Citing Films

In general discussion, a film can be cited like a classic piece of art or a poem, that is, by artist and name. In this case, the artist is the director of the film. For example,

Ironically, The Aviator could be Martin Scorsese’s ultimate exemplar for understanding how Jesus is “nothing less than one of us.” (example is from Staley 2016)

Note that film titles are in italics, as are the names of television and radio shows; a single episode of a television show, however, is enclosed in quotation marks (CMS §8.185). There is generally no need to include a citation for the film in the bibliography.

If films are an important element of one’s argument, one may decide that it is appropriate to include a bibliographic reference for each film discussed. Such citations can be included in the main bibliography or, better, in a separate list of films. In such cases, one should include the director, movie title, production house, and date of initial release.

Scorcese, Martin, dir. The Aviator. Forward Pass, 2004.

If a film is produced by more than one company, as is often the case, it is often sufficient to cite the primary production house for the film. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is a helpful website for finding the relevant bibliographic information for most films.

If a specific DVD version is relevant, include the format before the distributor’s name (which may be different from the original production company):

Scorcese, Martin, dir. The Aviator. DVD. Burbank, CA: Warner, 2005.

Associated commentaries should include the individuals interviewed, the title of the commentary, the disc number, and the DVD version (CMS §14.279).

Scorsese, Martin, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Michael Mann. “Feature Commentary.” Disc 2. The Aviator. DVD. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Burbank, CA: Warner, 2005.

Reviews of movies are much like book reviews (CMS §14.216; for book reviews see SBLHS 2 §6.3.4, CMS §§14.214–215). Untitled reviews can be cited:

Ebert, Roger. Review of The Aviator. RogerEbert.com, 2004. http://tinyurl.com/n6onocs.

Titled movie reviews can be treated like any other journal or website publication.

Dargis, Manohla. “Savoring a Legend before It Curdled.” The New York Times, 2004. http://tinyurl.com/j82pukj.

For more information on citing multimedia works, see CMS §§14.278–280, 15.53.

Works Cited

Staley, Jeffrey L. 2016. “Martin Scorsese’s Aviator as Theological Complement to His Last Temptation of Christ.” Pages 233–49 in Close Encounters between Bible and Film: An Interdisciplinary Engagement. Edited by Laura Copier and Caroline Vander Stichele. SemeiaSt 87. Atlanta: SBL Press.

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