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How to Write a Film Analysis Essay in English | Step by Step Guide

Watching movies is one of the most common types of entertainment. It is also a hobby for a lot of people to watch movies. However, watching movies, analyzing them, and writing a film analysis is not easy. Because after watching a movie, you may find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper not knowing where to start, how to organize your points, and what essential things you need to include in your film analysis. However, you do not need to worry. Here is the best guide to help you learn how to write a film analysis essay step by step.

What is a Film Analysis Essay?

A film analysis simply means watching a movie and then taking into account its elements, such as its genre, structure, and historical and cultural context. It is usually considered to be a type of rhetorical analysis. The secret to writing a good film analysis is to create a convincing argument that you should support with examples.

For that purpose, one needs to not only watch the movie but also thoroughly understand it. So, in order to better grasp what we’re watching and how it impacts us, film analysis is helpful. Besides, it can assist us in comprehending significant themes that filmmakers express or encode but that we might otherwise miss.

Types of Film Analysis Essay

There are several approaches because a movie analysis essay resembles a literary analysis, which makes sense. Its varieties are not restricted to those listed below. Additionally, you can mix the strategies in your essay. There is no one method to do it because your writing will reflect your personal opinion. Anyways here are the four types of film analysis essays you should know.

  1. Semiotic analysis
  2. Contextual analysis
  3. Narrative structure analysis
  4. Miss-en-scene analysis

Semiotic analysis

You must analyze the symbolism of the movie if you choose this strategy while writing your film analysis essay. For that purpose, you ought to be on the lookout for any clues that might be hiding something. They frequently expose certain character traits.

So, try to identify the things or ideas that show up on the screen repeatedly to make the process easier to handle. Besides, also try to know what is the context in which they are used. Because it might help you discover the symbols’ secret significance.

Contextual analysis

To write a contextual film analysis essay, you would have to broaden your vision in this case. The contextual analysis examines the time and place of the film’s composition rather than concentrating on its inner components.

As a result, you should put a lot of effort to research the cultural backdrop. Besides, mentioning the major sociopolitical concerns of the day can also be a smart idea. Even the director or producer’s professional career can be linked to the movie’s success.

Narrative structure analysis

This kind of film analysis resembles a conventional literature guide quite a bit. It entails analyzing the ideas, story, and motivations of the movie. Besides, setup, confrontation, and resolution are the three key components that the study seeks to pinpoint.

You should ascertain whether this structure is used in the movie and what impact it has. Besides, if you discuss the subject and the character’s motivations as well, your narrative structure analysis essay will be stronger.

Mise-en-scene analysis

This kind of film analysis uses audiovisual components, which are the movies’ most distinguishing features. Remember that your job is to explain why they are important as much as to recognize them.

However, remember that there are so many interrelated components to this puzzle, including the lighting to set the scene, the accessories to highlight the characteristics of the individuals, and the hidden meanings in the song lyrics.

How to Write a Film Analysis Essay

Although literary analysis and film analysis are very similar, you might find it confusing where to start from. There are only a few extra steps you need to think about while writing. Thus, you do not need to worry.

Step 1: Watch the Movie

To start, it’s crucial to watch the movie intently and critically. Think about the purpose behind your assignment to view a movie and write an analysis.

What role does reading your assignment instructions essentially play in the writing a good film analysis essay? Besides, you should also consider why were you assigned this particular movie to watch. What do you need in relation to the course material?

For instance, if you have to watch Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock (1958) and write a film analysis essay on it. The following advice will help you view the clip objectively.

First thing first, give the video your whole attention. Pay great attention to the little things and make observations that could spark more in-depth inquiries.

Then, take another look at the video. Review your assignment instruction before watching your movie for the second time. Because you want to concentrate explicitly on the aspects of film analysis that your assignment needs. While watching for the second time, consider asking the following questions.

  • Whose perspective, for instance, is this video clip recorded from?
  • What options best reflect that viewpoint?
  • What is the clip’s overarching tone, theme, or impact

Moreover, as you watch it a second time, take notes. You can also add timestamps to your notes to keep track of what you noticed when. Besides, timestamps are essential for citing movie sequences!

Step 2: Brainstorming ideas

It’s time to put your notes from your second time watching the movie and come up with some creative suggestions. A crucial phase in the development and exploration of ideas is brainstorming. During the brainstorming process, you might choose to group your thoughts around major themes or subjects that come to light as you go over your notes.

Besides, the connections you make while brainstorming might be used to create a thesis statement if you’re writing an argumentative essay. When creating a thesis, take into account the assignment’s instructions, as well as the type of evidence you’ll need to back up your arguments. As evidence, you can use dialogue, sound editing, cinematography choices, etc.

