or “interpretation” in ¶4, but you should use them more intentionally.)

    Another place to revise for structure is to look at the beginnings of each paragraph. Ask yourself if you have a “progressive order” that introduces a complication or development, or whether you are just reciting a list. Some of the paragraph beginnings you have now seem more “list-like”: “in addition,” “another difference,” etc. When revising, can you think about why these paragraphs are in this order, and how you might use a stronger structure to improve the quality of your essay’s ideas? Then when we get to the conclusion, it’s not just a restatement of what you’ve said, but you can actually arrive at a new, more sophisticated idea.

    • Kaitlin Stevens

      Are we going to hand in revised versions of this assignment in the future? Also, I’m not exactly sure what we have to do for the advertising assignment, would you mind explaining it to me?

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