I'm currently putting the finishing touches on my bachelor's thesis. One part of that thesis is an analysis of a movie. I have written a short synopsis of the movie to go with it, however that is probably not enough for a complete understanding of the points I make in my analysis. I can't make the summary substantially longer as I have already reached the upper character limited set by my university for the bachelor's thesis. But I also believe that a written summary, however detailed, can not replace having watched the movie, as I'm talking about fine detail of the graphic style and aesthetics which can't be fully described using text only. In my analysis, I also reference other movies of the same director and explain how some topics and metaphors are used in those as well as in the movie I'm analyzing.

I am not sure how to deal with this. I can't just ask my professor to watch several movies in order to understand my analysis. But I also don't want to be graded badly because my analysis requires the reader to have watched the film (I believe that this is true of any detailed analysis of any work, so it's not just a flaw in my thesis that I should correct).

Here's what I have done so far:

  • I've included screenshots of the Blu-Ray release of the movie to illustrate some of my points.
  • There's a footnote at the end of my summary of the film that explains that this summary doesn't replace watching the actual movie and having not watched it might hinder the comprehension of the following analysis.
  • At the first mention of another movie, there's another footnote that contains a link to the official website of the director, which has detailed synopses of the mentioned movies. However, those can't replace the actual movies either.

I have thought about including a digital version of the movie when I turn in the thesis, but I don't think it's a good idea. I don't know if the assay office would even accept it, and even though I own the DVD-version of the movie, it would probably not be legal to give out copies. Also this wouldn't solve the problem when I put the thesis up on my website.

So how do I deal with this? Do I just ignore it as there is no better solution? Or is there a standard way of mentioning prerequisites for the understanding of a thesis?

I understand that I can include the movies in the list of references or just make it a separate list. However, the books that I reference in my thesis are not required to understand the points I make, as book references usually include the relevant quotes or repeat the points made by the authors. So I am not sure if this is sufficient.

1 Answer 1


I don't think I see a problem here.

If you were writing a literary analysis of Jane Eyre, you wouldn't include the full text of the novel in your paper, and it'd be entirely reasonable to expect the reader to read the novel in order to understand your paper. I don't see why a film should be any different.

Your professor can, and should, watch the film, and any others they find necessary in order to make sense of your analysis. That's not an unreasonable thing to expect, it's just part of their job, like any other background reading they might need to do. If you can lend them your DVD, or tell them how to otherwise get it, that would be a nice courtesy.

Other readers will have to make out as best they can. It might be nice to list on your website some ways they could acquire the film (Amazon link, Netflix availability, etc) but again this is more a courtesy than an academic requirement.

But to really cut the knot: Just ask your professor. They are in the best position to advise you, both on the academic standards of your field as to the content of the thesis, and as to what resources would be helpful to them personally in evaluating it.

  • Thank you! I'm always a bit wary of asking my professors how they would like it, as I believe the 'correct' way of dealing with such issues should not be based on personal preferences of respective professor but rather on general principles of academic writing. Of course that position puts me and my grade at risk, but I'm willing to take that stance and potentially accept that as a consequence
    – MoritzLost
    Sep 21, 2016 at 15:36
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    I think you're taking this far too seriously. Obviously you should follow general principles of academic writing, and your professor is an excellent person to help you learn what those principles are, so you can certainly ask them about that aspect. On the other hand, questions like "should I give them a copy of the DVD" are not about the content of your thesis, they're just about making it more convenient for your professor to evaluate it. And only they can really answer what is most convenient for them. Sep 21, 2016 at 15:40
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    In other words, your professors are entirely capable of distinguishing between what is abstractly desirable in the thesis and what is personally helpful to them, and can advise you on those two points separately: trust them to do it. If you are unclear as to which is which, you can always ask for clarification. It is foolish to pass up this obvious source of help; having access to it is the whole point of attending a university. There should be no question of "putting your grade at risk". Sep 21, 2016 at 15:43
  • @MoritzLost - "I believe the 'correct' way of dealing with such issues should not be based on personal preferences of respective professor but rather on general principles of academic writing. Of course that position puts me and my grade at risk, but I'm willing to take that stance and potentially accept that as a consequence" -- very weird comment. Makes me wonder if there's more to this than meets the eye, e.g. is there some simmering tension under the surface? Sep 22, 2016 at 20:08
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    @aparente001 while this may be the case, it is all too often that students overthink to extreme lengths the most trivial things, and act as if professors were members of some alien race that we have barely started to comprehend.
    – Davidmh
    Sep 23, 2016 at 1:58

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