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Truman Show Essay

Mrs Mitchells English Class

Whats your story?

The Truman Show

1.2 Visual text

Visual and oral language features include:

  • ambient sound/silence
  • design
  • body language
  • dialogue
  • camera work / editing
  • music
  • narration / voice-over
  • props
  • rhetorical devices
  • sound effects
  • special effects
  • use of voice
  • cinematography
  • colour
  • composition
  • costume
  • imagery
  • lighting1.2 Exam 2015
  1. Describe at least one important relationship in the text(s).
    Explain how this relationship positively or negatively influenced one or more characters, supportingyour points with visual and / or oral language features.
  2. Describe at least one important character in the text(s).
    Explain how the character changes throughout the text(s), supporting your points with visual and /or oral language features.
  3. Describe the opening scene of the text(s).
    Explain why the opening scene was important, supporting your points with visual and / or orallanguage features.
  4. Describe at least one important setting in the text(s).Explain how the setting helped you to understand at least one idea, supporting your points with visual and/or oral language features.Note: “Setting” may refer to physical places as well as social and historical contexts.
  5. Describe at least one important object or symbol in the text(s).
    Explain why this object or symbol helped you to understand at least one idea, supporting yourpoints with visual and / or oral language features.Note: A symbol could be a place, person, or thing that represents something more than itself.
  6. Describe the structure of the text(s).
    Explain how the structure helped you to understand an important idea, supporting your points withvisual and/or oral language features.Note: “Structure” refers to the way a text is arranged.
  7. Describe an incident that changes the course of events in the text(s).
    Explain how this change helped you to understand an important idea, supporting your points withvisual and/or oral language features.
  8. Describe at least one important technique used in the text(s).Explain how the use of the technique created impact, supporting your points with visual and / or oral language features.


How might Truman’s situation link to the philosophical ideas in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave?

How might these ideas apply to us?


The Film Essay

  • Studying film as a text
  • Film essay paragraph structure (STEEPEL)
  • Intros and conclusions
  • Planning the essay

The purpose of your film essay is to demonstrate that you understand that a visual text communicates ideas to an audience by using pictures and sounds.

Your film essay is also to demonstrate that you have understood the ideas portrayed and that you can engage with them by explaining or analysing them.

That is why it will be vital to include examples of film techniques used by the director in your essay. Hundreds of hours usually go into planning and filming the various scenes that make up a movie. These include the writing, story boarding, set building, costume making, props, lighting, sound recording and sound editing, music composition, make up…the list is as long as the credits at the end of a film for the number of people it took to present the sounds and pictures that particular way. Nothing is accidental. Your task is to identify and discuss the aspects of the film that created ideas about the character or theme or whatever it is you are asked about in the question.

Read the question carefully. Note the key words in the question. Will you be examining a character who changes? Or who experiences a turning point? Is the question asking you to focus on one part of the film (like the ending or climax)? Or is it asking you to discuss the movie as a whole? Understanding the question is critical to your success. Any essay, no matter how compelling or magnificent, will not pass if it is NOT answering the actual question.

Using a structure for your essay paragraphs allows you to cover the requirements necessary for success. A clear structure also makes it easier for your reader to follow your points. It is important to cover the topic thoroughly and logically and as you get more conversant with the structure you will be able to work towards making smooth and coherent essays that are also thoughtful and original.



A film essay has an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion.

STEEPEL is a great way to structure the body paragraphs.

S – Statement    This is a statement that presents the point you will discuss in the paragraph. Check that it is answering the question.

T – Technique     This is a film technique(s) that was instrumental in creating the thing you are discussing in this paragraph and supports/proves your statement. If it is a quote by a character remember to name it as dialogue/monologue/voiceover, etc.

E – Example     This is your description of that film technique in action in the movie. Place the technique in context (Ie: Briefly describe the scene where it happens). Describe how it looked or sounded. If it is dialogue, write the quote in quotation marks and describe how the character delivered the line.

E – Effect   Explain the effect this particular technique has in the film. Did it help give us an idea? Did it create an emotion in us? Did it signal something?

P – Purpose   Explain why the director (and implicitly all those other helpers involved) chose to use that particular technique. Evaluate its success in achieving that purpose with you, as a member of the audience.

E – Extension   Apply what you have examined so far in the film to the wider world. Go deeper into the ideas and discuss how they relate to society, to history or to the text as a whole. How does what you discussed in the paragraph apply to our society today? What lessons can we learn from it? How do the ideas in this paragraph relate to other parts of the film? To the text as a whole? To other texts? What is your opinion?

L – Link   Sum up your paragraph by showing how the previous S, T, E, E and Ps have answered the question using key words from the question.
As mentioned, there are many film techniques at play in a film which deliver ideas to the viewer. Do not be afraid to include more than one technique in your discussion. Just remember that whenever you introduce a technique you will need to follow the same process with each to make it count. Discuss at least TWO different techniques per paragraph.

For example, one paragraph might be structured like this:


Technique (1)



 Technique (2)






Another good tip is to vary the techniques you discuss. You are trying to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Three paragraphs on close ups makes it look like that is all you know. A good guide is to choose at least one different film technique for each of the paragraphs plus a dialogue quote for each.

Remember to write at least 3 body paragraphs in your essay.

Finally, for introductions use TAKO.

T – Title (Underlined)

A – Author/Director

K – Key words from the question

O – Outline your main points, in order, for your 3 paragraphs.

Here is a sample introduction in response to the question:

Describe a character in the text who changes. Explain how the character changes and why.

In the short film The Graffiti of Mr Tupaia  (T) directed by Christopher Dudman (A), a character who changes (K) is Mr Tupaia. He is a quiet, diligent cleaner at a primary school but he has to open up to the people around him when he finds out that someone needs his help. (O) The director uses mid shots, close ups, dialogue and other film techniques to help us see who Mr Tupaia is and how and why he changes.

The conclusion is similar. Use TAKS

T – Title (Underlined)

A – Author/Director

K – Using Key words from the question….

S – Summarize the 3 main points from the paragraphs.



Choose a question to answer that you know plenty about. After reading the question, the very next thing to do is to start your essay plan. Map out your STEEPEL structure with room to add in the information.

Click here for a film essay planner .  Your plan may include these prompts:

Intro         Para 1                     Para 2                    Para 3              Conclusion


Map out the paragraphs first, then do the intro. That way you will know what to put into the introduction and the order in which your points will occur. Write the conclusion last, after you have written the essay. That way you will be able to sum up any extra ideas that you have developed in the process of writing.


Here are some exemplar film essay paragraphs:

/education/files//Truman show paragraph exemplars.pdf

You are now ready to write an amazing essay!

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Truman Show Essay

Truman Essay


Analyse how verbal AND visual features of a text(s) you have 

studied are used to give audiences a strong idea.

Essay Planning Grid

Film Techniques


1) Include a quote (not from the film) that reflects something about the theme of Freedom or Entrapment.

Explain what you think this quote means and link it to the film.

2) Name the title of the film and the Director.

3) Reword the question

Body Paragraphs

See planning grid


1) Rename the title of the film and the name of the Director

2) Remind the marker what you have said to answer the question

3) Link to self



Topic Sentence/ Statement


Evidence/ Examples (2 visual and verbal techniques per paragraph)

Use: “ I see” “I hear”


Explanation (How do these examples back up your topic sentence)


Purpose (The author uses this to show us…)


Effect (The effect on the viewer is that it makes us feel…) EMOTION


Evaluation ( What we can learn from this is..)


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