Lecture Presentations

At the conclusion of each major section (Film as Technology and Industry, Telling Stories on Film, and Film Style), I will post the powerpoint presentations for that section so that you can review them in preparation for the assignments.

 

The Birth of Cinema and The History of Film Technology

 

The Film Industry

 

Telling Stories on Film

Mise-en-Scene

 

Cinematography

 

Editing

 

Sound

Final Project

Assignment Due December 5

Choose a film that you find interesting and which we did not discuss (extensively) in class. The film may be old or recent, "arthouse" or mainstream, documentary or feature or animated. What is important is that it is interesting to you. The key is to use it to demonstrate the techniques taught in this course. Discuss its form and narrative strategies, analyze its style (with references to specific scenes), and situate it within film genres and history. Divide your paper into five sections corresponding to the bullet points below: (1) Introduction: background, genre, place in film history; (2) Why I chose this film; (3) Film Form, (4) Film Style, (5) How the tools and material I learned in this course helped me to understand and/or appreciate this film differently from how I would have at the before taking the course.  Approximately 5 pages total. Please e-mail the paper to Professor Herzog.

Some Tips on Writing Your Paper

  • Begin with a brief introduction to the film: (1) when and where was it made?, (2) who was involved in making the film (director, actors, studio, etc.), (3) what genre(s) does it fit into?, (4) how does it relate to other films that came before or after it?
  • Tell us why you find this film interesting.
  • Discuss the film's form: (1) how does it narrated?, (2) how is it structured?
  • Discuss the film's style: (1) choose an importance sequence, (2) discuss the sequence, (3) show how the sequence fits into the entire film.
  • Tell us how the tools and material you learned in this course helped you to understand and/or appreciate this film differently from how you would have at the before taking the course.

 

Film Today, Course Wrap-Up, and Discussion of Final Projects

Session Preview

In this session we look at film history from the mid-1970s to the present. Topics include the advent of the modern blockbuster, the rise of the independent film, and the (re)internationalization of cinema. 

In this session, we will also wrap up our discussions for the semester and look forward to the final project. 

Assignment Due for This Session

How would you describe the film world today? What kinds of films are popular? What do you think the future holds for the cinema?  Post your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Assignment Due December 5

Choose a film that you find interesting and which we did not discuss (extensively) in class. The film may be old or recent, "arthouse" or mainstream, documentary or feature or animated. What is important is that it is interesting to you. The key is to use it to demonstrate the techniques taught in this course. Discuss its form and narrative strategies, analyze its style (with references to specific scenes), and situate it within film genres and history. Divide your paper into five sections corresponding to the bullet points below: (1) Introduction: background, genre, place in film history; (2) Why I chose this film; (3) Film Form, (4) Film Style, (5) How the tools and material I learned in this course helped me to understand and/or appreciate this film differently from how I would have at the before taking the course.  Approximately 5 pages total. Please e-mail the paper to Professor Herzog.

Some Tips on Writing Your Paper

  • Begin with a brief introduction to the film: (1) when and where was it made?, (2) who was involved in making the film (director, actors, studio, etc.), (3) what genre(s) does it fit into?, (4) how does it relate to other films that came before or after it?
  • Tell us why you find this film interesting.
  • Discuss the film's form: (1) how does it narrated?, (2) how is it structured?
  • Discuss the film's style: (1) choose an importance sequence, (2) discuss the sequence, (3) show how the sequence fits into the entire film.
  • Tell us how the tools and material you learned in this course helped you to understand and/or appreciate this film differently from how you would have at the before taking the course.

 

Assignment #3

I will select a short sequence from one of the films that we have viewed in its for this class. I will show this sequence at the beginning of the session and then repeat it. Students will write a sequence analysis in which they discuss mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound and relate this sequence to the film as a whole. So make sure you have seen all of the films assigned thus far, as well as have reviewed the sequence analysis worksheet.

Workshop: How to Do a Sequence Analysis

Session Summary

In this session, we will bring together everything we have worked on in the Film Style unit. We will learn to do a sequence analysis, which is a detailed examination of a short segment from a film (usually 3 minutes or so in length) that comments on the interesting aspects of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound in the chosen sequence. It then ties this formal analysis to the film's meanings in this sequence and in the film as a whole.

