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-scène, 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 are available online:
Lecture slides for each lecture will be available online 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.
In each class, a full-length feature film will be screened during the first half of the class period. This will be followed by lecture and discussion. Each lecture will be accompanied by a slide presentation and some short film clips. The aim will be both to analyze the film that we have just 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, as well as to 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, four short assigned
papers (2-3 pages each), and a final exam. Each assigned paper will count for 20% of your grade; the final examination will count for the remaining 20% of your grade.
Points may be deducted for excessive non-attendance.
January 13: Introduction
Buster Keaton, Sherlock Junior (1924)
January 20: The Experience of Film
Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954)
January 27: Mise-en-scène (1)
Josef von Sternberg, The Scarlet Empress (1934)
February 3: Mise-en-scène (2)
Ridley Scott, Blade Runner(1982)
February 10: Cinematography (1)
Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion (1937)
FIRST PAPER DUE (MISE-EN-SCÈNE)
[February 17: NO CLASS]
February 24: Cinematography (2)
Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (1958)
March 2: Editing (1)
Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1925)
SECOND PAPER DUE (CINEMATOGRAPHY)
March 9: Editing (2): The Continuity System
John Ford, Stagecoach (1939)
[March 16: SPRING BREAK -- NO CLASS]
[March 23: NO CLASS]
March 30: Film Sound
Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain (1952)
THIRD PAPER DUE (EDITING)
April 6: Film Genres: Melodrama (1)
Douglas Sirk, Written on the Wind (1956) (1944)
April 13: Film Genres: Melodrama (2)
Rainier Werner Fassbinder, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
April 20: Film Genres, Melodrama (3)
Pedro Almodovar, Broken Embraces (2009)
FOURTH PAPER DUE
April 27, 8:00 am - 10:30 am; FINAL EXAMINATION
Please note the new University rules regarding withdrawals:
Students must send withdrawal requests through Pipeline by Saturday, March 24. After this date, students WILL NOT be allowed to withdraw.
The Writing Center (2nd floor, UGL) provides individual tutoring
consultations free of charge for students at Wayne State
University. Undergraduate students in General Education courses
receive priority for tutoring appointments. The Writing Center
serves as a resource for writers, providing tutoring sessions on the
range of activities in the writing process: considering the audience,
analyzing the assignment or genre, brainstorming, researching, writing
drafts, revising, editing, and preparing documentation. The
Writing Center is not an editing or proofreading service;
rather, students are guided as they engage collaboratively in the
process of academic writing, from developing an idea to editing for
grammar and mechanics. To make an appointment, consult the
Writing Center website:
To submit material for online tutoring, consult the Writing Center HOOT website (Hypertext One-on-One Tutoring):
For more information about the Writing Center, please contact the Director, Jule Wallis (phone: 7-2544; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Plagiarism is a very serious matter and should be recognized as such. The University has a very strict policy on plagiarism. Always refer to your sources when quoting, paraphrasing, or using the ideas of other writers. When paraphrasing, place in quotes any phrase of four words or more that comes directly from the source being used.