Comparative Study Worksheet 2020-21

“Film scripts for sale in Soho! #newyork #newyorkcity #nyc #movies” by Nat Ireland is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


A guide to planning, researching and creating your DP Film Comparative Study

  • Follow the directions for each step below
  • Include for your work where it is required

Student Work

  • To be placed after students create posts

Steps and Tasks

  1. Brainstorm possible films for the task. You must select TWO films from contrasting cultural contexts.
  2. Brainstorm and justify at least three different areas of FILM FOCUS for your two chosen films.
  3. Brainstorm and justify at least two different CULTURAL CONTEXTS for your two chosen films.
  4. Consolidate your ideas and develop at least three different RESEARCH QUESTION topics for your study.
  5. Finalize your choices and select your RESEARCH QUESTION. Choose two films for comparison.
  6. Develop the main arguments you will make about your topic.
  7. Collect evidence from the films that support your argument.
  8. Research secondary sources for information that supports your argument.
  9. Write your Narration and plan the audio-visual components of your video essay.
  10. Recordassemble, and edit your Comparative Study Video Essay.
  11. Create a Works Cited document (separately) once your Comparative Study is finished.

Guidance for Your Work

“Simple formative analysis of film elements, no matter how precise or insightful, won’t cut it which is why the research question needs to be crafted in such a way that it provides scope for theoretical and socio-historic exploration. It’s basically an EE in disguise but focusing on two very different textual sources.”

Comparative Study Task Components

For this assessment task, each student identifiesselects, and researches each of the following task components.

  1. TASK 1: One area of film focus.
  2. TASK 2: Two films for comparison from within the chosen area of film focus, one of which originates from a contrasting time (historical) or space (geographical) to the personal context of the student, and the other film identified for comparison must arise from a contrasting cultural context to the first film. Students are required to select films they have not previously studied in depth. The selected films cannot come from the prescribed list of film texts provided for the textual analysis assessment task and, once selected, the films cannot be used by the student in any other assessment task for the DP film course or the extended essay.
  3. TASK 3: A clearly defined topic for a recorded multimedia comparative study, which links both the selected films and the identified area of film focus. Each student should invest time in researchingdeveloping, and honing their topic (which in most cases is likely to be expressed in the form of a research question) to ensure it is clear, focused and concise, in order to provide them with the maximum potential for success in this task. The topic should seek to enrich the student’s understanding of the chosen area of film focus and should avoid a plot-driven approach to the comparison.

The assessment criteria for this task requires students to provide a strong justification for the choice of task components as part of the recorded multimedia comparative study. This includes the student’s justification for how films arise from contrasting cultural contexts.

1. FILM Choices List

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 10 minutes on this.
Which films are you considering for your final Comparative Study? List as many as you wish below as part of an initial brainstorm. Remember that you must select ​​TWO​​ films from contrasting cultural contexts for this task.e.g. CITIZEN KANE Year, Country, and Director of the film.e.g. 1941, USA, Dir: Orson Welles
Star Wars: A New Hope 1977, USA, Dir: Orson Welles
V for Vendetta 2006, USA, Dir: James McTeigue
Hunger Games 2012, USA, Dir Gary Ross

2. Areas of FILM FOCUS

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 25 minutes on this. 
Film Focus Possibility – identify the broad focus area and then add specifics (e.g. “THEORY – Auteur theory” or “GENRE – Horror”). Develop at least THREE options…you can create more by adding more rows. Justification for this Film Focus. Be as specific as possible.
THEORY – Psychoanalysis I feel that this theory lends itself well to the films star wars and Hungar games since both films have protagonists whos motivation for their actions stem from a desired break away or change their lives that are defined by their social standings which they were born into
GENRE – Revolution I feel that this area of focus would work because revolution films  often begin with the protagonist being distanced or disinterested in the cause the adventure that they go on leads to their involvement
THEORY – Marxism I feel that this area of focus would fit in my comparison because it is defined as a desire to obtain and hold onto power which is present in all the films that I am considering for comparison since they all have all-consuming governments that aim only to hold onto power.


For this assessment task, “cultural context” involves consideration of some of the following factors, some of which may be blended (such as socioeconomic factors).

  • Economic, Geographical, Historical, Institutional, Political, Social, Technological
  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 30 minutes on this.
Identify at least TWO Cultural Context possibilities for your chosen films.
Justification for this Cultural Context. Be as specific as possible.
Vietnam war The development of star wars began at the very tail end of the Vietnam war which is often cited as an inspiration for the message of the film
War on Terror the war on terror started in 2001 and has only escalated and has been a backdrop for both V for Vendetta and the hunger games as terrorism is prevalent in both films

4. RESEARCH QUESTION Possibilities

Consolidate your thoughts above and develop at least ​THREE​​ different research question possibilities. More are possible by adding additional rows to the table below. FYI these will be shared with the full class for discussion of strengths and weaknesses.

