Film as Literature I   



    FILM AS LITERATURE CP (UC/CSU)) (h.s. general elective) (Semester Course – Elective)

     This is an exciting semester long course in which students will approach film similarly to the way novels are studied.

    Students will be viewing (not watching), discussing, and writing about films in a literary fashion. Class members will view

    clips from various films as well as view several films in their entirety. Students will be taught to "read" films with an eye

    toward symbolism, themes, social and historical context, bias, points of view, plot development, and character development.


    Because there is NO HOMEWORK for this course, class attendance and participation is crucial. 



    None Grades 10-12

    This course qualifies as a University of California "g" elective


    Turnitin.com class id: ; enrollment key: 


    Week 1

    Jan 7: Course introduction. 

    In class: What are your five favorite movies?  What are the 5 best movies you have ever seen?  What are the five worst movies you have ever seen? Submit to Turnitin.com.


    Week 2

    Jan 12: 

    In class:  Watch The Shared Wonder of Film

    Answer:  What is the best movie going experience you have ever had?  Relate it to the TED talk.  Submit to Turnitin.com.

    Opening to Dances With Wolves and Opening continued

    Jan 14:  

    Week 3

    Jan. 20: 

    In class:  Due to possible power outages, today will be a reading day. Follow directions below:

    Check into class (if possible -- yesterday, I lost all power at 10:20).

    Finish watching Field of Dreams.

    Answer:  What were the life issues facing each of the following characters and what were their resolutions?  Submit to Turnitin.com

    Ray Kinsella

    Terrance Mann

    Joe Jackson

    Moonlight/Doc/Archie Graham


    Week 4

    Jan. 25: Begin Forrest Gump.

    Jan 27: Finish Forrest Gump.

    Week 5 

    Feb 5: Begin Pleasantille

    Feb 7: Finish Pleasantville

    What did you think of the film?  What stood out to you?

    What is the ending all about?

    What is the socio-political message of the film?

    Submit to turnitin.com


    Week 6

    Feb. 8: Review for in class essay

    Feb. 10: In class essay.  Submit to Turnitin.com when finished.

    Compare and contrast the films we watched and explain what each film says about Traditional American Values.  How does each film portray Traditional American Values, how and why do various characters rebel or reject TAVs, and how and why is there some sort of reconciliation?  What is the socio-political message of each film?  Which film’s message do you disagree with most?  Why? Which film’s message do you agree with most?  Why?

    Week 7

    Feb. 16: Begin the documentary on the history of cinematography, Visions of Light

    Take notes for the following topic:

    How did technological advances in filmmaking spur various artistic styles and movements?  Who were the major innovators and what were their impacts?

    Feb. 18: Finish Visions of Light.  

    Buster Keaton - The Art of the Gag

    Sherlock Jr. -- Buster Keaton

    Week 8

    Feb. 23:  Modern Times -- Charlie Chaplin

    Feb. 25: Finish Modern Times. Watch Chaplin Today -- Modern Times

    Week 9

    March 2: Begin  A Night at the Opera -- SWANK 

    March 4: Finish A Night at the Opera   Watch The Making of A Night At The Opera

    Relate various scenes from A Night at the Opera with the myth of Prometheus.  Submit to Turnitin.com

    Week 10

    March 9: Begin East Side Sushi

    March 11: Finish East Side Sushi

    Week 11

    March 16: How Green was My Valley

    March 18: In-class Social Class Unit Essay

    Compare and contrast the films we watched and explain what each film says about the struggle between the social classes.  How does each film portray the conflicts involving the social classes? How and why do various characters respond to the oppression of the lower classes?  What is the socio-political message of each film?  In other words, where do the filmmakers place the blame for these conflicts?  What are the issues?  What are the solutions suggested by each film?  Which film’s message do you disagree with most?  Why? Which film’s message do you agree with most?  Why?

    Week 12

    March 23: In class watch Why you should define your fears instead of your goals and The hidden power of not (always) fitting in..  What are your goals in life and what are the internal and external conflicts you need to overcome?  Explain.  

