Citing Films, Videos and DVDs
Translation students often cite examples from films to illustrate cultural
differences, subtitle mistranslations, or numerous other items. In
general, film citation format follows that of Television and Radio Programs; if the film was
viewed on television, they will be largely the same.
However, there are also differences: TV programs will have been
"broadcast," whereas most films are cited either from a cinema screening
or, more likely these days, from a DVD edition. With DVD editions there
is often much additional material which may be used in research papers.
The following gives examples of different film citations, including
citation procedures for the special features of DVD films.
Basic Film Citations
A film citation usually begins with the title of the film, and
includes the director, the distributor, and the year of
release, in that order. These four levels of detail must be in
any film citation. As with TV and Radio Programs, additional detail
which is relevant to your paper, such as the names of the
writer(s), performer(s), producer, etc., may be added. If so, it is added
between the title and the distributor. For example:
If the film was produced in another language, and subtitled or dubbed into
English, then the original (foreign language) name of the film should
be included in brackets following the English title, as follows:
- American Graffiti. Dir. George Lucas. Universal Pictures,
- American Graffiti. Written by George Lucas, Gloria Katz and
Willard Huyck. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Richard Dreyfuss, Ronny Howard,
Paul Le Mat, Charlie Martin Smith, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Cindy
Williams and Wolfman Jack. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Universal
- Life is Beautiful [La vita è bella].
Screenplay by Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni. Dir. Roberto Benigni.
Perf. Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi. Miramax, 1998.
Citing a Particular Individual in a Film
As with TV and Radio citations, one can also cite a specific person's role
in a film, with that person's name then coming first. For example:
- Benigni, Roberto, perf. Life is Beautiful [La vita
è bella]. Screenplay by Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni.
Dir. Roberto Benigni. Miramax, 1998. (or)
- Lucas, George, dir. American Graffiti. Universal Pictures,
Citing the Videocassette (VHS) or DVD Release of a Film
If you have viewed the film from a VHS or DVD (or videodisc, etc.)
release, rather than the original cinematic release, then both the
particular medium (VHS, DVD, etc.) and its release date should be added to
the original cinema release date (where there was an original cinematic
release date it is possible the films will not have ever been
released for general cinema distribution). The original release date and
medium information comes before the name of the distributor for the VHS or
DVD edition, as follows:
- It's a Wonderful Life. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. James
Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, and Thomas Mitchell. 1946.
Videocassette. Republic, 1996.
- American Graffiti. Dir. George Lucas. 1973. DVD. Columbia
Tristar Home Video, 2000.
- Don Carlo. By Giuseppe Verdi. Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. Perf.
Luciano Pavarotti and Samual Ramey. La Scala Orch. and Chorus. Cond.
Riccardo Muti. Videocassette. EMI, 1994.
[this was a recording of a live performance, so there was no previous
Citing Particular Scenes and Special Features in a DVD Edition
Increasingly, students are citing films from their DVD versions, rather
than VHS or cinema versions. The DVD versions offer several
advantages over the other media. One particular advantage is the ability
to cite more precisely the location in the film for the material you are
citing by employing the DVD's "scene (chapter) divisions."
Consider the basic citation for the DVD version of Girl With a Pearl
Earring, based on a novel by Tracy Chevalier and adapted for the
screen by Olivia Hetreed. Directed by Peter Webber, produced by Andy
Paterson, and starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson, the film was
originally distributed for cinematic viewing in 2003 by Pathé
Distribution Limited, and subsequently released on DVD (in Europe) in 2004
by 20th Century Fox:
But with only the above data, if one were citing, for example, a
particular section of dialogue in the film and the reader of the paper
wanted to view this for herself and rented the DVD, where in the 95
minutes of running time would she find the language?
Girl With a Pearl Earring. Dir. Peter Webber. 2003. DVD.
20th Century Fox, 2004. (or)
- Girl With a Pearl Earring. Screenplay by Olivia Hetreed. Dir.
Peter Webber. Produced by Andy Paterson. Perf. Colin Firth and Scarlett
Johansson. 2003. DVD. 20th Century Fox, 2004.
Using the DVD's "scene selections," one can specify the location more
precisely. The film is divided into 20 scenes, ranging from 1. The New
Maid to 20. Credits. In between are, among others, 7.
Camera Obscura and 13. First Sitting. Thus, with a DVD
version, if one were discussing Vermeer's possible use of a camera
obscura in his painting, as represented by the film, one could add the
scene to the citation (as well as mentioning it in the text of the paper).
The viewer of the DVD film could then go directly to this scene, rather
than having to view the entire film, hoping to find the right scene.
