Fall 2012
Monday and Wednesday, 9:35 am - 11:35 am
State 326

Web address for this page:
On Blackboard, log in to: "Introduction to Film Fall 2012 (English 2450/Communications 2010, section 7)(COMBINED)."

Steven Shaviro ( or )

5057 Woodward, Room 9309
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday 12 noon - 1 pm, and by appointment

This class offers an introduction to the study of film. First, we will look at the film experience as a whole. Then, we will take a detailed look at the major formal elements of film (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound). Finally, we will put these elements back together again, in order to consider how film narrative works as a whole, and to look at the major types of films (genres).

I have not ordered a textbook for this class, because all the available textbooks are excessively expensive. Instead, the lectures will be supplemented by three Concept Guides, giving definitions of key terms in Mise-en-scene, Cinematography, and Editing. These Concept guides will be made available on Blackboard.

Lecture slides for each lecture will be available on Blackboard as well. The final exam will test your knowledge of the concepts and arguments developed during the class lectures, as well as of the films screened and discussed in the course of the semester.

Some classes will be devoted to the screening of full-length feature films. Other classes will consist of lecture and discussion. Each lecture will be accompanied by a slide presentation and some short film clips. The aim of each lecture/discussion will be twofold: to analyze the films that we have seen, and to discuss more general concepts important for the critical understanding of film.

Most of the films we will watch are old ones, made in the years between 1924 and 1982. Though the class does not survey the history of film in any detail, one of its aims is to introduce you to older films that you may not have seen before, including silent films. black-and-white films, and films in foreign languages (shown with English subtitles). One of the aims of the course is to make you more aware of the variety of film art over the past century. For each film, the online syllabus includes a link to a page listing the director and main actors, and giving some study suggestions and questions for the film.

Class requirements include regular attendance and participation in class discussion, five short assigned papers (2-3 pages each), and a final exam. Attendance and participation will count for 10% of your grade. Each assigned paper will count for 15% of your grade. The final examination will count for the remaining 15% of your grade. Points may be deducted for excessive non-attendance.

August 29
Screening: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954)

September 5
Lecture: The film experience
Discussion of Rear Window

September 10
Screening: Josef von Sternberg, The Scarlet Empress (1934)

September 12
Screening: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner(1982)

September 17 Lecture: Mise-en-scene (1)
Discussion of The Scarlet Empress

September 19
Lecture: Mise-en-scene (2)
Discussion of Blade Runner

September 24
Screening: Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion (1937)

September 26
Lecture: Cinematography (1)
Discussion of Grand Illusion

October 1
Screening: Buster Keaton, Sherlock Junior (1924)
Lecture and discussion: Sherlock Junior and silent film

October 3: NO CLASS

October 8
Screening: Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (1958)

October 10
Lecture: Cinematography (2)
Discussion of Touch of Evil

October 15
Screening: Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1925)

October 17
Lecture: Editing (1)
Discussion of Battleship Potemkin

October 22
Screening: John Ford, Stagecoach (1939)

October 24
Lecture: Editing (2): The Continuity System
Discussion of Stagecoach

October 29
Screening: Tony Scott, Domino (2005)

October 31
Lecture: Editing (3): Other Editing Styles
Discussion of Domino

November 5
Screening: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain (1952)

November 7
Lecture: Film Sound (1)
Discussion of Singin' in the Rain

November 12
Screening: Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation (1967)

November 14
Lecture: Film Sound (2)
Discussion of The Conversation

November 19: NO CLASS

November 26
Screening: Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity (1944)

November 28
Lecture: Film Genres: Film Noir
Discussion of Double Indemnity

December 3
Screening: Michael Mann, Collateral (2004)

December 5
Screening: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive (2011)

December 10
Lecture: Film Genres Today Discussion of Collateral and Drive


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