    Three paragraphs

    I.  Goals

    II.  External Conflicts/Barriers

    III.  Internal Conflicts/Barriers


    March 25: Begin On The Waterfront


    Week 13

    March 30: Finish On The Waterfront

    April 1: Begin Rocky


    Week 14 Spring Break


    Week 15

    April 13:  Finish Rocky

    April 15:  Begin The Truman Show

    Week 16

    April 20: Finish The Truman Show

    April 22: Begin The Apartment Watch up to 1:06 by next class.

    Week 17

    April 27: Finish The Apartment

    April 29: Begin WALL-E

    Week 18:

    May 4: Finish WALL-E

    May 6:  In class essay:

    Triumph of the Common Person

    Which film’s message did you agree with most?  Why?  Which film’s message did you disagree with most?  Why?  With which of the following characters do you most closely identify:  Terry, Rocky, Adrian, Truman, Baxter, Fran, Wall-E, EVE, or the captain?  Why?  What are your most important life aspirations?  What internal AND external conflicts do you need to overcome in order to achieve your own personal triumphs?

    Week 19

    May 11:  Introduce Citizen Kane

    In class: Watch

    Reflections on Citizen Kane, A 50th Anniversary Special

    May 13: Citizen Kane

    May 15: Finish Citizen Kane


    1941: Citizen Kane: What Makes A Masterpiece?

    The Making of Citizen Kane

    Why filmmakers steal from Citizen Kane

    Welles vs. Hearst: The Story Behind Citizen Kane,  

    Citizen Kane: Crash Course Film Criticism #1 (10:39), 

    1941: Citizen Kane: What Makes A Masterpiece?


    May 17:  Final Exam (due by the end of the period).


    Explain in detail why Citizen Kane is widely considered the greatest American film of all time?  How does Citizen Kane stylistically and thematically relate to our other films and film units?  Overall, which film did you like best this semester?  Why?  Which film did you like least?  Why?  What was the best film you saw this semester?  Why?


    Week 21

    May 25:  Study Hall

    May 27:  Study Hall


    Each unit will be evaluated with an in-class essay (100 points each) and a journal check (50 points each unit check).

    The semester is broken up into the following units:

    Introduction to Film as Literature  

    Clips from Lawrence of Arabia, Dances With Wolves, Much Ado About Nothing

    Unit 1:  Traditional American Values

    Field of Dreams, Forrest Gump, Pleasantville

    Unit 2: Struggle of the Lower Classes

    Visions of Light (documentary on cinematography), The Kid, Modern Times, A Night at the Opera, The Grapes of Wrath

    Unit 3: Triumph of the Common Man 

    On the Waterfront, Rocky, Casablanca, The Truman Show, The Apartment

    Unit 4: Teen Issues

    Rebel Without a Cause, American Graffiti, The Breakfast Club

    Unit 5: What constitutes Greatness?

    Citizen Kane




    http://www.filmsite.org/filmh.html A guide to the history of film by decades.

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=greatmovies_fulllist Roger Ebert"s list of great movies.

    http://us.imdb.com/ The internet movie database.  A great research tool.

    http://www.filmsite.org/  A guide to how to watch films with a critical eye.

    http://www.filmsite.org/  A site devoted to several "Great Movies" lists and analysis.

    http://www.tau.ac.il/~haim/links.htm A site providing links to film theory sites.  This will be very helpful with your essays.

    http://afronord.tripod.com/theory.html A very good explanation of semiotics in cinema. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_theory Wikipedia"s link to various film theories.  A very useful site for an introduction and explanation of film theories.

    http://www.greencine.com/static/primers/index.jsp A great site with essays on all the major genres and artistic movements we will be studying.

    http://www.allmovie.com/ Incredible site to research any film, actor director, producer, etc.

    Also see the links listed under Film as Literature I.

    In case you miss class, you may watch these films online.
    Citizen Kane
    Dead Poets Society
    Forrest Gump 
    The Truman Show
    The Color Purple
    American Grafitti
    2001 Space Odyssey