Cinema (HUM 2893)

Intersession: May, 2011

Monday through Friday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Baird Hall 116

Professor: Dr. Hugh Foley

Office: Dept. of Fine Arts, Baird 217D

Phone: (918) 343-7566

Required Texts

Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. 9th edition. New York:  

   McGraw-Hill, 2010.

Required Films

Note: These are very common, classic films, and should be easy to obtain either through a library, video rental store, online video source, or through any “big box” store with a DVD video section.

Citizen Kane


Any Alfred Hitchcock film: North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, etc.



Course Description

Introduction to Cinema, HUM 2893, is designed to give students critical insight into the "language" of motion pictures, film theory, history of cinema, and appreciation of the common elements of commercial and artistic films.



Course Objectives

Along with learning basic terminology for discussing a film in critical terms, the student will also use their analytical skills in writing to evaluate films. These evaluations should grow in depth as the student learns about the camera, scene construction, editing, sound, lighting, elements of meaning, narrative technique, and the business of the motion picture industry. The two primary objectives of the course are to elevate the student's appreciation for motion pictures, and to further enhance the student's expressive, communicative, and critical skills through writing about films.




Course Outline

Unit 1: Film as Art: Creativity, Technology and Business, Part I

a.       Mechanics of Film

b.      Making a Film, Production Terms

c.       Exhibition of Films

d.      Reading: Film Art, Chapter 1, pages 1 through 50

Unit 2: The Significance in Film Form, Part I

a.       The Concept of Form in Film

b.      Principles in Film Form

c.       Reading: Film Art, Chapter 2, pages 54 through 73

Unit 3: Narrative as a Formal System

a.       Principles of Narrative Construction

b.      Narration: The Flow of Story Information

c.       Classical Hollywood Cinema

d.      Reading: Film Art, Chapter 3, pages 74 – 109.

Unit 4: The Shot: Mis-en-Scene

a.       Aspects of Mis-en-Scene

b.      Mis-en-Scene in time and space

c.       Reading: Film Art, Chapter 4, pages 112 – 160

Unit 5: The Shot: Cinematography

a.       The Photographic Image

b.      Framing

c.       Duration of the Image

d.      Reading: Film Art, Chapter 5, pages 162 - 216

Unit 6: The Relation of One Shot to Another: Editing

a.       Dimensions of Film Editing

b.      Continuity Editing

c.       Unconventional Editing

d.      Reading: Film Art, Chapter 6, pages 218 through 263

Unit 7: Sound in the Cinema

a.       Fundamentals of Film Sound

b.      Dimensions of Film Sound

c.       Reading: Film Art, Chapter 7, pages 264 through 303

Unit 8: Mid-term exam (May 13, 2011)

a.       Review

b.      Exam

Unit 9: Style as a Formal System in Cinema

a.       The Concept of Style

b.      Analyzing Film Style

c.       Style in Citizen Kane

d.      Reading: Film Art, Chapter 8, pages 304 through 316

Unit 10: Film Genres

a.       Understanding Genre

b.      Analyzing a Genre Film

c.       Reading: Film Art, Chapter 9, pages 318 through 337

Unit 11: Documentary, Experimental, and Animated Films

a.       Documentary

b.      Experimental Film

c.       Animated Film

d.      Reading: Film Art, Chapter 10, pages 338 through 381

Unit 12: Casablanca as classic Hollywood cinema

a.       Casablanca as a multi-genre film

b.      Casablanca as a World War II-era metaphor

c.       Casablanca as film noir

Unit 13: Film Criticism: Critical Analyses

a.       Classical Narrative Cinema

b.      Narrative Alternatives to Classic Filmmaking

c.       Reading: Film Art, Chapter 11, pages 384 through 426

Unit 14: Alfred Hitchcock

a.       Significance and Cinematic Qualities of Alfred Hitchcock

Unit 15: New Film of Significance

a.       Sources and schedules for new films

b.      Journal: Short form analysis of plot, mis-en-scene, sound, editing, and meaning

Unit 16: Final Exam (May 20, 2011)



Policies, Procedures, and Course Requirements

Submitting e-mails to the professor: Please indicate student status in the subject line of the e-mail so the instructor can prioritize the message and get back to you within 24 hours during the week, or by Monday if you write over the weekend.


