Film Analysis Assignment (Roman Holiday) [MCOM 4731 & 6731/IFDI 5731 – Film Analysis Assignment]

For my screenwriting class, we had to write a film analysis paper for a film that was awarded or nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay.

Film Analysis Assignment

Due Date:  Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Students will choose a film from the list below and write a 3-5-page paper (single-spaced), discussing the important aspects of the film they chose to view for class.  Students are encouraged to choose a film they have not seen before, since the purpose of this assignment is to expand overall film knowledge.


The first portion of the paper will be dedicated to the identification and explanation of the following structural elements of the film:

  • Plot
  • Subplot(s)
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Theme
  • The film’s turning points (all seven turning points)
  • Setting (all four aspects)
  • The genre of the film


During the second portion of the paper, students are encouraged to analyze a film from their personal viewpoint.  Students should ask themselves questions such as, did you relate to the characters while you were watching the film?  Were you rooting for the protagonist?  Were there believable character arcs throughout the entire film for the main characters?


Throughout the entire paper, students are expected to make a thorough analysis of the film; therefore, it may be necessary to view the film more than once.


Below are the films you may choose from:

The Godfather

The Godfather, Part II

When Harry Met Sally

The Verdict

All the President’s Men

The Graduate

Roman Holiday

Singin’ In the Rain

Dead Poets Society

Good Will Hunting


Ellis Sutton

MCOM 4731 & 6731/IFDI 5731 –

Film Analysis Assignment


For this analysis, I watched the debut performance of a graceful, talented, and generous actress, the late Audrey Hepburn.  It was Roman Holiday.  This film won several Academy Awards including Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn and Best Story (At the time, the awards for story and screenplay were two separate awards) for Dalton Trumbo (Ian McLellan Hunter who wrote the screenplay along with John Dighton, and who was nominated for writing it along with him was credited for the story accepted the Best Story Oscar because Trumbo was part of the Hollywood Blacklist, and therefore, could not be credited; Trumbo would, in later years, eventually be credited for winning the award, and in 1983, his widow was given the Oscar that was rightfully his and should have been awarded to him in the first place).

The film focuses on a Princess Ann, who is the princess of an unspecified European country.  Ann is on a goodwill tour of various European capital cities, including London, Amsterdam, Paris, and currently, Rome.

Ann, however, is feeling very jaded and disenchanted with life as the member of a Royal family.  Her life is very choreographed.  She always has a packed schedule filled with dedicating buildings, meeting dignitaries, and attending balls where she has to dance with several of the male guests in attendance, and where she has to stand for a long time, in high heel shoes, to meet, greet, and shake hands with the various royal people in attendance.

At nighttime, Ann is very emotionally upset about her life, and how much she wishes it were normal.  She complains to her maid servant about how she hates her long nightgown, which covers her feet, and that she wishes she could wear pajamas, or even nothing at all, as some commoners are known to do.  Ann also dislikes her nightly bedtime meal of milk and crackers.  When Ann grows hysterical about the challenges of being a princess and royal life and not having the freedoms that are afforded to most commoners, her maid servant calls her doctor who gives her a sleeping pill to calm her down.

The pill does not, however, go into immediate effect,and Ann sneaks out of the palace where she is staying, for a chance at some freedom, if only for a temporary period of time.

Ann hides into truck that is carrying wine.  She exits the truck after leaving the palace grounds and is happy about her newfound freedom.  However, the sleeping pill goes into effect.  A newspaper reporter, Joe Bradley, finds her in an intoxicated daze as caused by the sleeping pill, and he takes her home so that she can have a comfortable place to sleep for the night.

The next day, there is panic of sorts because Ann is discovered to be missing.  The palace claims that she is ill, and they cancel a press conference that she was due to give.

Eventually, Joe realizes who Ann is.  He decides to use this development as an opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Ann.

When she wakes up, she is confused.  He explains what happened the previous night, and she says that her name is Anya.  After she bathes and gets dressed, Ann leaves Joe’s apartment.

Ann explores the city, with great joy; feeling the need to reinvent herself, she gets her haircut in a short style, and and she runs into Joe on the Spanish Steps.  The two spend a lot of time together throughout the day all over Rome, and they fall in love.

Eventually, the police officers sent by the place to locate Ann find them at a party.  One police officer tries to take Ann by force.  Joe gets involved and this leads a large fight breaking out.  Ann and Joe manage to escape.

Shortly afterwards, Ann tearfully says goodbye to Joe because she has to return to her life as a princess.

She returns to the palace, stating that she knows what her duties are, and that is why she returned.  Ann also asserts herself to her servants, something that she had never done before.

Joe decides not to do the story that he planned to write about Ann.

The next day, the palace holds the press conference which was cancelled due to her absence, the previous day.  Joe is in attendance.  They interact as princess and news reporter, and it is very clear to the audience that their time together has changed them forever and for the better and that they would never forget each other.



The protagonists of the film are Ann and Joe.  Ann is the protagonist, first and foremost, because she is one of the film’s main characters.  The film focuses on her desire to live the life she wants rather than the life she wants to live.  Joe is a secondary protagonist (deuteragonist) because he is the second most important character in the film.