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 20 minutes on this.  
Your Chosen Area of Film Focus Topic for Comparative Study (written as a research question)
THEORY – Marxism How do the desire and despisement of power in storytelling create an outline for revolution in films?
GENRE – revolution what occurrences are common amongst the protagonist in films about revolution and how do those consistencies create an outline for revolution films as a whole?
THEORY – Psychoanalysis How do the actions of characters in revolution films lead to a revolution and how does that create an outline for revolution films as a whole.

5. Final Decisions

Using your topic options in the table above, select ​ONE​​ to be your final topic for this Comparative Study task. NOTE: There are examples from the IB of what this should look like below this table.

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 10 minutes on this. 
Your Chosen Area of Film Focus Film 1 Film 2 Contrasting Cultural Context Topic for Comparative Study practice task (written as a research question)
GENRE – Revolution Star Wars: A New Hope V for Vendeta While both were made during peacetime they both were also made at the end or beginning of political conflicts have common elements appeared in revolution films over time that creates an outline for revolution films as a whole

6. Developing Your Topic

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 15 minutes on this 
Develop 3-5 main arguments that can be made about your topic based on your research question and chosen film focus. Brainstorm how you could support these arguments within your video essay.
both films have a symbol that acts as a rallying call for revolution I could examine what exactly is considered a symbol and then see if I can Identify possible symbols in each film by how they are presented
both films have something that acts as the physical personification of what the characters are revolting against I could analyze how the two things are presented in each film as well as if a large focus is a center around it
both films have a passing of the torch to someone who is prominent in the film I can identify two characters and see how their story concludes and if their ending has an element of continuation to it.

7. Selecting Supporting Evidence (Primary)

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about an hour on this section.
Identify at least 15 scenes from your chosen films that will help support the arguments you have outlined above. Screen clip a frame from each scene below. Write notes about how this scene helps support your argument. (These notes will help form your voice-over narration.)
V for Vendetta: Near the end of the scene V reveals to Mr. Creedy that the thing that is behind the mask is more than flesh it is an Idea the scene acts as a form of “evidence” within the film that the driving force behind the film is the ideas, not the people
Star Wars: Obi-Wan talks to Luke about the Jedi and describes them as the keepers of the peace this helps my argument because from this part on in the film and trilogy the ideas of the Jedi are what drives luke and by extension every other character in the film
V for Vendetta: V talks to Evey saying that the Parlement of building and the act of destroying it are both symbols this scene simply helps to show the importance of symbols in revolution films
Star Wars: the death star powers up for the first time and destroys a planet with Grand Moff Tarkin calling it a demonstration. this scene acts as a form of in-person evidence that the death star is meant to be a symbol of power for the empire
V for Vendetta: V takes over the television station and broadcasts a signal all over London this scene introduces V and his plans to the public and lights to spark of revolution in all the people who see the video
V for Vendetta: V asks Evey to dance with him and when she ask why on the eve of his revolution to which he responds that a revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having. this scene shows that the individual lives of those involved in a revolution still exist despite the turmoil amongst them
Star Wars: At a meeting, an admiral speaks out against Darth Vader and his obsession with the force until Vader cuts him off by choking him. this scene shows that the form of government in these films is a very speak only when spoken to the type of leadership and that they don’t tolerate dissension
V for Vendetta: Mr. Creedy speaks out against the grand chancellor saying that they don’t have the resources to go after V to which the chancellor responds very angrily blaming that fact on Mr. Creedy. this shows that the government in this film is similar to the government in Star Wars that has only speak when spoken to policy
Star Wars: The death star blows up after  Luke shoots by using force. this scene fulfills the idea brought up in V for Vendetta that destroying a building can change the world but in this film, it is only the start of the fight but the beginning of a new age
V for Vendetta: Parliament is destroyed by V’s train full of explosives. this fulfills the idea that destroying a building can change the world but unlike star wars, this is the end of a fight and the beginning of a new age
V for Vendetta: During V’s Speech on the television he blames the current government’s rise to power on the people. although it may seem to be the opposite this scene sets up the idea that the people are the ones with the power to make change.
V for Vendetta: As time inches closer to midnight hordes and hordes of people gather in the streets to march up to parliament. this scene shows how in a revolution the power lies more in the hands of the people rather than the hand of the government and those committing the actual acts of rebellion
Star Wars: The death star is destroyed by luke by using the force after the two other pilots are taken down. this scene suggests that the ability to rebel and fight those in power lies in the hands of the few people who are special enough to do so
V for Vendetta: As Evey and Mr. Finch watch the parliament building blow up Mr. Finch asks Evey who V was to which she responds that he was all of them this simply furthers the idea in the movie that the power was and always had been in the hands of the people
Star Wars: Luke, Han, And Chewy are acknowledged for their acts in destroying the death star. this simply furthers the idea that power to influence change lies in the hands of those who are specialists rather than the people.

*Add more rows as needed.