Assessment Tools:

1. Students will complete 14 journal entries throughout the course of the semester and will submit those journal entries as a completed document (containing all 14 journal entries) to the professor via e-mail by May 27, 2011. Your first journal entry would be titled "Journal 1." These journal entries will result from students viewing films and writing a journal entry for that film by following the instructions in the various journal assignments.  Note: Many of the journal entries require students to view films. Some of the journal questions can be answered by viewing the CD-ROM that is packaged with the textbook. Each chapter has representative film clips that can be used to answer many of the journal questions, as well as provide important additional information for understanding the chapter. However, students may use any films of their choice to answer the questions, and a single film may be used to answer different journal prompts.


Due Date for Journals: May 27, 2011

2. Students will write a 1,000-word film explication essay, explaining how the following 25 terms of cinema operate in any film of the student’s choice:

setting, plot, conflict, character change, camera angles to include wide shot, medium shot, close up, high angle or low angle, hand-held or fixed camera, blocking, mis en scene, editing, color, lighting, music, sound effects, costume, acting, script, theme, universal symbols, cultural symbols, target audience for the film, any information you can gather about the marketing of the film, and at least one critical response to the film.

Each term is worth four points and each should be put in bold in the essay. If the terms are not in bold, they may not receive credit.

Don’t forget the thesis. Students should also either open or close the essay with a general thesis about the film. If you have not written a thesis in a while, remember that it’s a topic (the film) plus an opinion (good or bad?) and then some controlling ideas (because of the lighting, directing, and music).

For example, "Citizen Kane is a great film because of the director's authorial control of the camera, the use of 20th century American media as a theme, and Orson Welles’ depiction of William Randolph Hearst."  Or…

Déjà vu is a good film because of the acting, the special effects, and the surprise ending.”

ESSAY DUE DATE: May 27, 2011

3. B. Alternate assignment to film explication essay: Student film/video project. Students may substitute a five to eight minute film/video for the film explication essay. The film should incorporate at least 25 cinematic terms easily visible and audible to the instructor, have a story in which a character experiences conflict, change, and resolution, and be burned to DVD and submitted to the professor by the July 15, 2011, or uploaded to youtube, google video, or yahoo video so the instructor may see the video. Students who decide on this option must submit a shooting script with the video by May 19, 2011.

4. Students will take a mid-term and a final exam.


Grading Policies

Students are graded on the following items throughout the course:

  1. Film Journals (25%)
  2. Mid-term (25%)
  3. Final (25%)
  4. Film explication essay or short film (25%)


100% - 90% = A

89% - 80% = B

79% -70% = C

69% - 60% = D

Below 60% = F


Academic Misconduct: Students are expected to follow university policies as put forth in the institution’s Student Code of Responsibilities and Conduct. In accordance with Title 12 of The Student Code (page 11), instances of alleged academic misconduct will follow the policies and procedures as described in Title 12. As a general rule, Faculty at RSU have the responsibility of enforcing the academic code. Therefore, if academic misconduct is suspected I will submit a letter of alleged academic misconduct to the Office of Student Affairs.

Plagiarism Statement: Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own, including: direct quotation without both attribution and indication that the material is being directly quoted; e.g. quotation marks; paraphrase without attribution; paraphrase with or without attribution where the wording of the original remains substantially intact and is represented as the author’s own; expression in one’s own words, but without attribution, of ideas, arguments, lines of reasoning, facts, processes, or other products of the intellect where such material is learned from the work of another and is not part of the general fund of common knowledge.

ADA Statement: Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services. Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended. Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs.


Attendance Policy: Excuses are not necessary for student absences, however, students are responsible for all material covered in class. I do not withdraw students from the class for non-attendance. The responsibility for withdrawing from the class lies with the students. See the university calendar for the last date to withdraw from the course with a "W".


Closure Statement: The schedule and procedures of this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances. (University Closure Statement, IRPAA 8/25/99, p. 25).


