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How to Cite Movie Lines in MLA in an Essay


Movie lines can provide relevant punch to an essay. But if you quote a film, be sure to cite it just as conscientiously as you would cite a novel or poem. The first requirement is to quote the movie precisely; any words in quotation marks must be identical to the actual lines spoken in the movie. You also need to know the basic details about the movie in order to cite it in MLA style.

Movies in the “Works Cited” List

Movies are listed alphabetically in “Works Cited,” along with any other sources. Put the title first, alphabetizing by the first major word and italicizing the title. Next list, in order, director(s), main performer(s), distribution company, year of release and, finally, format. This is what such a listing should look like: The Last Unicorn. Dir. Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. Perf. Alan Arkin, Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges and Christopher Lee. ITC Films, 1982. DVD.

Movies and In-Text Citation

When a source is not listed by author in the “Works Cited,” you must cite it in the text by whatever element comes first instead. In the case of movies, that means the title, italicized. Because movies do not have page numbers, you only need the title, either in a single phrase or in parentheses following the quote. This example shows correct MLA parenthetical citation: The unicorn laments, “I can feel this body dying all around me” (The Last Unicorn).

About the Author

Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at "The Knoxville Journal." She has written for "MetroPulse," "Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times" and "Some" monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.

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