documentary review analysis

You are to choose a documentary (see page 2) and write a review and analysis of how effectively or ineffectively the piece uses rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos).


For the review, you are critiquing the documentary. What worked/ did not work? What do you have to say about the individuals in the piece, visuals, sounds, pacing, plot? Be honest in your review. In addition, choose one or two parts of the piece that is of interest to you to analyze a rhetorical appeal below. For example, if an image appears in many shots or a phrase is repeated often, reflect on why the documentary director chose to do that. Think about the why and how of the film choices. What is the message that is trying to reach the audience? How effective is the piece at making a connection with the audience?

  • ethos: The subjects in the film are perceived by the audience as credible (or not).
  • pathos: The filmmaker attempts to persuade the audience by making them feel certain emotions.
  • logos: The filmmaker attempts to persuade the audience by the use of arguments that they will perceive as logical.


Your audience will be your college peers who have not seen the documentary. For that reason, include a one-paragraph summary of the documentary after your introduction paragraph.

Things to remember

  1. Voice: You may write in first person point of view for this essay.
  2. Length: Your paper should be between two-four typed double-spaced pages.
  3. Format: Follow the MLA rules for page formatting (1-inch margins, double-space, header)
  4. Rough draft: Your rough draft should include at least your introduction and main points that you want to include in your essay. This should be about one and a half pages long.
  5. Editing: I will consider grammar and mechanics in the final draft of this essay, so make sure to proofread carefully.
  6. Extra help: Make an appointment to meet with me or a tutor for extra feedback on your writing
  7. Plagiarism: Students who plagiarize a phrase or an idea will receive a ZERO on this assignment! No exceptions. Cite your sources using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format. Your essay should include a Works Cited page at the end.
  8. Final draft: Turn in a revised draft into the designated dropbox in D2L by the due date.

Due dates:

Outline: Sept. 8 Rough Draft: Sept. 15 Revised Draft: Sept. 22


Newtown (2016)

He Named Me Malala (2015)

Cowspiracy (2014)

Teach Us All (2017)

Before the Flood (2016)

Growing Up Coy (2017)

Undefeated (2011)

Long Shot (2017)

13th (2016)

Strong Island (2017)

Audrie and Daisy (2016)

The Hunting Ground (2015)

*The above documentaries are available on Netflix. If you do not have access to a Netflix account, you can choose another online documentary from Frontline:

Poor Kids (2017)

Generation Like (2014)

The Gang Crackdown (2018)

Separated: Children at the Border (2018)

Sex Trafficking in America (2019)

Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (2019)

The Facebook Dilemma (2018)

Exodus: The Journey Continues (2018)

NAME: ___________________________







Ideas and Purpose

Well-developed introduction; clear thesis; thought-provoking; reasoned; insightful

Thoughtful introduction; adequate thesis; reasoned; interesting

Limited introduction; appropriate but inadequately developed thesis

Vague introduction; shallow; unsound; inaccurate; unclear thesis


Accurate summary; forceful; rich in detail; extensive review; convincing; specific references to rhetorical appeal

Thorough summary; persuasive review; clear; adequate references to rhetorical appeal

Appropriate summary; relevant; lacking in persuasiveness; mostly general references to rhetorical appeal

Inappropriate; vague; incomplete summary; little or no reference to rhetorical appeal


Logical flow of ideas; clear structure / paragraphs; effective use of transitions;

Strong coherence

Ideas move smoothly; good use of transitions, coherence is established

Adequate flow of ideas; ineffective use of transitions;

weak coherence

Paragraphs lack a sense of direction; ideas are difficult to follow; little or no use of transitions


No errors in sentence structure or mechanics (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc)

Mostly error free, but reader stumbles over 1-2 rough parts.

3-4 errors in sentence structure and/or mechanics that distracts readers from content

Mechanical errors which interfere with communication and/or meaning

MLA format (heading, spacing, font, margins, citations, etc.)

No errors

1 MLA error

2-3 MLA errors

3+ MLA errors

I chose POOR KIDS (2017), HERE’S THE LINK:

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