8. Selecting Supporting Evidence (Secondary)

  • Set a timer
  • How much time did you spend?: I spent about 30 minutes on this section.
Identify at least 3-5 secondary sources (articles, books, websites, video essays, etc.) which provide information that help support your arguments being made. In this column include the specific source citations. Summarize the detailed information from the secondary source that you can use in this column. (You can copy+paste if they are from online sources.)
An article from the conversation calls “Star Wars is a fantasy film firmly based on America’s real conflicts. this article is quite long and details the references to the American wars and conflicts found in the film techniques and plot of the film star wars.
a fandom page Called Revolution that references star wars this page details how the past revolutions of the world have played a part in the making of star wars
The hidden meaning of V for Vendetta by world Press this article goes over the deeper meaning of V for vendetta and how it was meant for citizens to see how controlling governments can become
The original V for vendetta graphic novel although this book does not discuss deeper meaning in the film the changes in it compared to the film are useful to compare since the book was written much closer to the release of star wars than the movie was made

*Add more rows as needed.

9. Writing Your Narration

Using the information, scene choices, and external sources you have compiled in parts 6-8, you will now write your voiceover narration and match it up to your chosen visual examples.

For the final Comparative Study, your narration should be no longer than 10 minutes in length.

Assemble in Two-Column AV Formatt in Celtx (Tutorial) or use Google Docs

Remember that you need to:

  • COMPARE and CONTRAST your two chosen film using the arguments and evidence you identified in parts 6-8
  • Begin your narration with a detailed justification for the chosen cultural contrast
  • Use an equal balance of the two selected films.
  • Write in a third-person voice to construct your argument (similar in tone to your Extended Essay and other
    comparative analytical work you have written in Film class).
  • Identify where any WRITTEN TEXT will appear on the screen and highlight this (to reference during the
    creation/editing stage)
Voiceover Narration Ideas Which visual evidence/scenes line up to this part of the narration?

10. Assembling the Comparative Study

Now you will collect all media resources needed for the task and construct your video essay.


  • Import the digital copy of your chosen films into editing software
  • Identify and extract chosen scenes and clips
  • Place and edit clips into a rough timeline for your video essay
  • Record audio narration (both partners should participate in narrating this practice task)
    into an audio file using recording equipment (Zoom recorders, iPhone, DSLR Rode video
    mic, etc.)
  • Import your recorded narration audio file into your project timeline
  • Assemble, edit and fine-tune clips and narration until your video essay takes shape
  • Create and add any required textual information in the timeline (including black slate at the start)
  • Audio mixing of narration and movie clips (adjust levels so that narration and movie sounds complement each other)
  • Export the final video essay movie file
    • Upload Unlisted draft to YouTube for peer review
  • Create Works Cited list separately (Google Doc)

*NOTE: Separate tutorial and tips sessions will be held throughout this process to provide guidance on recording your voice-over narration and mixing the audio levels successfully.

Examples of Possible Task Components (from the IB)

Area of film focus Film 1 Film 2 Possible topic for comparative study
Film movement: German Expressionism The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Edward Scissorhands (1990) How and with what effect are specific film elements of German expressionism used within a chosen contemporary film?
Film movement: French New Wave Breathless (1960) Badlands (1973) The influence of the French New Wave on New Hollywood’s use of innovative film elements in its representation of youth and violence.
Film genre and film style: Black comedy No. 3 (1997) The Big Lebowski (1998) To what extent do “black comedy” films differ according to cultural context?
Film theory: Soviet Montage Battleship Potemkin (1925) Koyaanisqatsi (1982) To what extent are specific features of Soviet montage theory faithfully employed in a contemporary experimental film?

External Assessment Criteria SL and HL

Peer Review Checklist


TASK COMPONENTS (ACTION) Notes / Suggestions
__ Assemble Findings
__ Develop a personal and critically reflective perspective
__ Identify and gather appropriate audio-visual material to support the study
__ Justify the chosen topic and selected films
__ Make sure that the text is in a formal academic register (can be in the 1st person)
__ Balance between visual and spoken elements
__ Make clear reference to your sources as on-screen citations (text on-screen)
__ Make sure primary weight of evidence for the study from the two chosen films
__ Make sure each film is given equal consideration
__ Make sure film language information is communicated clearly throughout (avoid “to be” verbs – make statements like “blah is this.”)
__ Make sure information is communicated logically rooted in film language
__ Have another student highlight the WHAT WHY HOW in your draft screenplay
__ Recorded voice and edited commentary numerous times until happy with the material
__ Make sure your name and the school’s name ARE NOT IN THE ESSAY
__ Make sure to have 10 second title card with: 1. Area of film focus, 2. Titles of the two films for comparison, and 3. The chosen topic
__ Include breaks in your recorded commentary to enable other audio-visual material included in the study to be clearly heard (if needed)
__ Make sure film clip length matches points being made
__ Make sure still images have citations on-screen, if you have them
__ Make sure text on screen is legible and spelled correctly
__ Make sure information is communicated audibly (levels are good for all sound)
__ Make sure information is communicated visually appropriate manner
__ Make sure background music is from Creative Commons and is cited
__ Make sure edits are clean
__ Make sure presentation is 10 minutes maximum, including title card and credits
__ Make sure two films are listed in sources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *