Skip to Main Content

Film Studies

A Guide to Film Studies at Dalhousie


Featured Video:TED Talks: "Beeban Kidron:The shared wonder of film"

New Film & Theatre Books

Loading ...









Academic Search Premier  

Perform a search (ie, "Welles and Citizen Kane" or "Lynch and Blue Velvet") and choose "Academic Journals".





America: History & Life  

For best results search filmmaker together with film title: ie, "Reed and Third Man", "Ford and Stagecoach".


Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text  

Perform a search (ie, "Television violence and aggression") and choose Publication Type = "Academic Journal". Apply limits and filters to search results.







Gale Virtual Reference Library

Click on "Arts" in subject list, and then choose "International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers".




Historical Abstracts  

For best results search director's name together with film title or concept (ie, "Luis Bunuel and surrealism").



International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance with full text  

Perform search (ie, "Lynch and Blue Velvet") and choose "Academic Journals".



For best results choose "Advanced Search" and limit by Type=Article.





Periodicals Archive Online  

For best results, combine the director's name and film title in your search: ie, "Lynch and blue velvet", "Hitchcock and rear window".


Project Muse  

Searching "All Fields except text" yields more focused results than "All Fields (w/text)".
            Research Library  
For most relevant results, perform a search (ie, "Waters and Hairspray") and then choose "Scholarly Journals" tab.

Film Reviews & News

The Film Review

A standard film review is between 500 and 750 words in length, or between two and three and a half pages. Good film reviews do not simply summarize a movie's plot. They will instead provide a critical analysis that examines why and how a film works and whether it succeeds as a piece of art. When writing a review, make sure you have a central thesis and a set of supporting arguments. Note with specificity where the movie succeeds and where it fails, and discuss what you believe are the successful and unsuccessful elements. Be prepared to express an opinion and back it up with concrete examples. The most useful and persuasive film reviews are those that refer to scenes and dialogue from the movie to support an argument and illustrate points. 

Remember that good movies allow for and encourage multiple interpretations. In addition, if you assume that the reader of your review hasn't seen the movie, it will prevent you from revealing the content of climactic scenes.

Include basic information about the film (director, main players, if the movie is a sequel or part of a series) at the beginning of your review to provide context.

Place the film within the tradition in which it belongs. Try to compare this movie with other recent or older movies your reader might have seen. Later movies often borrow from the style, dialogue, and structure of earlier movies. Comparisons are useful points of reference. Ask if the film you are reviewing affects you in a manner reminiscent of another film. Does the film simply mimic a previous film or does it interpret it and expand on its ideas?

There are a number of approaches to writing a review: 1) plot-focused, 2) thematic or idea-focused, or 3) director- or actor-focused. It is quite valid for a film review to combine elements of these three approaches.

Finally, a reviewer will normally discuss how a movie functions on a variety of levels: psychological, technical, emotional, intellectual, maybe even spiritual. 

Ask yourself if the film lingers in your mind after you've watched it. Does it provoke you to question your assumptions? Does it make you look at society and the world differently? As a critic, it is no use for you to simply be angered or delighted by a film and leave it at that. You must be prepared to analyze and justify your response.

The best film reviewers respect film as art and want to share their passion for and insight into movies. They understand that the power of a great movie can be life-altering and they want their readers to share in this experience. The tricky part is conveying enthusiasm within an intellectual context, to be passionate and analytical at the same time. 

Credit: Adapted  from course on American film studies  given by Dr. Chris Lewis, University of Colorado  ( Boulder)


BBC: The Film Programme Podcasts

Loading ...

Internet Resources

Internet/Online Resources

A wealth of relevant research material is available for you online. The linked resources listed under Internet Resources will help get you started.






Film Journals Online

Film Studies & History


Gateways (for further links)






Mailorder Sites

Moving Images Online

News & New Releases


Reviews (additional resources)



Spanish/Latin American


Theatre 3313: Documentary/Animation/Experimental

Library Research

The Library collects print and digital material to support student research. Library resources are organized according to standard classifications and listings that are intended to ease the process of finding information. Everything the library owns is included in the Novanet Catalogue, our online database. Printed resources and other physical objects (ie, videos, CDs, DVDs) are assigned "call numbers," alpha-numeric codes that do two things: place the item next to others on the same or similar topics, and provide a physical marker for the item's location on the library's shelves.  Digital materials, such as databases, e-Books, and e-Journals, are included in Novanet and also listed on our web pages.

Library research has always been a two-step process: identify the items you need, then determine if the library owns them. Databases are useful for identifying material because they attempt to cover the known universe of available information on a given topic. Novanet brings this down to the local level by letting you know if we own it.

Reference Shelf



Writing + Citing

Still have a question?

You may contact me directly via email at <> or call my direct phone line at 902-494-8803 or use any of our

Ask Us services.

Online Resources

Internet/Online Resources

A wealth of relevant research material is available for you online. The linked resources listed under Internet Resources will help get you started.

Sources for Streamed Films