 

Assignment Due for this Session

Review the sequence analysis worksheet, which we will use as a guide in this session. Watch Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, USA, 1941). (Citizen Kane on the Blackboard) We will use clips from this film in our workshop.

If you had to pick one short sequence (3-5 minutes in length) as the most crucial to understanding the film, which sequence would you choose? Post your response in the comments below.

 

Sequence Analysis Explained

What is a sequence analysis?

A close examination of a short film clip (approximately 3 minutes). The clip should be significant—it should stand out in the film as a whole. Hint: Beginnings are almost always good subjects for a sequence analysis.

How do you do a sequence analysis?

As you watch a scene, record your observations under each of the four main sections (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound). You will have to view the scene several times, looking at a different aspect each time.

Then what?

Afterwards, consider how your observations relate to the film as a whole, how they affect the meaning and impact of the entire film. Now take your notes and write a paragraph that highlights the most important elements in the sequence and their meanings.

Elements of a Sequence Analysis

The following questions are meant to help guide your sequence analysis. Not all questions will be important in all sequences. The idea is to figure out what is significant and focus on those aspects.

Mise-en-Scene

Mise-en-scene refers to what is being filmed. What is the setting of the sequence? Describe the acting, make-up, props, lighting, and colors. Is anything else significant in the mise-en-scene?

Cinematography

Cinematography refers to how the sequence is filmed. What is the look of the sequence? What perspectives (positions) does the camera take? What is being focused on? How is it framed? Is there movement? Is anything else significant?

Editing

Editing refers to how the shots are put together. Is it continuity editing? Are there visible cuts? What is the average shot length? Is anything else significant about the editing?

Sound

Sound refers to anything present on the soundtrack? What sounds are present in the sequence? Where do they come from? Are there non-diegetic sounds? What else do you notice about the soundtrack?

Sound II

Session Preview

We continue our study of film sound, looking at the role that soundtracks play in cinema and bringing together all of the material from last session and this session for a Film Sound Workshop.

Assignment Due for This Session

What is your favorite film soundtrack? Why? As you think about this question, you might want to look at some of the following links. You need not, however, select from these lists. Post your answer in the comments below.

The Guardian: The 50 Greatest Film Soundtracks

From Psycho to Singing in the Rain, Slade in Flame to Shaft, our star-studded panel of big screen connoisseurs select the greatest soundtracks in cinema's history ...

The Telegraph: 100 Best Movie Soundtracks

From 'Psycho' to 'Some Like it Hot', from Mozart and Wagner to Rodgers & Hammerstein... may we present cinema's greatest scores

American Film Institute: 100 Years of Film Scores

American Film Institute (AFI) revealed the top 25 film scores of all time in The Big Picture - AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores

Sound I

Session Preview

Film is typically considered a visual art. Although it is strongly visual, sound has always played a vital role in film. Even "silent cinema" was rarely silent; it was instead accompanied by music or even narration. In this session we will examine the concept of film sound and notice how even the seemingly simplest soundtracks are in fact complex layers of dialogue, music, and sound effects. Many of the concepts from visual film style (tonality and texture, position and offscreen space, and editing) have close counterparts in film sound.

 

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch this opening scene from Drive (dir. Nicholas Winding Refn, USA, 2011) and describe its use of sound. What sounds are heard? How do these sounds let us know what is going on? Post a comment below.

 

Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sound: Playful Examples

 

Richard Wagner and George Lucas

This post discusses the ways in which the Star Wars films owe a debt to the theories and practice of the 19th-century composer Richard Wagner.

 

How Soundtracks Affect Mood: An Example from The Shining

Editing II

Session Preview

In this session we continue our look at the art of film editing. We will look at examples of different types of editing and the very different effects they can have.

Assignment Due for This Session

Watch the following clip from Battleship Potemkin (dir. Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925). How would you describe the editing style? Does it employ continuity editing? Does it keep you oriented as to what is happening and spatial relations? What is the effect of the way the shots are put together?

 

The Blackest Friday

Video edited by UC student Sam Pennybacker that is, he writes: "an homage to, and implementation of, the montage editing techniques developed and theorized by Sergei Eisenstein. In particular, I was most inspired by the Odessa staircase sequence from his 1925 film Battleship Potemkin, which I combined into this video."

