Model Scene Analysis Paper Outline

Posted below is the outline for a possible scene analysis paper, presented in discussion on Friday. (For discussion sections 01 and 02, I’ve changed the format from a five paragraph paper to a three paragraph paper, which works better for the 2-3 pages that have been assigned). Note: the thesis statement (and re-stated thesis statement in concluding paragraph) are in bold. If you have any questions about this or the paper, email me at byrnejo@umd.edu.

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Title: The Lobby Shoot-Out in The Matrix: An Innovative Film Shot to Hell

I. Introductory Paragraph

The film The Matrix, directed by the Wachowski brothers, continues to be popular, and the scene in which Neo and Trinity shoot up the lobby of the building in which Morpheus is being held captive is perhaps the most popular, and probably the most recognized, scene in the film. With its innovative camera work, choreography, and adrenalin-pumping gun-play, the scene is certainly inventive. But some critics find the scene to be gratuitously violent, glorifying guns and implicitly justifying mass-murder. I am one of these critics. But after watching it a few times, I realize the main problem with the scene is not just that it is excessively violent, but that it is bad film-making. As I will show in the following analysis, the film-makers’ camera work, mise-en-scene, and editing undercut the tone, pacing, and the major motif of the film.

II. Body Paragraph

A. Camera Work (camera angles and framing makes violence artful and “sexy”)

B. Mise-en-scene (costuming [Columbine chic], choreography, and soundtrack all over-emphasize excitement to the detriment of character/plot development)

C. Editing (kinetic editing throws off the pacing established earlier in the film, injects inappropriate humor into scene)

III. Concluding Paragraph

The lobby scene in The Matrix is undeniably exciting, though disturbing to those who think the violence in the scene excessive. But, as I hope I have shown, it is also a scene that disrupts everything the film-makers have established in the preceding 80 minutes. The camera work, the mise-en-scene, and the editing of the film all work together to make this a scene that is designed to titillate audiences rather than enlighten them, undercutting the major philosophical motif of The Matrix. It is at that moment in the film in which the audience is sent back to the illusion of the matrix in the form of Hollywood formula action.

~ by Joseph E. Byrne on March 9, 2009.

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