This course is akin to an introductory college course in film studies, though not as rigorous. The course is very heavy on literary theory and takes a lot of abstract, philosophical, analytical thinking. The readings are philosophical and academic. Students must be able to apply, in writing, a wide range of theoretical ideas to the films we are watching. The vast majority of films fall into one or more of the following categories: silent, foreign (with subtitles), black and white, art house/indie films. Students who love philosophy and the art of cinema should do well in this class. Students who struggle with abstract thought, don’t like black and white, foreign, or silent films might want to avoid this class. Our readings are all articles taken from online sources.
Important topics and themes explored throughout the semester: the history of artistic, literary, and philosophical movements in film. We go deeply into semiotics (the study of signs and symbols), literary theory and criticism, a variety of genres, styles and movements (German Expressionism, Italian Neo-Realism, French New Wave, Film Noir, etc.), aesthetics, and narrative structures.
Unlike other literature courses where students can read at their own pace when and where they want to, films are shown once in class. This can pose an issue for students who miss class. Students are responsible to find the films and watch them on their own when they miss class.
This course may use a couple of R-rated films. These films were chosen for their artistic value, philosophical statements, and importance in film history. Permission slips will be needed to attend those viewings. Students who do not have a signed permission slip will be assigned an alternate assignment.
Period 1 id:, enrollment key: Kinberg1
Period 2 id: , enrollment key: Kinberg2
Period 3 id: , enrollment key: Kinberg3
Click here for Crash Course Home Page: Crash Course Film Studies Page
Jan 10: Introduction
Make a list of your 10 FAVORITE movies.
Make a list of the 10 BEST movies you have ever seen.
What are the 10 WORST movies you have ever seen?
Submit to Turnitin.com
Read Film School Rejects Film School Rejects , the OGs (pre 1910), Drama, Romance.
Watch the 5 short films from the OG section: The Arrival of a Train, The Cabbage Fairy, A Trip to the Moon, The Big Swallow, and The Great Train Robbery.
Answer: Explain the rapid advance of technology and its use in storytelling in the very early years of filmmaking (300-500 words). Submit to Turnitin.com
In class: Watch Visions of Light. Take notes on the handout. Due at the end of the period.
Answer: Discuss the impact Buster Keaton had on directors of comedy that came after him. Due to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
Warm-Up #2: What kind of movies do you enjoy the most? Why? Give examples.
Watch Sherlock Jr.
Respond: Think about the original film techniques, stunts, plot, and character development. What did you think of the film? What stood out to you? Discuss the film as a comedic piece of art. 300-500 words Submit to Turnitin.com
Answer: What is the purpose of each of the schools of literary theory? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8 a.m.
Begin Safety Last
Jan 24/25: Read Film Theory Explained . Watch at least 2 of the videos linked to this site.
Summarize the two videos. Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
In class: Finish Safety Last. What did you think of the film? Discuss Safety Last from the perspective of two different film theories.
In class: Watch The Kid
Finish The Kid.
Respond: What did you think of The Kid? Discuss the film from both a structuralist and a Marxist perspective. Submit to Turnitin.com.
Warm-Up #3: What do the clothes you are wearing, your hair style, and accessories (phone, backpack, jewelery, make-up, earbuds, etc.) say to the world about you?
Feb 1/2: In class: In class essay comparing and contrasting Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton.
Your essay should compare and contrast the film-making techniques (Formalist/Structuralist) employed by each filmmaker. Discuss the social-cultural statements in each film (Feminist, Marxist, New Historicism). Which film did you enjoy most? Why?
Feb. 3/6: Watch Crash Course Episodes 7 CC #7: German Expressionism and 8 CC #8: Soviet Montage. Think of some of your favorite scary movies or TV shows. How are some of the elements of German Expressionism employed to create the style of them? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
Warm-Up #4: Watch Progression of Disney Gender Roles and Girl Power: Disney's Post-Feminist Princesses. Moana: Reclaiming Pocahontas and Mulan Respond to the videos with your own thoughts regarding Disney's portrayals of gender roles.
Feb 7/8: Read through the following slide show Feminist Film Theory.
Answer: What did you think of the film? What stood out to you? Explain the influence of German Expressionism on the style of the film.
Feb 9/10: Literary Criticism Paper Due. What is the school of literary criticism that most appeals to you? Why? (5 paragraphs, 500-600 words). Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
Feb 13/14: Read Individuality is an Illusion. Watch the video "The Tree Illusion"
Answer: What are your thoughts on the article? Give specific reasons to support your opinion. 300-500 words. Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
Warm-Up #5: What's your favorite "Super-Hero" movie? Why? Submit to Turnitin.com
Feb 15/16: Silent Film Essay.
The following essay will have multiple sections. Read the writing prompt for each section carefully and answer each prompt completely. Each section will require multiple paragraphs.
