Paper Moon Movie

To be sure, all seven elements of fiction are running at full-force in this brilliant little film by Peter Bogdanovich. But instead of just identifying the elements of fiction, or even just writing about one or two elements, I want you to focus instead on some outstanding feature of the film that contributes to the development of a single element of fiction. For instance, you could write a small essay just on the use of rich, monochromatic black-and-white film and deep-focus photography in “Paper Moon” as a way of introducing and elaborating on setting. Or you could write an essay that focuses on the vast expanses of land and sky, as well as on the relative absence of people in the film, and how that enhances our understanding of the story and of the 1930s — a focus that might lead to the identification of a really profound main idea. You could also write an essay that focuses on the economic deprivation of the times that essentially forces Addie and Moze into huckstering, which would certainly point towards conflict, or even towards multiple layers of conflict. You could even write an interesting little essay just on the con itself, selling bibles to widows, and what that reveals about American values, particularly Midwestern values, of that era. Along those same lines, you could examine Addie’s “situational ethics,” as she adjusts the price of bibles on each widow accordingly. Or you could write an entire essay just on her incessant smoking and what it suggests about character. You could write an essay that focuses on Addie’s desperate need for a father and how she is willing to do virtually anything to win Moze’s approval — an analysis that would most likely say something about conflict and main idea together. You could examine the colloquial dialogue in the film and how it enhances language. You could examine the lyrics of the title song “Paper Moon” and connect them to the greater, underlying theme of the story, which might also say something about symbolism. Or, if you’re driven enough, you could go back and listen to Miss Trixie’s little monologue on the hill, which is not only a brilliant piece of writing in itself, but actually reveals something very sad about her character and about the human condition in general.

There are a million angles you could explore, but your job is to pick one and connect it to one element of fiction, then elaborate on it and describe how it helps propel the story forward.

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