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A Film Studies Research Guide

Citing Films in Your Paper

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 Here are some commonly used style manuals:

Chicago Manual of Style Online (an electronic version licensed by the Emory Libraries.)

Chicago Manual of Style
Z253 .U69 - Reference Desk

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
LB2369 .G53 - Reference Desk

Turabian, Kate L. / A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style for students and researchers.
LB2369 .T8 - Reference Desk

Citing films typically entails a different set of problems from books, and the conventions are different. It's always best to check with your instructor first regarding his or her individual requirements.

Some academic style manuals such as that of the Modern Language Association (MLA) do suggest separate "works cited" entries for films, including significant information such as the title, director, screenwriter, possibly the lead performers, and the release date. However, in practice this is rarely done in academic publishing within film studies. It is usually sufficient to provide the title of the film (in italics, as with book titles), release date, and possibly the director within the main body of the text. For example: Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) or Metropolis (1927).

If you are citing supplementary content from a DVD such as an essay or director's commentary, you should consider creating a works cited entry for that item according to the rules of the style manual you're working with.

In any case , it is essential to be clear which version of a particular film you're using for your analysis. Many films are released in different versions for different markets and thus do not even necessarily contain identical footage. F. W. Murnau's Faust (1926), like many films of the silent era, had separate domestic and export negatives constructed from different takes entirely. Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (1964) was released in a 182-minute version in Japan but was initially released in the U.S. in a 125-minute version missing one of its four episodes, and is currently distributed on video in the US in a 161-minute version that is still shortened and re-edited but contains all four episodes. And with the advent of DVD, it is not uncommon for films to have footage added or removed specifically for the DVD release, as opposed to the theatrical release.

For more on citation styles, see the Citing Your Sources Research Guide.

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