Cairo Time: Describe the cultural landscape in which most of the movie unfolds

Title of Movie:

Year of film production:

Country (countries) the film depicts:

Country the film was produced in:

Physical Geography: 

  1. Describe the physical landscape in which most of the movie unfolds. A physical landscape is anything that is not made or changed by man (e.g. mountains).
  2. Is it possible that the movie was actually shot elsewhere than the country it is supposed to represent? Why or why not?

Cultural Geography:

  1. Describe the cultural landscape in which most of the movie unfolds. A cultural landscape is any physical feature altered by man (=anthropogenic feature). For example, high rises in city or old houses narrowly set together.
  2. Explain the historical context in which the story takes place. This involves some research on the background of a particular country/region. Provide as detailed a map as you can of the region/country where the events unfold.
  3. What is the general theme of the movie and what does that have to do with cultural geography? I am ABSOLUTELY NOT interested in reading pasted and copied material. Keep this short, two or three sentences suffice. 

Cultural Traits:

Which cultural traits were you able to spot that were used to signify the culture(s) of the movie? This should be done by identifying cultural elements as there are:

  1. artifacts (= objects, e.g. mud houses or chopsticks, helping to identify a particular culture)
  2. sociofacts (= social institutions, e.g. schools, marriage, or things denoting social rank, e.g. big house, big diamond ring etc.)
  3. mentifacts (=ideologies, values of a society including ideas, philosophies, religion and langague).
  1. List at minimum five (5) different but important artifacts indicative of the culture(s) portrayed. 
  2. List at minimum five (5) sociofacts (anything that can be related to societal ranking, institutions) that are associated with the culture(s) portrayed (usually easy to find in the movie); 
  3. List at minimum three (3) mentifacts (mental constructs, ideas, ideologies, philosophy, religion) that are associated with the culture(s) portrayed

AND

Elaborate on those artifacts, sociofacts and mentifacts (e.g. the culture of the rebels in ‘Blood Diamond’ is a sociofact; members have to adhere to strict laws or there are unpleasant consequences). This is the most important aspect of this exercise so please go into detail.   

Elements not Fitting: Were there any elements that did not quite fit into the movie (like camels in South Africa, lions in Japan, I am exaggerating, of course).

Opinion:

Your opinion of the movie as a whole. Was it worth watching? Did you learn something new about the culture?

How to write a successful movie analysis:

Be smart about your choice. Start early so you have a choice. Before you get the movie make sure that you like the topic. All movies listed are considered very good movies so they have quite some entertainment value. Check out on the internet what might be of interest to you: if you are interested in indigenous people in New Zealand, watch Whale Rider; if you are interested in the formation of Israel, watch Exodus. 

Look closely at the landscape as you watch the movie. What kind of landscape is it: desert, prairie or wheat fields–ask yourself how the landscape affects the movie? This goes back to environmental determinism and possibilism. 

Really do not just look for one or two artifacts, sociofacts, mentifacts–look for more. Each movie will have many such …facts. This is the core of your analysis looking at culture with these tools. The more you can come up with the better. 

Often it makes sense to watch the movie with or without family and friends for enjoyment and then to discuss it with whoever was there. After that it might be beneficial to watch some scenes over again. Also, the DVD’s give sometimes some good information on how the movie was made. In addition there is the internet which will help with deciding whether the movie was shot elsewhere or not but it won’t decide for you whether it COULD be shot elsewhere. That’s for you to decide. 

The comments you are to make to your classmate’s reviews serve two functions: 1) You look at two reviews in detail and most likely you will be curious about something or other and 2) You might get seduced into watching these movies long after the class over (or so I hope). 

P.S. If you know of a good movie that is not listed in the signup sheet but would fit in well with the theme of cultural geography please let me know. Just drop me an email. 

Last but not least, have fun with this assignment.


Grading

The movie analysis is worth 600 points toward your course grade. It will be graded according to the rubric below. 

GEO 210 Movie Analysis Rubric
PointsElements
50Physical geography
50Cultural geography
50Historical context
300Cultural traits 100 points – 5 different artifacts and and explanation of why each was chosen (significance to movie)100 points – 5 different sociofacts and explanation of why each was chosen (significance to movie)100 points – 3 different mentifacts and explanation of why each was chosen (significance to movie)
50Your opinion and what you learned
100Interaction with classmates 50 points – Post to classmate #1, meaningful, insightful comment or question (in-depth answers to questions also count)50 points – Post to classmate #2, meaningful, insightful comment or question (in-depth answers to questions also count)
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