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Film & Media Studies Research Guide

Citing Films in Your Paper

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The preferred citation style for the Film and Media Department is MLA. See the page Citing Sources - MLA Style on this guide.

Citing films 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 the MLA Handbook do suggest separate Works Cited entries for films. This includes 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 and media 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 or Blu-ray 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.

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. Many foreign films have been cut and re-edited for theatrical release in the U.S. And with the advent of DVD, it is not uncommon for films to have footage added or removed specifically for the DVD release, such as "unrated" or "extended" versions. These differ from the original theatrical release.