Posted: May 17th, 2021

Topics in europe history (russia), review essay assignment


The Assignment

Watch three additional films, and write a 4-5-page paper discussing how these films handle a theme in Soviet history that was featured in our weekly discussions. What does a close viewing of these movies tell us about the dynamics of Soviet culture?  In answering this question, you may consider how the three films compare to films that we discussed in class, how the approach to an issue changed over time, and how the films reflect cultural trends outlined in our class readings.  

Topic: WWII

movies to watch:  The Cranes are Flying (1957),  Ivan’s Childhood (1962),  Come and See (1985) 

i just need some rework on my essay, here’s what the teacher said.

 Overall Feedback

This paper demonstrates a good grasp on the material in the films, describing scenes in each of the films to support its conclusions.  It focuses on themes such as devotion to the motherland and the evil of the Nazis.

To improve, work to clarify the argument. In particular, the points in the first and second paragraphs are too similar.  It’s not made clear in the paper how “undying loyalty to the motherland” and the belief that “nobody is above the motherland” are different.  The evidence presented in each paragraph–Flyora’s conversation with his mother, or Boris and Alexei’s decision to leave their important factory jobs to go to the front–is often doubled up.  Either rework these paragraphs to indicate how these themes are different and change up the evidence to better support each point, or delete one of these paragraphs and focus on another theme.

Perhaps most importantly, the evidence from the films is not cited according to the standards set in the instructions.  This is a critical error.  If you decide to revise, I expect to see the errors in citations fixed.

Work to keep body paragraphs at about 3/4s of a page.  If body paragraphs are longer than this, they tend to wander, rather than staying on point.  

One of the major issues with the World War II movies is change over time.  Why do these films change over time?  What is the significance of this?

Retool the argument in the conclusion that “they will be remembered as the heroes that offered their lives and future for the sake of others.”  What about Come and See, where war is presented as unmitigated brutality without honor or glory?

With proper formatting (single-spaced header, no additional space before/after paragraphs), the paper is 1/2 page short of the required minimum, accounting for a deduction to the grade.

Put the text through another round of editing to eliminate minor errors (i.e., “piece time” instead of “peacetime” on p. 1, “status” instead of “statis” at the bottom of p. 2, “the” instead of “they” at the top of p. 4).  The main character in The Fall of Berlin is Alexei, or Alyosha.  The main character in Come and See is Flyora, not Florya.

Rework how you present titles.  Film titles should be set in italics, not quotation marks.  Delete the link from Ivan’s Childhood.

Keep in mind that “Russia” and “the Soviet Union” are not interchangeable.  In these films, we’re talking about “Soviets,” not “Russians.”

The paper was only a minute late, so I’m not assessing a late penalty.

If you decide to revise the paper (see my email), I recommend fixing the issues with the repetitive argument in the first and second paragraphs referenced above.  What might be said about change over time?  Lastly, I expect that the errors in formatting and citing be fixed in a revised copy of the paper.

Good luck, and don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions!

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