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Introduction to Film



This screening and reading schedule is meant to be suggestive only. In the event we find that we need to spend more time on a film/text than originally allocated, we can adjust our syllabus accordingly. You should also know that one of the signs of a good class is that we will not have time to "finish" discussing a film in all its complexity for a certain day; invariably, we will have have some leftover and residue (to be carried into the hallway). Formally, the class will proceed through discussion, group workshops, and occasional lecturing. Commonly, I will announce at the end of each class the assignment for the next session.

  • Please consult our texts for the pagination of our readings and the syllabus (below) for assignments online.
  • Always take a look at ReelWeb for possible Viewing Guides and other resources. At the same time, while the range of information on the web is tremendous, please note that it is not always reliable and intellectually rigorous. Make sure that you learn to work with the library's International Film Index, the International Index to the Performing Arts, the MLA Index for periodical literature, as well as our textbook's extensive bibliographies for further reading. Our bibliography on reserve is also a good starting point.
  • Take a plunge when you sign up for your oral reports/seminar facilitation, and feel free to discuss the focus of your presentation with me. I may be able to direct you (after you have done your own search) to additional specific sources, if necessary.
  • While we'll generally feature one film per class session, I will also (time permitting) bring in clips from additional suitable films to illustrate our concepts and ideas at hand.
Week 1

General Introduction

  • What are you in for?
  • The Lumiére Brothers' First Films (1998)
  • The Lumiére Brothers
  • Film Analysis, Karin Littau, "Arrrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895-1897)"
*** Please note: no class Labor Day, 7 September (Week 3) ***
Week 2

Adjusting to the Glare

  • Roman Polanski, Chinatown (1974) 130 m
  • Film Analysis, Steve Neale
Week 3 ***** No class, MLK Memorial Day *****
Week 4

Classic Hollywood Cinema and Film Form

  • Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941) 119 m
  • Film Analysis, James Naremore
  • Kane _____________________________
Week 5

The Shot: Mise-en-Scène, Discontinuity Editing & German Expressionism

  • Robert Wiene, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 74 m
  • German Expressionism in Film Art and on FilmPal GE I, II, III, IV
  • Film Analysis, Paul Coates
  • German Expressionsim / Caligari __________________________
Week 6

The Shot: Cinematography

  • Jean Renoir, The Rules of the Game (1939) 110 m
  • FA, Christopher Faulkner
  • Game __________________________________
Week 7 ***** No class, President's Day *****
Week 8

The Relation of Shot to Shot: Soviet Montage

  • Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1926) ca. 66 m
  • FA, Bill Nichols
  • Potemkin _________________________________
Week 9

Sound Film Sound, or, Tracking Sound Track

  • Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain (1952) 103 m
  • FA, Jane Feuer
  • Rain __________________________________
Week 10

The Paradox of the American Western

  • John Ford, Stagecoach (1939) 96 m
  • FA, Matthew Bernstein
  • Western / Stagecoach __________________________________
Week 11

Film Noir and Cinematography

  • Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity (1944) 110 m
  • Film Noir, An Introduction
  • FA, Gaylyn Studlar
  • Film Noir / Double ________________________________
Week 12

French New Wave

  • Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (1960) 90 m
  • French New Wave I, II, III
  • FA, Richard Neupert
  • New Wave / Breathless _____________________________
Week 13

Comedy Acting and the Visual Representation of Gender

  • Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"
  • Pedro Almodóvar, All About My Mother (1999) 101 m
  • FA, Paul Julian Smith
  • Mother ______________________________

*** Last day to hand in last screening report***

Week 14

International Cinema

  • Abbas Kiarostami,  Close-Up (1989) 98 m, or one of the postcolonial films discussed in Film Analysis
  • FA, Hamid Naficy
  • Final Exam Review
  • Close-Up __________________________
Week 15

Open Mike & Open Screen

  • Film and Reading TBA

*** Film Essay due: Monday, 15 April 2013 (tax day, alas!)***

Please consult the resources in Film Art and the "Writing about Film" section on FilmPal for helpful pointers

Week 16 Final exam as per course schedule booklet

Concluding Note


The only dumb question is the one you don't ask. My door is always open, and if it is not open, please knock; I will answer if I am there. Please don't hesitate to stop by.

Let's Connect!

mwutz@weber.eduPhone  801-626-7011
Skype  michaelwutz007

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Weber – The Contemporary West
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Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA