The Film Experience

Almost every one likes some kinds of movies. The Film Experience should help you understand the why and the how of your responses. The class offers a rigorous approach to film studies, concentrating on close analysis and criticism.  Students will learn basic technical vocabulary for analyzing cinematic narrative, camera work, editing, and sound. Using this vocabulary, they will develop critical methods for turning close analysis into interpretations and comparative readings of films. Along the way, various theoretical approaches to cinema studies will be introduced. The key goal is to move from an appreciation for the surface pleasures of cinema into a deeper understanding of how films construct meanings, both explicit and implicit.

We will study a wide range of works, culled from different national traditions and genres. The latter will include romantic comedy, the musical, the western, the thriller, and/or film noir. Directors will include several, though not all, of the following leading figures: Coppola, De Sica, Eisenstein, Fahrhadi, Fellini, Ford, Godard, Hawks, Hitchcock, Huston, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Lang, Malick, Minnelli, Polanski, Preminger, Sturges, Tarantino, Truffaut, Varda, Welles, Woo, and/or Zhang. Readings will be drawn from the works of a wide range of film theorists and historians, as well as portions of the latest edition of Film Art, a textbook by Bordwell and Thompson.

Format: one 90-minute lecture, one evening screening, and one discussion hour per week.