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How to Cite a Movie


There are three things to keep in mind when you cite a movie for a writing assignment. First, be consistent. Cite your sources in the same format throughout your writing. Second, cite the movie in MLA style with the help of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA is one of the most popular style guides for the liberal arts and humanities. Lastly, use a citation that describes how you viewed the movie: in the theater, on DVD, on TV or over the Internet.

Cite a movie you have seen in a theater with the title (underlined) the director, distributor and year of release:

Like Water for Chocolate. Dir. Alfonso Arau. Miramax, 1993.

Reference the work of an individual in a movie by listing his name first. Start the citation with the name of the performer or director whose work you are discussing in the research.

Stewart, James, perf. It's a Wonderful Life. Dir. Frank Capra. RKO, 1946.

Follow the same format for a DVD or video, only add the original year of release and specify the medium, VHS or DVD:

Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perf. Boris Karloff. 1931. DVD. Universal Pictures, 2006.

Follow the same format for a DVD or video, only add the original year of release and specify the medium, VHS or DVD:

Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perf. Boris Karloff. 1931. DVD. Universal Pictures, 2006.

Document Internet film clips by the name of the website and date of access. Cite clip information in this order: name of director, title, release year, name of website, the date you visited the site and the web address:

Murnau, F.W., dir. Nosferatu. 1922. The Sync. 10 Oct 2008. <web address>.

Write the network, affiliate station and original date of broadcast when you cite a made-for-TV movie. Include the name of the series (underlined) after the title, if applicable, and the network and affiliate:

Northanger Abbey. Masterpiece Theatre. Dir. John Jones. PBS. WGBH, Boston. 20 Jan. 2008.

Provide a parenthetical citation in the text of your paper. Include the title (underlined), the director or the performer in the first sentence in which you mention the movie. Or place this information in parentheses at the end of the sentence. For example: "Critics argue the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan is one of the most realistic battle scenes ever filmed (Spielberg)."

Tips
  • Check the movie entries you cite against the MLA Handbook.
  • Go to a website like CitationMachine that will create a citation for you. Just fill in the forms and press "Submit," then cut and paste the citation into your "Works cited" draft.
Warning
  • Do not capitalize the abbreviation for director, dir., at the start of a citation. Capitalize the abbreviation when it appears after the title of the film
Items you will need
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
About the Author

Renee Vians has been writing online since 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism and language arts certification from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her articles have appeared on various websites.

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