Part 1: After viewing The Kid, Safety Last, Sherlock Jr., Sunrise, and Metropolis, describe your viewing experience with silent film. What challenged you? What surprised you? Which of these films did you like the best? Why?
Part 2: Analyze Sunrise employing at least 2 different schools of literary criticism.
Part 3: Analyze Metropolis employing at least 2 different schools of literary criticism (at least one theory must be different from the ones used to analyze Sunrise).
Part 4: What are your takeaways from this unit on silent film and literary theory?
Unit 2: Film Genre
Feb. 21: (0-6 day)
Warm-Up #5: What was the first movie that really shook you, made you think, made you feel, or deeply impacted the way you see the world or yourself in a new way?
Feb 22/23: Begin Across the Universe
Star-Lord dance Guardians of the Galaxy Extension
Baby Driver, opening chase Extension
Baby Driver, opening credits Extension
Singing in the Rain Primitive
Singing in the Rain/ Babylon Revisionist
Shanghai Knights Market Fight Scene Extension
Simpsons Singing in the Rain Parodic
Answer: How do critics feel about the artistic reimagining of classic Beatles songs in Across the Universe? What does this say about the very nature of art? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
Feb. 28/March 1:
In class: Finish Across the Universe
Review Across The Universe. What did you think? What stood out to you? Discuss the artistic value: the direction, the cinematography, the music, and the choreography. Discuss at least 2 forms of literary criticism. Submit to Turnitin.com
What are the themes, styles, and tropes that define Film Noir? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
In class, begin
In class: Finish Strangers on a Train
What did you think? What stood out to you? Discuss the artistic style: the direction, the lighting, and camera usage. What makes it film noir? Discuss the film from a psychological perspective. Why is Bruno more interesting than Guy? Submit to Turnitin.com
Answer: What are the tropes and iconography of The Western? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
Listen to, and take notes on, Podcast:Westerns: American Mythology or Cultural History?
Answer: How could you use the views expressed in the podcast to do Feminist, Marxist, Post-Colonial, and New Historical reads of westerns? Be sure to discuss each of the guests' viewpoints. Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00a.m.
In class, Finish The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Begin Film Genre Essay:
Examine the various film genres we studied and explain the archetypes (codes), styles, and themes explored through them. Then, explain how and why the western has been employed as the body of American mythology. Finally, explain how The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly explores various issues questioning the validity of this mythology. What is the film saying about morality (“the cowboy ethic”), violence (individual and institutional), and the entire western genre?
Suggested Outline (not mandatory)
- Description of what constitutes genre (and levels)
- Musical/Across the Universe
- Film Noir/Strangers on a Train
- The Western as mythology, iconography/tropes
- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly questioning mythology
- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and morality
March 16/17: Finish Film Genre Essay
Unit 3: World Cinema and Artistic Perspectives
Explain briefly the reasons given in the article for watching world cinema. What is your experience with "foreign" films? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
What are your thoughts on Bicycle Thieves? What made it such an emotional film? How was it different in setting and character development from other films you have seen? Did you like it? Explain. 4 paragraphs. 750-1000 words. Submit to Turnitin.com
I. Your thoughts and reactions
II. What made it so emotional?
III. How is it different?
IV. Did you like it? Explain.
March 24/27: Bicycle Thieves Essay due by 8:00 a.m.
Answer: Based on the 3 articles, what makes The 7th Seal a great film? What do the critics say about the direction, acting, and the allegory? Submit to Turnitin.com
Watch The Seventh Seal
In class: Finish The Seventh Seal.
Answer: What did you think of the film? What stood out to you stylistically? Discuss The 7th Seal as an allegory of life and death. What does the film have to say about human nature and how we cope with death? Submit to Turnitin.com
In class: Watch Porco Rosso.
What did you think? Analyze Porco Rosso any way you see fit. What insights do you have about this film?
Week 13 SPRING BREAK
Extra Credit over Spring Break: Watch any or all of the following three films and analyze them. Be sure to discuss the film utilizing at least one school of film criticism. 800-1000 words per analysis. Up to 25 points extra credit per essay. Submit to Turnitin.com by Monday, April10, by 8:00 a.m.
BE SURE TO START EACH FILM AT ITS BEGINNING (for some reason, they tend to start up about 15 minutes into the film)
Miracle in Milan (Italian, be sure to turn on the subtitles)
In class: Persepolis
Analyze Persepolis any way you see fit. Submit to Turnitin.com
What were the groundbreaking elements of the French New Wave and what were the philosophies behind it? Submit to Turnitin.com by 8:00 a.m.
In class: The 400 Blows
In class: Finish The 400 Blows
Respond to The 400 Blows. What did you think of the film? What film techniques were employed that could be considered "New Wave."
In class: Begin Hero
April 20/21: Read WHAT IS AESTHETICS IN FILM?
