St. Louis Community College at Meramec

Communications Department

Professor Diane Carson, Ph.D.

Fall 2006 HE134  Mon/Wed 1:00-2:50 p.m.

Office: CS112      314-984-7532

Office Hours: Monday: by appointment
Tues 2-3, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Wed. 6-7 p.m., 10-10:30 p.m.
Th. 2-3, 4:30-7:00, 10-10:30 p.m.
Fri. 11-12, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this course is to help you learn to understand and appreciate the film medium. By the end of the semester, you should have:

1. The ability to use appropriately the basic terminology of film production and film analysis.

2. An understanding of the basic technical elements of film production including music and sound, editing (montage), composition (mise en scene), and camera movement and angle.

3. An understanding of the creative contributions to film, including screenwriting, directing, and performance.

4. An ability to apply various approaches to film analysis, including feminist, economic, historical, psychological, and sociopolitical.

5. An acquaintance with a variety of classic films, American and foreign, early and recent, narrative and nonnarrative, animated and live action.

6. An ability to think critically about your own and other individuals’ responses to film and to have insight into the film under consideration.

We will attempt to do all this through lectures, discussions, readings, writing, and, of course, film screenings.

This is a beginning course in film analysis, so I will assume that you have not previously studied film in an academic setting. What you will quickly discover is that film is a complex medium. Mastery demands time, thought, energy and discipline. If you like film and apply yourself, this class will be very enjoyable. Still, it is a college-level course that demands that you be conscientious in fulfilling all the requirements listed below.

EVALUATION CATEGORIES: Your grade in this class will depend on the following. If you

have any questions or concerns at any time during the semester concerning your work or your grade, please feel free to talk with me during office hours or at any other agreed upon time. Please ask for any help you need in this course.


1. ATTENDANCE: This is very important. You are expected to attend ALL classes and to be here the entire time. Our time is extremely limited and learning is cumulative, so we must take advantage of every class hour. Since this is a screening, lecture and discussion class, you miss experiences that can not be made up when you miss a session for any reason.

Your absences will affect your grade and your progress in film study. If you miss more than two classes, you can not receive above a C for the course. If you miss more than three classes, you can not receive above a D for the course.

Class begins promptly. Repeated lateness will count against you.

The "W" Grade: A grade of W will be issued if you complete the course withdrawal process by November 15th. If you do not withdraw by then and do not complete the course work, you will receive an F for the semester.

There are NO excused absences. When you are not present for any reason, you are absent. Should you miss class, you are responsible for missed work, information and any change in assignments. Call or see me well BEFORE the next class period.

Weekly screenings are included in class time.

2. ASSIGNMENTS: To earn at least a C for the course, you must complete all of the following writing assignments. Any late work will automatically lose one full grade. Each assignment will be graded on how well it demonstrates your thoughtful insight into the assigned film topic.

A. CRITICAL ANALYSIS PAPERS: Every two weeks you must write at least one page, double spaced and typed, as a response to the films under scrutiny. The topic for this response page will come directly from our class discussions and readings. At the conclusion of each class I will suggest the topic or topics for you to pursue in your own analysis papers.

For all of your writings, use regular, 8 1/2 by 11" white paper. I will not accept smaller pieces of paper. Use a word processor or type your paper. Double space. Use one side of the paper only; it makes your entries more readable. All rules of grammar apply.

I will collect your writing every four weeks.
They are due: Week 5, September 27th
Week 9, October 25th
Week 13, November 22nd
Week 16, December 13th

NOTE: PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. A student who deliberately or unintentionally submits as his or her own work anything which is in any part taken from another person without proper acknowledgement, use of quotation marks, credits, etc., is guilty of plagiarism. If you cheat in any way, you will receive an F as your course grade for the semester.

Further, a student guilty of submitting plagiarized material, for any course at Meramec, may be reported to the appropriate deans for disciplinary action and may be dismissed from this college. I will pursue this action if you plagiarize or cheat on any of your work.

B. QUIZZES and FINAL EXAM: We will have regular (almost weekly) short (10 to 20 points) quizzes. These quizzes will cover your readings and the films we've watched. They may be either multiple choice or short essay. We will also have a final exam.

Quizzes must be taken on time. If you miss a quiz for any reason, you must see or call me in sufficient time to arrange to make it up BEFORE the next class period. If you do not, you will receive 0 points for that quiz. If you contact me in time, you may make up one quiz without penalty.

C. CLASS PREPARATION AND PARTICIPATION: You are expected to complete all the assigned readings BEFORE our class for the week. Be sure to ask about anything you don't understand before, during, or after class.

Because we all learn a great deal from each other, you are expected to be attentive to and involved in all discussions. You should listen carefully to the observations and insights of others and offer your own in a spirit of open discussion and investigation. If you are not polite, you will be asked to leave.

D. TO EARN AN "A" GRADE: ORAL or VISUAL PRESENTATION: In order to qualify to earn an "A" in this course, you must do something extra. That extra is an independent project on a film NOT viewed and studied in class AND approved by me. This presentation should run approximately 10 minutes and will be delivered on or before the last class period, December 13th.

