This course is an introduction to the diversity of approaches to film, the most influential of art forms in the 20th and 21st centuries. Using a variety of films and film clips from Hollywood, independent, and foreign cinemas to illustrate, the course will cover film’s aesthetic and cultural dimensions, its major narrative forms and selected genres. We will survey cinema’s technical elements and the ways it can narrate or “tell” a story; and we will also review one or two popular genres–such as the western, the gangster film, the musical, family melodrama, comedy, film noir, horror–and their variations over periods of American history and culture as they reflect the values and myths of those periods. By the end of the course, students will have developed a visual literacy and an awareness of film’s impact on us in its construction of paradigms by which we live or test our environment.

Assignments: a mid-term close analysis paper (4-6 pages) and/or a mid-term exam; 6 quizzes on the reading assignments; 5 worksheets on film viewings; and a comprehensive but selective final examination. Attendance required.

Text: Corrigan & White, The Film Experience: An Introduction, 5th Edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s; and two or three handout articles.

Films to Study (Tentative)

Citizen Kane, Children of Men, Battleship Potemkin, Bonnie and Clyde, The Bicycle Thief, Run Lola Run, Singin’ in the Rain, The Graduate, Rear Window, The Piano, It Happened One Night, Annie Hall, The Edge of Heaven, Persona