In class: Finish Hero
Respond to Hero. What did you think? What stood out to you? Discuss the film from an aesthetics perspective. How is the aesthetic style artistically different from the films we have seen so far?
In class: Begin Cinema Paradiso
Finish Cinema Paradiso
What did you think of the film? What stood out to you? Discuss the style (aesthetics) and how mood and tone are achieved ( appeal to sensibilities). Submit to Turnitin.com
April 28/May 1:
In class: Howl's Moving Castle Begin Amelie (Taare Zameen Par (Every Child is Special) alternative assignment)
May 2/3: Finish Howl's Moving Castle
What did you think of the film? What stood out to you? What are the film's sensibilities and perspective of those sensibilities?
Watch: The Amélie Aesthetic, Amélie - Symmetry & Camera Movement, The Editing In Amélie, AMELIE: Production Design, Why many filmmakers steal from Amélie Happiness as a Theme in Amelie, and Amélie Movie Analysis
See below for the writing prompt.
Write a response to Amelie. 3 paragraphs. 1) Write a personal response to the film. 2) Respond to the article and explain how the film aesthetically relates to the French New Wave. 3) Choose 1 theme from the film and discuss the film's thematic message, highlighting sensibilities. Submit to Turnitin.com
In class essay
In this unit concerning World Cinema, we have seen seminal films from a wide variety of cultures and artistic film movements. We viewed The Bicycle Thieves, The Seventh Seal, Porco Rosso, Persepolis, The 400 Blows, Hero, Cinema Paradiso, and Howl's Moving Castle. All of these films are artistically and thematically very different from typical Hollywood studio films. Discuss the various story telling devices (structure, character development, plot), artistic approaches, aesthetics, and themes that seem original, unique, and/or surprising to you. Discuss the aspects of each film that seem unique to that particular artistic movement. How has your understanding of world cinema changed over the course of this unit?
Begin Sunset Boulevard
In class: Finish Sunset Boulevard
Answer: What did you think of the film? Based on the videos and the two articles, discuss the statement Sunset Blvd makes about the art of filmmaking? Submit to Turnitin.com
Answer: Based on the three articles, explain how Martin Scorsese uses classic film techniques in a wholly modern and unique way. (300 words). Due to Turnitin .com by 8:00 a.m.
In class: Hugo - A Love Letter to Cinema
What has been your favorite film this semester? Why? What has been your least favorite film? Why? Which film surprised you the most? Why? Submit to Turnitin.com
Final Exam Writing Prompt.
Cinematic Texts Final Essay
Using the films Sunset Blvd., Hugo and two other films we viewed this semester, discuss many of the concepts we have studied concerning literary theory, genre, character development, artistic statement, and director style. In other words, use these films to demonstrate how film can be studied as an important literary art form. In your last 2 paragraphs, discuss what Sunset Blvd. and Hugo are saying about the world of cinema (the art, technology, and business).
Sunrise, A Song of Two Humans
Strangers On a Train
Across the Universe
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The 7th Seal
Tues. NApril 21: Read: Hero: Narrative Analysis
Thurs. Nov. 14: Read: Hero (Film Quarterly)
Mon. Nov. 18: Read Run, Lola, Run Analysis and Activities Due: Choose 3 of the tasks to complete (1 paragraph per task).
Weds. Nov. 20:
Fri. Nov. 22: World Cinema In-Class Essay
WEEK 17: THANKSGIVING
Tues. Dec. 3:
Thurs. Dec. 5: Read: Reasons Hitchcock is Great and THE PHENOMENAL INFLUENCE AND LEGACY OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK
Fri. Dec. 13: Read: Where to start with the films of Billy Wilder and
Jules and Jim
Run, Lola, Run
Howl's Moving Castle
Across the Universe
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Singing in the Rain
2001 Space Odyssey
Catch Me if You Can
Discuss 2 of the following aspects from the film Hugo: 1) How characters are developed through dialogue. 2) How creative direction creates suspense. 3) How cinematography creates/sets both mood and tone. 4) How editing is employed in non-linear story telling.
Hugo assignment due by 8 a.m. on Friday, May 20, to Turnitin.com.
Describe a scene that pokes fun at Hollywood films. Consider the three films we viewed (Bicycle Thieves, The 7th Seal, and Breathless). Discuss how Italian Neo-Realism, Swedish Art-House, and French New Wave schools of filmmaking were all products of post-war Europe AND reactions against established styles of filmmaking. Which film did you like the most? Why? Which film did you like the least? Why?
Write a response to Cinema Paradiso. 4 paragraphs. 1) Write a personal response to the film. 2) Respond to the articles as they relate to the universality of the communal film viewing experience. 3) Discuss the film's aesthetics (style). 4) Choose 1 theme from the film and discuss the film's thematic message highlighting sensibilities. Submit to Turnitin.com by 8 a.m., April 26/27.