As the semester progresses, we will discuss this requirement and what I expect you to do should become clear. I encourage you to talk with me about your project as you develop your ideas. You must hand in notes after your presentation, and you must speak from at least an outline to avoid forgetting what you want to say or just talking randomly about the film.

Grade Computation for B, C, D, and F:
Writing assignments: Up to 45%
Quizzes/Tests: Up to 45%
Attendance/ Participation: Up to 10%

To earn an A: An A average on the above plus an A on your independent project.

Controversial Course Content: If you feel that any film we will be studying contains material you find offensive, inform me at least one week ahead of that class period. I will give you an alternative assignment. I will try to alert you to controversial films, but I can not anticipate differences of opinion from all of you. Therefore, it is your responsibility to research the upcoming films if you are concerned about their content. Material on all these films is available in book, articles, and on the web.

Student Disability Notification Responsibility: It is students' responsibility to notify the instructor of any disability that may have relevance to their performance in this course. This notification should be given prior to any assignment that may be influenced by the disability. All disabilities must be verified by the college's ACCESS Office. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate these disabilities. Students claiming to have "undocumented" disabilities should contact the ACCESS office.

If you know you have any type of learning disability, support services exist here at Meramec. It is your responsibility to make your needs known to me as soon as possible.

In addition, since this course requires that you read with comprehension at the college level and that you write with grammatical correctness and clarity, you should know that Meramec provides free support services in its College Writing Center and the College Reading and Study Skills Center, both on the first floor of Communications North.

Again, if you have any questions during the semester concerning your progress or the readings or if you want to make suggestions, feel free to talk with me. I am here to help you learn as much as possible about film in the time we have. I encourage you to take advantage of any help I may provide to increase your learning.

SYLLABUS for Fall 2005 Film Appreciation

Text:  William H. Phillips. Film: An Introduction. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St.
             Martin’s, 2002.

Week 1: Introduction to the Course

Films: “A Nickel for the Movies,”  d. James Naremore, 22 min.
            “Lunch Date” (1989)    d. Adam Davidson, 10 min.
“Duck Amuck” (1953)  d. Chuck Jones

Read: Introduction, pp. 1-5
Improving Reading Comprehension, pp. 466-468
           How to Read Film Credits, pp. 532-538

Week 2

Films: “Basic Film Photography,”  16 min.
            “Un Chien Andalou” (1928)  Salvador Dali & Luis Bunuel, 20 min.
“Acting in Film with Michael Caine,” excerpts

Read: Chapter 1, Mise en Scene, pp. 9-31
Chapter 2, Cinematography, pp. 55-64
Chapter 8, Narrative Components of Fictional Films, pp. 280-298
           See also pp. 111, 123, 295, 318-319, 332-333

Week 3

Film: His Girl Friday  (1940)  Howard Hawks, 95 min.

Read: Chapter 7, Types of Fictional Films, pp. 223-244
Chapter 8, Narrative Components of Fictional Films, pp. 261-280

Week 4

Film: Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock, 109 min

Read: Chapter 2, Cinematography, pp. 65-98
Chapter 4, Sound, pp. 141-168

Week 5

Film: Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, 119 min.

Read: Chapter 1, Mise en Scene, pp. 31-54
In Chapter 8, The Plot and Fabula of Citizen Kane, pp. 288-289
Appendices, Writing About Films, pp. 459-466

Week 6

Continue Citizen Kane analysis
See again pp. 144, 149, 153, 158, & 162—all on sound

Week 7

Film: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)  Arthur Penn, 111 min.

Read: Chapter 3, Editing, pp. 99-140

Week 8

Films: “Meshes of the Afternoon” (1943) Maya Deren, 14 min.
“A Movie”  (1958) Bruce Connor, 12 min.
Clips from The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola        

Read: Chapter 9, Alternatives to Live-Action Fictional Films, pp. 317-340

Week 9

Videos: “Warrior Marks” (1993)   Pratibha Parmar, 54 min.
   “Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood and Corporate Power”

Read: Chapter 9, Documentary Films, pp. 299-317

Week 10

Excerpts from The Player (1992) Robert Altman

Read: Chapter 13, Understanding The Player, pp. 445-455

Week 11

Film: Get on the Bus (1996)  Spike Lee, 121 min.

Read: Chapter 6, Sources for Fictional Films, pp. 183-222

Week 12

Film: Smoke Signals (1998)  Chris Eyre, 88 min.

Read: Chapter 11, Understanding Films through Contexts, pp. 365-402

Week 13

Film: Girlfight  (2000)  Karyn Kusama, 92 min.

Read: Chapter 12, Thinking about Films, pp. 403-444.

Week 14--No class: Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 15

Film (on DVD): Ju Dou (1989)  Zhang Yimou, 92 min.

Read: Chapter 7, Other Cinemas, pp. 245-260

Week 16

Animated Films: The Fly, Claymation, Mindscape, Faces, The Owl Who Married the Goose, Begone Dull Care, Geri’s Game

Read: Chapter 9, Animation, pp. 340-351

Final Week