The paper's text, for example, might say "in the film, Johannes Vermeer
demonstrates to Griet how a camera obscura helped him visualize the
color and light contrasts and depth of field of the subjects he was
painting (Girl, Scene 7). This would point to the Works Cited
entry as follows, with the scene added to the end of the citation, similar
to how specific page numbers in a print source would be added:
The above assumes that only Scene 7 was cited in the paper. If several
scenes were used, each might be mentioned, or if there were numerous
references to different scenes, then the particular scenes would only need
to be mentioned in the in-text citation (again equivalent to how page
numbers would be used in a print version).
- Girl With a Pearl Earring. Screenplay by Olivia Hetreed.
Dir. Peter Webber. Produced by Andy Paterson. Perf. Colin Firth and
Scarlett Johansson. 2003. DVD. 20th Century Fox, 2004. Scene 7.
Examples From Student Papers of In-text DVD Scene Citation
Further examples of in-text citations for DVD scenes can be found in the
following FAST student papers.
Jenny Perttola's US-7 paper Emma Becomes
How a 19th Century Classic Novel Turned into a 20th Century Popular
Film compares Jane Austen's novel Emma with the film
Clueless, a modernized Hollywood adaptation of the plot. Jenny had
used a DVD version of Clueless as her source. Notice the in-text
citation to Scene 1 of the film as follows [and also the location of a
citation to an 'indented long quotation' outside the closing punctuation]:
Narrator (Cher): 'So, okay, you're probably going, "Is this like a Noxzema
commercial or what?" But seriously, I actually have a way-normal life for
a teenage girl. I mean I get up, I brush my teeth, and I pick out my
school clothes.' (Clueless, Scene 1)
Several sections later in the paper, when discussing Dionne, successive
sentences have citations to different scenes from the DVD. Notice how the
first is (Clueless, Scene 4), whereas the following citation in the
same paragraph is only (Scene 5), since it is clear from context that both
scenes were from the Clueless DVD.
Rosamaaria Perttola's US-7 paper Images of
Popularity in Selected High School Movies: Myth vs Reality? gives
further examples of using only 'short' in-text citations such as (Scene 8)
or (Scene 1) by establishing the film's identity prior to the cited
Citing Special Features in a DVD Film
Most 'new' DVD films have a variety of special features, including
commentaries by the director and/or producer, interviews with the leading
performers, deleted scenes, 'anatomy of a scene' features, etc. Such
features would be cited separately from the film itself.
For example, the DVD version of Girl With a Pearl Earring has
two full-length commentaries on the film, one with the director and
producer of the film, Peter Webber and Andy Paterson, which mainly
discusses technical and production details; the other with the author of
the original novel, Tracy Chevalier, and the woman who adapted the novel
for the screen, Olivia Hetreed. This commentary focuses on the many ways
in which the book version differed from the screen version, and why
different solutions were considered necessary for the film.
The commentary is especially interesting when the two authors discuss
how each needed to "let go" of their own version in order for the film to
succeed. First Chevalier turned over the novel to Hetreed, who cut a
great deal of detail, added some information, and rearranged much of the
rest in order for the story to work in a different medium. Then Hetreed
herself had to "let go" of her version as the performers, sound and light
technicians, weather, and other factors required script modifications. In
all of this the story and its language was constantly changing. A further
point on which Chevalier and Hetreed marveled was how the "weight" given
by the performers to the pronunciation of certain words, or the gestures
and facial expressions which accompanied them, had an influence on their
meaning. In all, there was much that would concern any paper which
treated aspects of film production.
If one were citing this commentary, then, it might be:
One could also add the scenes for which particular comments were made,
since the scenes can be viewed with either of the commentaries turned on
in place of the original soundtrack.
- Chevalier, Tracy, and Olivia Hetreed, commentary. Girl With a
Pearl Earring. Dir. Peter Webber. Produced by Andy Paterson. Perf.
Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. 2003. DVD. 20th Century Fox, 2004.
Since it is easy to distinguish Chevalier's and Hetreed's voices, it
would also be possible to cite only one of them, if only one of their
views was relevant to your paper. In this case it might be:
Other features in DVD films would be cited in ways similar to the above.
One simply needs to add to the basic data required of any film citation
(Title, Director, Distributor, Year of Release) the particular details
of who or what your citation emphasizes (a director, performer,
screenwriter, particular scene, etc.), plus the additional detail needed
when the film has appeared in a DVD edition subsequent to the original
cinematic release (adding "DVD" plus the "DVD release year" in addition to
the original cinema-release year).
- Chevalier, Tracy, commentary. Girl With a Pearl Earring.
Screenplay by Olivia Hetreed. Dir. Peter Webber. Produced by Andy
Paterson. Perf. Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. 2003. DVD. 20th
Century Fox, 2004. Scene 7.
PK6 Class Schedule
Citation Examples Index
PK6 Reference Index
Last Updated 25 October 2010