S4 Media Response Behind Enemy Lines Essay Plan

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S4 Media Response

Behind Enemy Lines

Essay Plan

TITLE: An examination of the ways in which American values and ideals are promoted and represented in the film 'Behind Enemy Lines'
1. Introduction

You should mention:

  • Name of the text: Behind Enemy Lines

  • Director(s): John Moore

  • Release Date: US - November 2001 / UK 04/01 /02

  • Genre: War/Action

  • Context: Explain that it was seen as an attempt to restore American national pride following the September 11th attacks. You could give background info on how much the film made etc.

• Explain the focus of your essay: to show how American values are represented in the film/to portray America in a positive light.

Example introduction

'Behind Enemy Lines', directed by John Moore, is an action-adventure war film. It achieved box office success in America following its November 2001 release and similar success in the UK following release on the 4th of January 2002. It is widely regard as an attempt by the American movie industry to revitalise American national pride following the September 11th attacks. The film uses the story of an American flight navigator's experience of being behind enemy lines. His journey to escape is used to represent America in a positive way by portraying by showing American’s to posses superior personal qualities, attributes and superior military technology . This is achieved through narrative structure, aspects of mise en scene, and representation.

  1. Narrative (PLOT Summary) – You have notes in your jotter to help with this.

Fit the plot into the Classic Hollywood narrative structure (Equilibrium model):

  • Explain that the narrative begins with an equilibrium - explain what things
    are like at the start of the film.

  • Next there is a disruption to the equilibrium - explain about the plane being
    shot down

  • Next the disruption is recognized - Mention the execution and the call to

  • There is then an attempt to restore the disruption - Describe Burnett's
    attempt to survive/the navy's attempt to rescue him.

  • Return to a second equilibrium - Burnett's change of attitude/war crimes
    trial in/Serbia/Crimes revealed to the world/ Reiggart loses command.

3. First American value - they are civilised; the enemy is not.

  • Show, in detail, how the film highlights the differences between the Americans and the Serbs.

Scenes that you could use to help with your analysis include:

  • The opening of the film when American troops are shown planting trees

  • The angel statue is shown when Burnett is parachuting to the ground following the plane being shot down

  • The chaos and destruction inflicted on Burnett and Stackhouse when they are shot down is juxtaposed with images of Serb troops celebrating with reckless gunfire

  • The Serb troops treatment of Stackhouse reveals their uncivilized behavior in that their actions go against the Geneva Convention

First American value continued…

  • They are uncivilized towards each other. We see the American’s preparing to go in to rescue Burnett while Sasha leaves the Serb captain for dead at the landmine incident

Example Topic Sentence:

The first key American value that is portrayed in the film is that America is civilized; the enemy is not. This value is highlighted when....

4. Second American value - American military technology is superior.

  • Pick out sections from the film and explain in detail how these sections show the superiority of American technology.

Scenes that you could use to help with your analysis include:

Example Topic Sentence

It is clear throughout the film that the filmmakers want to demonstrate that
American military technology is superior. This is made clear by the moment in the film when…

5. Third American value - they are brave and determined.

  • Pick a section from the film that shows this (not the end of the film). Show, in detail, how this impression of Burnett is created

(Note – you do not necessarily have to focus on Burnett for this section. Furthermore, if your word count is becoming too high this may be a good section to miss out.)
Scenes that you could use to help with your analysis include:

  • The American troops gather to prepare for Burnett’s rescue

Example Topic Sentence

Another key value is that Americans are brave and determined. This is suggested by the way in which Burnett is represented when…

6. Fourth American Value - The enemy is always evil.

  • Explain in some detail how the representation of the Serbs illustrates this value. You should refer to specific characters and events in the film in detail.

Scenes/ideas you could use to help with your analysis:

  • Costume/appearance /props – wear dark clothing, balaclavas create a dehunanising effect, shown smoking – an undesirable quality etc.

  • Language – Language is used without subtitles at some points to distance the audience from the Serb troops.

  • The scene where Burnett is in the pit of bodies and we see flashbacks to how these people were killed.

Example topic sentence:

The way in which the Serbs are represented in the film can be seen as an attempt to portray the idea that the enemy is always evil.
7. Fifth American Value - They are strong, brave and heroic.

  • Explain in some detail how the representation of the Americans illustrates this value. You should use the ending to illustrate this point

Fifth value continued…

Scenes/ideas you could use to help with your analysis:

  • Burnett going over the ice

  • Burnett turning away from the rescue part to go pack and get the disk

  • The strength of America is portrayed through the dominance of the Helicopters over the Serb army’s weaponry.

Example Topic Sentence:

It is clear that the filmmakers wish to use the film to portray that the Americans are strong, brave and heroic. This is shown by...

8. Sixth American Value - America always wins.

  • Show, in detail, how the final section of the film illustrates this value. You should comment on the believability of this final section.

Scenes/ideas you could use to help with your analysis:

  • Gun falling when Burnett goes through the mine field foreshadows the idea that America will win.

  • Success is shown in the ending when all problems are resolved and they fly away into the sunset.

Example topic sentence:

A key moment in the film that illustrates the value that America always wins takes place during the final section. This value is highlighted as...

9. Conclusion

  • Have the filmmakers successfully promoted each of the values?

  • What are your impressions of the film/this type of film/American films?

  • Do you think the picture created of America in the film is realistic/unrealistic?

  • Start your conclusion with a concluding word or phrase and go on to answer the above points.

e.g. In conclusion, I feel that the filmmakers have successfully portrayed each of the six American values as...


The powerpoint with pictures from the key moments on the film and a guide to analysis is available on GLOW using your log-on, or on my wikispace www.klmain.wikispaces.com

This essay must be handed in on the first day back after the October holiday – Tuesday 20th October. People who have had a full draft marked should re-draft it based on my comments for the same deadline.
It is really important that you don’t miss any deadlines this year as we must stay on-track for completing our folios to the highest standard. In addition, we will be dealing with the personal study, reflective writing, and working on close reading skills when you return after the holidays so you can’t afford to get behind with this or you’ll create a massive backlog for yourself.
If you finish your essay during the October break, I would be delighted to receive it by email so that I can mark it for returning to school: kmain@peebles.scotborders.sch.uk I will acknowledge receipt of any essays and, aim to mark them electronically so that re-drafting is made easier for you.
You can get on your school email from home using this link:

Don’t leave essays till the last minute and be sure to give every piece of work your best effort. We’re aiming for grade 1s!
All missed deadlines will be reported to parents by letter immediately!

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