Winter 2013
Wednesday, 12:50 pm - 4:50 pm
State 106

Web address for this page:
On Blackboard, log in to: "Introduction to Film, section 3: Winter 2013 COM 2010 and ENG 2450 (COMBINED)."

Steven Shaviro ( or )

5057 Woodward, Room 9309
Office hours: Wednesday 10:30 am - 12:30 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. The aim of the class is to learn how to analyze films, and to become more aware of the ways in which films work as forms of artistic expression,

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.

We meet once a week, for four hours. The first half of each class will be devoted to the screening of full-length feature films. The second half of each class 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.

The films we will watch in the course of the semester 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. In addition to feature-length films, we will also be looking at recent or contemporary music videos.

Class requirements include regular attendance and five short assigned papers. Each of the five assigned papers will count for 20% of your grade. There will be no final examination, but the final paper will be due on the date scehduled for a final. Papers should be 2 to 3 pages long. Detailed instructions for each paper assignment will be given out in class a week before the papers are due. Papers must be submitted to me electronically, via email; they are due in my inbox by the end of the day on which they are due. The final grade for the class will reflect your performance on the five papers. However, points may be deducted for late papers, as well as for excessive non-attendance.

January 9
General introduction to film. From silent film to music videos.
Buster Keaton, Sherlock Junior (1924)
Various music videos.

January 16
The Film Experience.
Screening: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954).

January 23
Mise-en-scene (1).
Josef von Sternberg, The Scarlet Empress (1934)

January 30
Mise-en-scene (2).
Ridley Scott, Blade Runner(1982)

February 6
Cinematography (1).
Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion (1937)

February 13
Cinematography (2).
Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (1958)

February 20
Editing (1). Basics of Editing.
Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1925)

February 27
Editing (2): The Continuity System.
John Ford, Stagecoach (1939)

March 6: NO CLASS


March 20: NO CLASS

March 27
Film Sound (1).
Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain (1952)

April 3
Film Sound (2).
Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation (1967)

April 10: NO CLASS

April 17
Summary and conclusions.
Various music videos.

Monday, April 29 (exam week)

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