In the Mood for Love (dir. Wang Kar-wai, Hong Kong, 2000)

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In the Mood for Love (dir. Wang Kar-wai, Hong Kong, 2000)

Available at Netflix

Available on YouTube

More information on IMDB

 

Assignment for this Session

Watch In the Mood for Love. Pay special attention to its mise-en-scene and cinematography. How would you characterize the film's "look?" Is there a sequence that stood out as particularly memorable to you?  Join the discussion of the film by posting a comment below.

 

How to View the Film

This film is available on Netflix, YouTube and Blackboard

 

Cinematography II

Session Summary

We continue our discussion of cinematography, focusing on camera positions and movement.

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch the following clip of the opening sequence of Touch of Evil (dir. Orson Welles, USA, 1958). Describe the camera's movements throughout this scene. How does the scene build suspense? Does the cinematography contribute to this? Post a comment below.

The Mobile Camera and the French New Wave

Behind the Scenes of Hugo

On the Set: Steadicam Shot

The Scene as it Appears in the Film

Interview with Larry McConkey, who operated the camera in the scene

Cinematography I

Session Summary

Last session we discussed mise-en-scene (what is being filmed). This session we turn our attention to the other element that makes up a "shot:" cinematography. Cinematography refers to what goes on with the camera during a shot -- i.e. how it is filmed. We will look at camera positions, framing, and movement and consider the implications of different choices of film stock (or video) and aspect ratio.

Assignment Due for this Session

Watch the following sequence from Goodfellas (dir. Martin Scorsese, USA, 1990) and describe as precisely as possible what is going on with the camera. Pay particular attention to how the camera moves. Comment below.

Mise-en-Scene II

Session Preview

In this section, we continue our discussion of mise-en-scene. We will concentrate on performance, discuss different theories of acting, and the important role that actors' on-screen and off-screen images play in our understanding of the films they are in.

Assignment Due for this Session

Who is your favorite actor? Think about at least all of the films you have seen them perform in. What is it that you like about his/her performances? Do these performances differ from film to film? Are they consistent? Do you like some performances more than others? Comment below.

Mise-en-Scene I

Session Preview

In this section, we turn to a discussion of film style. This session is devoted to the first of the two elements that make up a "shot." Mise-en-scene is a French term derived from live theater that refers to that which is put into a scene: set design, actors, props, etc. It also refers to the way a scene is lit. The simplest way to think about it is that which is being filmed.

 

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Assignment Due for this Session

Look at the image on the post for this session, from the 2002 film Bend it Like Beckham. What can you figure out about the young woman in the picture? Feel free to speculate based on the evidence in the frame. (If you have seen the film, pretend that you don't know anything but what is on this frame.) Post your comment below.

 

Assignment #2: Film Form

Choose any film that you wish and write a paper in which you discuss the film's form (how it is structured), narrative (how the story is told) and genre. Structure your paper in 4 sections and label each section: (1) How is the film structured? (2) How is the story narrated? (3) Does the film conform to the principles of Classical Hollywood Cinema? Be specific as you test it against the principles of CHC. (4) How would you classify is the film's genre(s)? How does it relate to generic conventions? Approx. 500 words. Include your group number in the subject line along with the assignment number (Example: "Group 1 - Assignment 2"). Please e-mail your paper to Professor Herzog by the beginning of class. Email address: itsallacademic@gmail.com.

Rango (dir. Gore Verbinski, USA, 2011)

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Rango, dir. Gore Verbinski (USA, 2011)

Available at Netflix

More Information at IMDB

Assignment for this Session

 

Watch Rango. What genre or genres does the film work with? How does it treat generic traditions? Does it follow the core principles of Classical Hollywood Cinema?

 

How to View the Film

This film is available on Netflix (not Watch Instantly) and on Amazon (for rental and purchase). It is also available for streaming on the course Blackboard page.

 

Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan, USA, 2000)

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Memento, dir. Christopher Nolan (USA, 2000)

Available on Blackboard

Available on Netflix

More info at IMDB

 

 

Assignment for this Session

Watch Memento and do a basic plot segmentation for the film. Think about how it is structured. Is there any pattern to the individual scenes. Also consider how it is narrated. Is there an explicit narrator? How is information given to the viewer? Please post your comment below.

 

How to View the Film

This film is available on Netflix (not Watch Instantly) and on Amazon (for rental and purchase). It is also available for streaming on the course Blackboard page.