• Some General Ideas About English 12: Film Analysis and Theory

    While most of you have spent much more time looking at screens than you have reading literature, you are, in general, much better equipped to analyze and respond to literature than you are to movies. This course is designed to change that by developing your "visual literacy". In general, the goal of Film Analysis and Theory is to give language to, and raise your awareness of, the many elements of filmmaking that affect us as viewers. In short, we will learn how to properly read a film.

    We will do this in a few different ways. One is through careful study of our textbook, Louis Giannetti's Understanding Movies. This is a college-level textbook that provides a thorough and in-depth study of every aspect of film arts. This includes cinematography (camera angles, colors, lighting, special effects) to the use of movement, to mise en scene (composition and design, density of shots, etc.) to the art of film editing. We will also watch some truly classic movies, applying our knowledge of the language of film to those works by focusing on the endless choices of directors, who most film critics consider to be the artistic equivalent of authors. You will show your knowldedge of this information through written analyses of individual shots, scenes, and entire films, as well as through the writing, planning, and directing, and presentation of your own original short film.

    Additionally, we will discuss various theories of film studies and filmmaking as they apply to classic films, including feminist, psychoanalytic, and genre studies. We will also study how literature is adapted for the screen, and gain a sense of the history of film art, from its inception in the late 1800s to modern times.

    As you can see, there is a lot to do! While this class was "built" from the original semester-long elective course called Film As Literature, it is very much a new and improved model, one that will help you to understand and appreciate even more why great movies are truly great literature, and how these productions influenced the film industry and culture itself.

    As you may imagine from this description, this is not merely a course for students who like to watch movies--especially those who want to relax and "zone out" while watching. As I say on the first day of classes, no popcorn will be served! This course will ask you to think in ways you never have before, and to see film, something with which you probably consider yourself to be very familiar, not merely as something to be consumed, but something that takes an incredibly vast amount of knowledge to create, and to appreciate.

    I look forward to our adventure together!