Film Journals

 (100 points possible – 7 points each question)

(Plus 2 bonus points for completing all journal prompts)

  1. After reading Chapter 1, answer the following questions about one of your favorite films, or to any film to which you have access. Also remember, watching a film at least twice will better prepare you to engage with this course. If you haven't seen your favorite film in a while, try watching it again with these questions in mind:
    1. Who is the director and what impact do you think they had on the film?
    2. Note one technical element of the film that you noticed after reading this chapter.
    3. What kind of production was this film, according to the categories of film production in Chapter 1 of the textbook?
    4. What kind of audience did the film's producers hope to reach with this film?
    5. According to at least one online professional source (Not Wikipedia), was the film a commercial or critical success?
  2. After viewing any film, explain four potential meanings of the film using the different aspects of meaning detailed in Chapter 2 of your textbook: referential, explicit, implicit, and symptomatic.
  3. After viewing the film, Citizen Kane, students should detail what they feel are the four most significant narrative revelations in the film that provide insight into Kane's character.
  4. Several video samples on the CD-ROM that comes with the textbook have good examples of mis-en-scene. If you were going to pick a scene from one of your favorite movies that would be good to teach someone else about mis-en-scene, what film and scene would it be, and why?
  5. Students should detail how the camera functions in any film to enhance meaning. At minimum, students should be able to determine canted angles, high and low angles, wide shots, and figures placed to the left or right of the frame to indicate tension. Make sure to have at least five camera terms from Chapter 5 and examples of them from any film you choose.
  6. Now that you understand continuity editing, describe at least 10 shots from any film that are edited together for a classic example of continuity editing. For example:
    Shot 1: Wide angle of two actors (A and B)
    Shot 2: Close up actor A speaking
    Shot 3: Reaction shot from Actor B
    Shot 4: Close up of handle on a doorknob
    Shot 5: Medium point of view shot of unknown actor C looking at actors A and B
    Shot 6: Wide shot of actors A and B talking with door opening behind them
    Shot 7: Medium shot of unknown actor C entering door with a raised gun
    Shot 8: Reaction shot of actor A shouting, "don't shoot"
    Shot 9: Close up of gun going off with a flag that comes out and says, "Bang"
    Shot 10: Medium shot of actor C saying, "Fooled ya!"
    Shot 11: Close up of actor B saying with a smile, "I'll remember this on your birthday."
  7. Write one paragraph about a scene from one of your favorite films in which the dialogue, sound effects, and music all combine to create the perfect soundtrack for what is going on in the film dramatically.
  8. In a five to seven sentence paragraph, students should explain how they have noticed similarities in cinematic style between two different films made by two different directors.
  9. Make a list of 10 different genres and a film that would go with each genre.
  10. For this assignment, find the following information:
    1. Two documentary films that explore two different angles of the same issue. Summarize the differences between the two films’ positions on the subject.
    2. One experimental film that had commercial or critical success. Cite the source of your understanding of the film’s commercial or critical success.
    3. One animated film that succeeded commercially or critically beyond the traditional youth market associated with most animated films. Cite the source of your reference for understanding how the film succeeded beyond the youth market.
  11. This journal entry should focus entirely on the film Casablanca. Students should on analyzing and interpretation of the film. Students should provide the following in this journal response:

    1. Commentary on the use of shadows in the film
    2. Specific examples of how Rick's character is established and how the character changes
    3. Specific examples of camera angles and how they enhance a reading of the film
    4. Specific examples of historic accuracy of the film
    5. Specific examples of at least four different genres into which Casablanca can be placed
  12. For this journal entry, students should provide a 250 word entry in which one Hitchcock film is used to exhibit at least three of his major stylistic touchstones. After reading the various resources provided in this unit, students should be able to use any three elements of Hitchcock's cinema techniques to elaborate on a film of the student's choice from Hitchcock's career.
  13. For this final journal entry, students should provide a thorough critical analysis of a film they have not yet seen. After viewing the film, students should provide the following information in their journal under "Journal 13."
    1. Short summary of the film.
    2. The film's genre.
    3. Major character's conflict and change.
    4. Cinematic significance of one scene in the film.
    5. One important use of camera angles.
    6. One important use of color.
    7. Target audience of the film.
    8. One aspect of the film's style.
    9. Does the film follow a traditional Hollywood narrative?
    10. What point is the film maker trying to make in the film? In other words, what is the theme of the film; what does it mean?
  14. What do you think are the four most valuable things you know about appreciating films now that you did not know at the beginning of the course.

Journals Due: May 27, 2011


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