"The Visitor" film essay

Hi, it would be amazing if I could have some feedback for my film essay.

2020 NCEA L2

  1. Analyse how stereotypes were presented for a particular purpose.

The Visitor is a film where Tom McCarthy shows Muslims not as stereotypes, but as individuals. McCarthy uses stereotypes of New Yorkers and the Statue of Liberty to show how the unwillingness to learn from other cultures causes us to make gross generalisations. This is the polar opposite to McCarthy’s lack of stereotypes for its Arab and Muslim characters. He wants us to learn that people are defined by neither ethnicity nor religion, and that it is not the immigrants but the policies that cause the division in American society.

McCarthy uses the stereotypical ignorant New Yorker to show that prejudice is caused by lack of understanding. Even though the USA is commonly regarded as a place of freedom and diversity, many have resisted accepting people from other cultures and even learning about them. As Zainab tells a customer that she comes from Senegal, the customer attempts to relate with her by saying that she has been to Cape Town, a city 5000 kilometers away from Senegal. The customer seems to think of Africa as a country, and this misrepresentation leads to the harmful thought that Africa has only one culture and one type of people. McCarthy uses this stereotype to place a magnifying glass upon why so many Americans fear outsiders. The New Yorker’s ignorance highlights how dangerous it is to group entire countries and cultures into a single place. It seems as if us humans fear the things that we do not know or understand.

The Statue of Liberty is shown by McCarthy as the stereotypically American symbol of freedom. For many immigrants, this statue was the first impression of the USA as they approached their new home. For many, it was also the first image of freedom they have seen in a long time. The statue embodies hope along with opportunity for those who seeked a better life, however McCarthy’s juxtaposition with the painting of the statue in the detention centre says otherwise. His tracking shot of Walter slowly walking out of the cells is solemn, sending a chilling message to the audience: the Government seems to have forgotten the bright torch that lights our way towards liberty. The director provokes difficult questions to the viewer: is it sensible to think of the United States as a place of freedom and diversity when tyrannical events like deportations take place?

People are more than just their religion, and the director deliberately omits the hurtful stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims to show this effect on the viewer. The lack of constantly praying, hijab-wearing Muslims in the film shows how McCarthy wants the audience to realise that not all Muslims are terrorists — most of them are people who have feelings, people who just want to find peace in another country — and the truth is that these people are all around us. McCarthy leaves out these stereotypes in order to paint better ideals of the USA. It is not the immigrants that are the problem, but rather it is the policies and violence that are placed upon them that cause so much division in American society and ultimately around the world.

Discrimination can be ended by opening up and being willing to learn and seeing past each other’s differences. Remove Tarek and Zainab’s ethnicities and religion and they are just a couple working to put food on the table. In the end, we are all humans and it is only until when everyone sees each other equally can we find ourselves in peace. It is only unfortunate that these stereotypes don’t just live in the past.

I just want to ask, is this for exam practise or an assessment?

Kia ora - welcome to the Studyit community!

You have a good intro here which is quite clear on purpose and sets up your argument well. Overall you clearly have some strong ideas and are answering the question in a focused way.

One thing that would help to improve this is by making sure you are weaving a range of specific evidence throughout - your first paragraph would benefit from more detail about the CRAFT of a director and how this is used to highlight the stereotype and purpose- for example, what specific dialogue was used? was there any specific camera work that helped emphasise the idea to the viewer? Did the costume help set up the stereotype? You do this better in the second paragraph, so take note of what you have done there and try to replicate it. You need to set up why it is a stereotype and how it is shown (with specific evidence) before unpacking why it was used.

Third paragraph - again, a lack of specific example, you have mentioned what the Muslim characters are not shown doing - but what ARE they shown doing and how has the director done this? there needs to be more textual analysis here.

Some good work here, has the makings of a very good essay with some tweaking :slight_smile:

Even though I’m doing English with literature instead of English with film, I got to say this essay is great.

You gave a precise answer to the question and that’s important. You linked your essay to wider world connections (which is what the marker is looking for) yet you should go in-depth with the wider connections. You could write a little summary about the film so your audience would have an idea about where you are heading.

But overall great essay

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Hi, this is for my own practising.