PLANNING/INVENTION:  Film Analysis of Eat Drink Man Woman


Narrative and dramatic elements have a strong bearing on ideas in well-written stories, poems, plays and film.  In this sense, an idea is like a key in music or like a continuous thread tying together actions, characters, statements, symbols, and dialogue.  As readers and viewers, we can trace such threads throughout the entire fabric of the work.

Your first writing assignment this term is to write an analysis of the film Eat Drink Man Woman.  You should pay particular attention to the film's plot as you are to explain who you would consider the protagonist/antagonist, what the protagonist's conflict is, argue how you feel this conflict if overcome/resolved (climax), explain how this leads to an overall theme, and explain what role the idea of food plays in each of these. 

Remember that your approach to your essay assignment  should have three major steps:  to explain, to analyze, and to argue your individual point of view, essentially you will be doing all three steps simultaneously.  Essentially, you are arguing what you see as a central theme (major idea) of the film and explaining and interpreting both how and why you think that theme is connected to the idea of food in the film.

The goal here is not to point out that your interpretation is the “correct” one and that everyone’s ideas are invalid. 

We all can and will have different interpretations of the film because we all have had different life experiences (are different genders, races, ethnicities, ages, grew up in different places, and came from different socioeconomic backgrounds), and this is fine.  Whatever, your interpretation may be, however, you must support that interpretation with evidence (illustrations/examples/dialogue) from the film.

The point is to merely argue your opinion and explain why you feel the way you do. 



Most likely you encountered this term in your composition classes.  Invention work (also known as prewriting) is considered the first step of the writing process.

Invention work (or prewriting) is used to generate a body of raw material to use BEFORE you begin writing your paper and will provide you with ideas before you sit down at your computer to write. This will prevent the dreaded act of staring at a blank computer screen for an hour (yes, we have all been there).  In addition, you should refer to it after you started the process of drafting your paper during those moments when you find yourself at a loss of things to say and your paper seems to begin going nowhere.  Usually, just looking at this raw material will help you get the words flowing again.  Typically what happens is that a word or image in your invention work will spark a new idea and provide you with a new direction to explore in your paper.

There are several different methods that we will use to generate raw material for your essay:  brainstorming (see next paragraph), spiderwebbing (also known as mapping or "stars" or "spiders"), and freewriting.

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming is simply making a "grocery list" of ideas.  In other words, you are only listing single words only like you would on a grocery list:

milk          cheese
eggs        bacon
sugar       flour
bread       salt

Be sure you apply all of the "rules to remember" in red below to this invention method.

Rules to remember when you complete all invention exercises (brainstorming, spiderwebbing, and freewriting):
1)  Write as quickly as you can without lifting your pen from the page until your time is up.
2)  Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.  It's not important in invention work. 
3)  Never ask yourself if an idea is "good," "bad," etc.  This also isn't important.  We are only concerned with generating raw material for you to use that will help you to begin a draft later or to help you in those times that you get "stuck" when you are in the process of writing your paper.
4)  Write something down even if it seems completely unrelated or "off the wall.''
5)  If you can't think of anything to say, write  "I can't think of anything to say" until you think of something.  If you don't want to do that, just doodle or draw until you think of something.  The important thing to do is to just keep the pen moving.



To complete your invention work for your Responding to Film Essay , follow the steps below in the order that they appear.  To maximize your creativity, time yourself or have a friend time you.

a.Brainstorming (5 minutes).   Quickly list all of the ideas/themes in the film that you think are important.

Remember in brainstorming that you are only making a "grocery list" of individual words; do not use complete sentences.  Write down whatever comes to mind as quickly as you can so that your "internal critic" doesn't have time to criticize you.

b.Clustering (5 minutes).  Before beginning your cluster exercise.  Read over your brainstorming list.  Identify what you believe to be the single most important idea found in the film.  Draw a circle on the center of a piece of paper just big enough to write this word you have chosen from your briainstorming list inside of it.  Now from this idea in the center of a piece of paper, by free association, create a “spider web” by listing and linking how this idea is connected to the characters of your story.  Connect each idea to the next by drawing lines between them.  These ideas should also be inside of circles.

Remember to let a strand "play itself out" until you have nothing else to say about it.  When that happens, return to the word in the center of your page and begin a new strand.

Remember you are only writing individual words here only, not phrases or sentences.

Write as quickly as you can!

This is a visual scheme for brainstorming about your subject that should aid you in seeing relationships among your topics and subtopics, and give you a rough idea about an order or shape you may wish to favor for your essay. 

c.Freewriting (24 minutes).  With freewriting, you are now writing complete sentences and thoughts; don't forget, however, that you should not concern yourself with grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

Identify who you feel the two most important characters in the film are.

First, in a freewrite of 8 min., you should plan to discuss how the actions of these characters might reveal or be connected to a theme from your brainstorm list.  Freewrite for eight minutes about any such actions. 

Next, freewrite about for eight minutes about how these characters are conflicted.  In other words, what types of conflicts are illustrated with the actions they take and the things they say.  NOTE:  THE LINK ABOVE DESCRIBES CONFLICT IN TERMS OF LITERATURE, BUT ARE EASILY APPLIED TO FILM.

Now, look over what  you have written.  Underline the most important sentence there.

Next, in a freewrite of 8 minutes, explain how this conflict is connected to the idea of food.

In a final freewrite of 8 minutes, explain how the idea of food is connected to the theme from your first freewrite and the idea of food.

Now using your invention work to help you shape ideas, you should begin your rough draft. 

An outline for your essay might look like the one below.  This is a suggested outline only.  You may have other ideas about the organization of the body of your essay.

I.Intro (Identify the central idea or thematic thread that can be traced throughout the story and briefly discuss its connection to the idea of food and why that is significant; state your claim and preview your main points that will be discussed in your essay.)
A.  Character 1 (protagonist)
  1.  Explain how the idea of food is connected to this the theme and this character.
        2.    Discuss how your theme is revealed in this character’s actions
        3.    Discuss how it is revealed in this character’s dialogue.
        4.    Discuss how this idea is revealed by any objects or places closely associated with this character (here you are looking at the function of setting and symbols within the setting and story).

B.  Character 2 (antagonist)
      1.  Explain how the idea of food is connected to this the theme and this character.
        2.    Discuss how your theme is revealed in this character’s actions
        3.    Discuss how it is revealed in this character’s dialogue.
        4.    Discuss how this idea is revealed by any objects or places closely associated with this character (here you are looking at the function of setting and symbols within the setting and story).
III.   Conclusion:  Summarize the ideas discussed the ideas in the body of your essay as well as the validity or force of the theme/central idea; restate your claim and the significance of how your theme is connected to the idea of food.

NOTE:  The title of your essay should reflect the entire content of your essay.  Your intro should preview the entire content of your essay.  When read together your intro and conclusion should form one idea.