An interesting part of the film is the fact the antagonist is not the type to be actively evil, necessarily.  The palace and its servants are Ann’s antagonists.  She does not see eye to eye with them.  She wants to have more freedom.  When Ann runs away from the palace, and they find out, they set out to find her.  Eventually, the police find her, and they try to take her by force.  While, this attempt is thwarted, Ann does go back to the police because she recognizes her duties as a princess.  She only left in the first place because she wanted to get away from all of her royal responsibilities and obligations for just a moment in time.



The theme of the film is about how people can become very dissatisfied about their lives, and how sometimes, they simply need to take a break from everything just to feel alive again and to put things into perspective.  Ann gets a chance to be normal for a day.  But she realizes that she has to go back to her own life, and nonetheless, she appreciates that.

The film’s secondary theme is in how people can see other people as a pawn to be used only for one’s own purposes, only to change their mind as they get to know the person.  Joe, when he finds out who Ann is, decides to get an exclusive interview with her.  However, the day they spend together causes him to develop a true level of respect for her, and therefore, he decides not to write the story, because he understands what her struggles are; it would completely wrong to exploit her.


The Film’s Turning points (All Seven Turning Points)

I will now talk about the seven turning points in Roman Holiday.


The Back Story

Princess Ann is the prince of a European country, whose name is never mentioned in the film, let alone mentioned.  She has been to other European capital cities as part of a goodwill tour, and now Ann in is Rome.  She feels trapped by the demands of being royal, and she longs for freedom that is afforded to most commoners.


The Catalyst

At night, Ann complains to her servants about her plight.  When she grows belligerent, they call her doctor who gives her a sleeping pill to calm down.  Ann calms down to a point, and when her servants and doctor leave her room, she sneaks out of the palace.


The Big Event

Ann, in a drugged stupor, falls asleep outside.  She is found by Joe Bradley, and he takes her to his apartment so that she can have a comfortable place to sleep for the night.  The next day, he finds out who she is when it is announced that Princess Ann is ill, and cannot give a press conference.  He decides to get an exclusive interview from Ann.


The Midpoint

After Ann, wakes up, she thanks Joe for his kindness, and she leaves to explore the city of Rome by herself, enjoying herself in the process.  She runs into Joe, and they spend lots of time together, falling in love as well.


The Crisis

The palace has gotten the police involved to locate Ann and bring her back to the party.  


The Climax

At a riverside party, the police find Ann, and they try to take her by force.  Joe and his photographer, Irving, intervene, and this ensues in a huge fight breaking out, and Ann, Joe, and Irving escaping.

The Realization

Ann realizes that she has to return to her old life.  She bids a heartfelt farewell to Joe.  She asserts herself to her servants when she returns, recognizing her duties as a princess.  At the press conference, the next day, Ann meets Joe, who ask her a few questions, and it is clear that they have both changed as a result of their time together.



In this section, I will depict the four elements of the film’s setting.



The film is set almost entirely in Rome, Italy.  Several Roman landmarks are featured in the film including the Spanish Steps and the Mouth of Truth.  This shows how the city of Rome is very much a character in the film, given how many of the famous landmarks of Rome are prominently featured throughout the entire duration of the film.  If set in any of the other cities that Ann visited such as Amsterdam, London,or Paris, things would have been very different.


Time Period

The film is set during the early 1950s.  The time periods is not a huge part of the film.  But it does depict some of the values of the time such as how women often have little to no agency.


The Genre of the Film

The film is a romantic comedy with some dramatic elements.  The main plot of the film focuses on the relationship between Ann and Joe who eventually fall in love with each other.  There are also numerous comedic scenes such as when Ann is very groggy from the sleeping pill, and acts extremely awkwardly and clumsy.  There is also the scene where Ann and Joe are at the Mouth of Truth.  Joe puts his hand in the mouth, and he acts like it was bitten off.  Ann is extremely horrified, and Joe reveals that he was simply playing around with her.  There is also drama such when Joe and Ann part ways because Ann has to return to her royal life.  The final scene, depicting the press conference lacks any sort of comedy.  It is a calm and serious moment.


My Own Views of the Film

This film just okay in my humble opinion.  The story is rather simple.  It is all about how the royal life is not all fun and games, but a job that has great demands and very little freedom.  I did find Ann sympathetic to a point because I can understand being bored with one’s life and wanting to shake things up, even if only for short period of time (I feel that way every single day).  However, there is this part of me that despite the fact that Ann lacks certain privileges that commoners have, she still has privileges that most commoners do not have.

I don’t find the majority of the supporting characters interesting other than Joe.  They seemed kind of superflous which is odd because they logically do have something to add to the story.  They did not have the most memorable personalities, and if I were writing this film, I would like to think

However, I suppose that the rest of the film was okay.  Inoffensive and light, but not one of my favorites.  It had some funny moments, and Ann and Joe’s separation was heartfelt.  But this film seemed rather bland a lot of the time.  I personally preferred some other films that Hepburn appeared in such as Sabrina, The Children’s Hour and My Fair Lady (what little I have seen of it).