How to Write a Reaction Paper to a Movie

How to Write a Reaction Paper to a Movie

As a student, it is imperative that you know how to write a reaction paper to a movie. This is a paper that clearly explains your reaction to a movie or film. It can be like a review based on the fact that your reaction goes ahead to involve evaluation, judgment, and a bit of analysis. Your reaction will further focus on a specific character, scene, film technique, and relationship.

Reaction essays to a movie may also appear like a journal entry because it presents an author’s personal reaction as opposed to making an attempt to offer detailed analysis or definitive judgment. It also develops one main perception or order supporting it with solid evidence.

How to write a reaction paper to a movie guide

With the right guidelines on how to write a reaction paper to a movie, you are guaranteed of a successful paper. You will also save a great deal on time by employing the right outline and these guidelines

Do not repeat the story

The rule of thumb when writing a response paper ton a movie is to focus on the major theme or themes in the film. Avoid retelling the story because it will be hard for the reader to understand what the film is all about if you do so. The point of a good reaction is not the movie itself but the message.

Therefore, your first paragraph should be the introduction of the topic. This should include issue or issues that you are going to focus on. Ensure the introductory paragraph is brief, four to five sentences and discusses clearly the issue that will be revealed in the film or movie you are writing about.


Provide a bibliography based on the writing format that is recommended. However, avoid copies of the entire reviews in your paper. As a matter of fact, you only need a bibliographic reference to respond to a movie. Most importantly, cite references in the body of your essay using a standard format.


Use proper paragraphs in your essays. Ensure good transitions between the paragraphs to help the reader follow up on the story line. Do not run all your ideas in one paragraph but emphasize the main points in different paragraphs.

Focus on basic grammar and punctuation

Emphasize and focus on issues that are available secondarily in the film but do not lose focus in the main theme of the essay

Do not be a critic

Master how to write a reaction paper to a movie without being a critic. The performance of the actor or actors should not worry you. Insofar as subtleties of direction and editing should be a concern because they count a lot in any kind of reaction paper.

Be precise and straight to the point

Ordinarily, it is imperative to write your response to a movie in three pages. Follow the above guidelines and make solid points to cover important issues thoroughly. It is good to note that if you do not write clearly, it will be very hard to develop your arguments.

Outline for your essay

  • Write a plot summary briefly
  • Write the movie’s theme and purpose
  • explain how the themes were brought about
  • state any filmmaking technique
  • compare the movie with others silent or sound
  • Write your overall reaction, was the movie successful? Did it achieve its goals; was it worth recommending to others? State good and bad points etc.

How to write a reaction and techniques to help you avoid retelling the story

For practical and writers who have mastered how to write a reaction paper to a movie, retelling the story is usually a problem. It happens naturally as you focus on the plot of the film, describe events and scenes as they occur, or even weave your analysis into the structure of the film. Without your knowledge, you have restated the story thus, putting off readers.

The purpose of a reaction paper is to help the reader understand and appreciate ideas and elements that are less obvious. Therefore,

  • Narrow down your thesis; focus on a single scene or a secondary character. Avoid focusing on a central theme and main characters because you will most likely follow them and retell the story.
  • Emphasize on topic sentences in body paragraphs
  • Limit your summary to a single short paragraph (this is a mechanical approach that suits learners and competent writers)
  • Assume that the reader has already watched the movie or film therefore, no need for you to retell what he or she already knows.

Steps to help you master how to write a reaction paper to a movie

Reaction papers are mainly used to gauge whether you understand the film content or material. Tutors also use the paper to determine whether you know how film content fits the context of the theme. For this reasons, you do not need a summary or personal opinion. You ought to focus strongly on the movie as literature and see how it fits into the context of what you are studying.

Hence, you need to

Treat the movie as literature

Focus on the themes of the movie and motifs you come across in the film. Write about dialogue, characterization and especially if you are watching a movie that is novel based. Try as much as possible to compare the novel to the movie in terms of story line and style and the manner in which the characters match your expectations or surprise you. Ask yourself whether the story works best as a book or a movie and how are they different?

Choose the ideal focus for your paper

It is essential to select the ideal focus for your essay to understand how to a reaction paper to a movie. For instance, identify where the film is accurate and where it assumes an artistic license or so. If you feel more connected to specific characters than you possibly thought, talk about it.

Additionally, talk about how the characters are portrayed with special features of each character. For instance, who is more charming or sympathetic? Based on your knowledge did the characters surprise you, how is a certain period portrayed and so forth. Remember to include elements of the movie that truly tipped you off to the period it was made.

Choose the elements to include

It is essential to choose elements to include in your reaction paper. For instance, you can determine production elements to tell your story. What is effective, could it have been worse or better. Try to differentiate between cinematography, the acting and the screen writing. Did these elements work in harmony in your essay or is it the case with the director’s work? Let the reader understand whether the film was surprising or predictable.

Review the essay

Once the essay is complete, review it to be sure that you included all details explaining your thinking or thoughts. Is your language clear? Evaluate spelling, punctuation and the format of your paper for consistency. Proofreading and editing is essential for your essay because a paper that is full of mechanical errors is very hard to understand.

TIP: A little research on the making of the film you are responding to, the vision of the director, source of material and content is essential. It helps you to write an effective reaction.

Reaction paper to movie examples

Example 1: Movie, Jose Rizal

The movie, Jose Rizal focuses on the story of Jose Rizal, a state hero of the Philippines. It is a 3-hour epic on the life and struggles of his patriotism and poetry. It also focuses on his life from childhood to execution at the hands of Spanish forces who occupied the Philippines in late 19th century. We are also thrown into Rizal’s world of novels and we get a glimpse of the way he viewed the society of the Philippines under Spanish heal.

Read the reaction paper  above and see how the author employs different writing strategies.

Example 2

Topic: Marriage Material

The movie, Marriage Material is a close look at the relationship between two people, Andrew and Emily. Due to a simple friendship gesture, they are forced to take a serious look at their relationship. In this case, the unexpected happens, and the consequences come out when Andrew and Emily offer to baby sit their friend’s son who is seven months old for the day. After doing so, it is quite novelty for the two and is even more for Emily than Andrew……………………………………………………………………………

The reaction paper to Marriage Material above will help learn more on how to write your reaction paper. Here, you will also get more guidelines on how to draft your essay.

 Example 3

Movie: Gandhi

Gandhi, ‘‘an eye for an eye in the end only makes the whole world blind’’. One of the most popular quotes by Mohandas Karamchand Gandi or Mahatma Gandhi was born in 2nd October in 1869, in Porbandar Kathiawar Agency, British Indian Empire. When Mahatma was 13 years old, his father and other, Karamchand and Putiblai respectively arranged his marriage to Kasturbai Makhanji………………………………

How to Write a Reaction Paper to a Movie: References

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