Step 3: Draft an Outline

how to write a film analysis essay

The third step of learning how to write a film analysis essay is to make an outline for your essay. You can do so only if you have at least watched the movie a couple of times, taken notes while watching, and brainstormed essential ideas.

Making an outline for a film analysis essay is pretty simple. It has the following sections.

  • Introduction
  • Summary
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion


In the introduction, we add basic information about the movie, including the movie title, the director’s name, and the date of the release. Besides, the introduction has one of the most important elements of an essay, the thesis. So, you can also add the central idea of the movie to your thesis.

How to Write a Thesis Statement in English


It’s time to dive deeper into the analysis and summarise the movie after giving the essential details about it.

Always imagine that your lecturer or reader has not watched the movie to make it more persuasive. That way, you will not forget to provide some crucial details. besides, answering the big five Ws including who, what, when, where, why, and how—along with your summary is the greatest method to ensure that you have addressed everything.

You can talk about anything associated with your perspective, structure, or style. Just keep in mind that you must provide specific instances or phrases from the movie to support your arguments. It wouldn’t be a valid comment otherwise.


The main body of your essay will consist of your critical analysis of the movie and your thoughts on it, all of which will be backed up by quotes from the movie or other pertinent sources.

Films are also intricate works of art that have several creative components that are interconnected and each has a purpose. You should thus thoroughly observe and consider these components which are given below.

  • Scenario

A good script features a logical flow of events, finished scenes, developed characters, and dialogue. Therefore, when it comes to the situation, these are the components you should consider.

Try to mentally reenact the movie’s narrative after you’ve seen it to check if you comprehended its logic and the actors’ motivations. A scene isn’t necessarily a superb scenario if it’s hard to understand it or come up with an explanation for it.

  • Directing

Every step of the filmmaking process, including scenario execution, plan selection, and even actor responsibilities, is within the director’s purview.

You can concentrate on the fact that the director brought the script to life in this section of the analysis or contrast this movie with his other movies. You will be better able to comprehend his guiding style and reach certain conclusions that are pertinent to your thesis and analysis.

  • Visual Factors

The impact of a movie’s overall visual components, such as special effects, costuming, and make-up, is also quite important. They must capture the mood of the movie. In particular, it is crucial for historical films. After all, the visuals must convey a certain time period.

So pay attention to the special effects and costumes, and consider how they affected the story.

However, be careful to solely analyse the components that can support or advance your thesis statement. Otherwise, you run the danger of straying from the core point.

  • Acting

Another important aspect of your film analysis essay to think about is casting. The screenplay and the director’s vision come to life thanks to the actors.

Therefore, consider whether the performers are realistic and whether they successfully capture the essence of their characters after seeing the film. More significantly, think about how their performance relates to your thesis statement and the film’s major premise.

  • Music Components

This is a crucial component of any movie. It creates the atmosphere and highlights specific movie scenes or activities.

For this reason, you should attempt to assess how the music reflects the mood of the movie or how it affects what is happening on the screen. Also, see whether it is obstructive or constructive.


The last section of a film analysis essay is the conclusion. This is where you may restate your thesis and offer a fresh, more compelling presentation of the key ideas, arguing for your analysis. Besides, a call-to-action that encourages the reader to watch the movie or ignore it totally can also be included.

Moreover, avoid introducing any new idea or anything that may set a foundation for a new argument or explanation.

Step 4: Write Film Analysis Essay

how to write a film analysis essay

Now that you have watched the movie and the outline of your film analysis essay is ready, you start writing a film analysis essay.

A film analysis essay or a traditional essay may have a lot of similarities. There are still distinctions between literary analysis and movie analysis. When someone begins writing their film analysis essay, these differences become very crucial.

The evidence you use to back up your assertions is not all the same, to start with. The audiovisual components may need to be described in place of being quoted.

However, both forms of descriptions follow a similar procedure. A specific sequence should always be introduced in the present tense. You may use block quotations to include a portion of a conversation between more than two movie characters. Nevertheless, confirm with your supervisor as there are several approaches.

Finally, consider the larger picture to demonstrate your mastery of the subject. Make sure to emphasize the relevance of each factor in your analysis rather than merely listing the key ones. Describe the impact they have on the movie’s overall impression. To demonstrate your knowledge, you might go further and offer explanations for why specific aspects were employed in a given scene.

Step 5: Review Your Draft and Edit

how to write a film analysis essay

Finally, the last step of learning how to write a film analysis is to review your first draft and edit it wherever needed. While writing the first draft of your film analysis essay, we recommend you just write. And not worry about whether you are writing correct spelling or if there are any punctuation mistakes. Just write!

Once you are done with the first draft, take a break and start fresh later. This time reread your draft and check your essay to see if there are any areas that you should fulfill. Other than that, you should also make sure that your essay is grammar and punctuation mistakes-free.

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