MUSIC 110 Cuyamaca College Citizen Kane Drama Movie Essay

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1. Choose to write your essay on either Vertigo OR Citizen Kane.

2. Answer all the prompts below for that movie.

3. Other essay requirements:

  • IN YOUR OWN WORDS. I want and expect student writing. Sharing essays with others constitutes cheating and will result in a zero for both parties. I will FAIL cut and paste jobs.
  • 1-2 pages in length
  • 12-pt Times New Roman; double spaced
  • Spelling, capitalization and word usage should be accurate to receive full credit.
  • You MUST include a Works Cited page and cite ALL sources in MLA format. You must use in-text citations. Please ask the Tutoring Center (Links to an external site.) if you need help! Use in-line citations or footnotes or it will be assumed that you copy and pasted and you will receive a ZERO.

Go here (Links to an external site.) for instructions on how to do in-line citations.

4. Upload PDF, DOC, or DOCX file formats ONLY! (No “Pages” format. You will receive a zero if I cannot read your essay.) Do not put your essay in the comments box.




1. Do the reading for this unit on the music of Herrmann in Vertigo. Click here to go to the reading.


  • Using your textbook, define “ostinato”.
  • How does Herrmann use ostinato – what effect does this compositional technique create in the viewer? Cite your sources.


  • Who was the director of Vertigo? Provide a brief bio in your own words and cite your sources.
  • Who was the music composer for Vertigo? Provide a brief bio in your own words and cite your sources.

2. Find the clip “Kim Novak in Vertigo (1958)”

  • IMPORTANT! Watch this clip TWICE. First with NO SOUND, second time WITH SOUND.
  • ANSWER: After watching the clip without – then WITH sound – what information does the music give you about the characters that you would not know otherwise (there is no dialogue in this scene).

3. Find the clip “Vertigo (10/11) Movie CLIP – Judy Becomes Madeleine (1958)” on the Viewing and Listening page in the Unit: Movie Music 1

  • Watch the entire clip.
  • ANSWER: How does Herrmann’s music work in this scene? At what point in the action does the music reach its high point? How is this reflected in the visual (the lighting effects in particular?) Cite your sources.




1. Read the synopsis here (Links to an external site.).

2. Read about the musical score here (Links to an external site.).

3. Read about the composer here (Links to an external site.).

4. Watch the Breakfast Scene clip below (do NOT watch the movie from the beginning!).here (Links to an external site.)Citizen Kane: Breakfast montage

5. Answer the following prompts in an essay.

  • Who was the director of Citizen Kane? Provide a brief bio in your own words and cite your sources.
  • Who was the music composer for Citizen Kane? Provide a brief bio in your own words and cite your sources.
  • Describe the music during each of the following time segments. What is happening in the scene at each point? How does the music support the dialogue?
  1. 0:30-1:17
  2. 1:18-2:00
  3. 2:00-2:39


Movie Essay Rubric

Movie Essay Rubric

Criteria Ratings Pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeEssay is clearly original student work. Essay length is at least one page with proper formatting. Basic grammar, word use, spelling, contractions and capitalizations are all correct. Academic language and style are used. Citations are included with a Works Cited page (MLA). Proper file formats were used.

15.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeAll prompts are answered thoroughly and student references reading material that was assigned.

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeStudent observations are highly accurate and descriptive. Understanding of how the music supports the action in the film is nuanced and well researched.

5.0 pts

Total Points: 25.0

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