Hello! Welcome to the Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color.

I am Scott Higgins, Associate Professor of Film Studies at Wesleyan University, and this is an experiment so thanks for joining me. It is an online version of a class that I teach here at Wesleyan. and I've never done an on-line course, so let's hope that it all works. There are plenty of things I don't know, about how this whole thing, of often works, so bear with me, Hopefully that, eh, we can learn. From what I know, this is the first film class, that Coursera has offered. So, It's uncharted territory, but I think it can be done and it can be interesting. What I'm going to do today is pretty easy. I'm going to introduce the class and some of the key concepts and also say a few things about how it's all setup on, on Coursera. so let's try that. again. This is class a couple key terms to, to begin to the define this classum, and there in the title; the language of Hollywood, story telling, sound and, and, and color. and its all you know. Fairly straightforward, I guess. The first term is language, and by that I really mean just a way of newing and doing things, knowing and doing things shared by filmmakers and audiences. Not like a written language, not with the same sort of formality and rules. Some people would call this a paradigm. If you wanted to be all academicy about it. and that's fine all these called a language way that we know and do cinema and the important thing is that film makers and audiences shares these ideas about, about cinema. but this is not just language of cinema, this is about Hollywood not all film but American the film industry, which does mainly one thing from about 1912, 1915 onwards, what it does is tell feature length stories. One story 90 minutes and an experience that the viewer follows from beginning to end all the way through. I say that Hollywood had the mandate to tell stories that emotionally engage audiences. Basically, that means, that's how they made money. If, if a film company was going to sur vive, it had to bring a viewer into the theater, and give them an emotional experience, an emotional fix. That's the money that you get. You get it, not by showing somebody a stunning picture, or by demonstrating the abstract qualities of cinema. You get ''em by telling a story, getting them to relate to a character and, and have feelings.

it's story telling and it's about the film and the viewer. when. feel it first. I think Hollywood. Early on Hollywood found. You're not thinking about the uses of cinema as you watch it. So we're talking about Hollywood and we're talking about the viewer. Allow themselves to. you know. Not just the films upon screen. for making films that we can. but not necessarily thought about. so each movie promises an emo tional experience to each viewer and what we're doing is studying the means of achieving that goal. These films speak to us individually. A successful Hollywood film from there. on a screen. Well. the story. but what they do to you and me when. so it's Hollywood film. There about our deepest desires. You feel in some sense the emotions that they feel. you're not thinking about. it gives you a very personal experience. get under our skin how do we allow them to get under our skin. what was that experience? Well it's interesting. I think. what are the mechanisms for. you know. they had to deliver an emotional nugget. But we experience them communally with other people in the audience. You feel directly related to the characters. They had to give them an experience that they would tell others about and want to repeat. and if the story makes sense. and a lot of my efforts to this. in the lobby. when we watch them. How are these films designed to be felt. again and again. How is it that these Hollywood films. But at the moment. And it's this mixture of the personal and the communal that makes Hollywood film unique and powerful. this class we're going to be spent on talking about film style film form which is you know a way of just saying how films employ images and sounds because that's what a movie is. I'm talking about the studio era. viscerally received and engaged with by the audience. so here's a I guess. Hollywood producers found that if they wanted to keep people coming back into the theater. Before . You're just feeling it and in this class we're looking beneath that process. Was one that was meant to be felt and enjoyed and I guess. from the nineteen teens onward. still like that today. it all comes down to the money.there's an economic rationale for this. think about it later. What. it's still. a manifesto for Hollywood. we can feel. You could always think about it later on if you want. It's a collection of sounds and images up there on.

It's not really about analyzing plots. And storytelling is. you know what makes a Frank Borzage film. Man. a Frank Borzage film as opposed to say a Howard Hawks film. are playing the same game. you know. And the idea that they're playing by the same rules is you know One way of talking about a style in general. every filmmaker working within this style. but each of these filmmakers has their own thing going on. Very broadly. before its characters we can empathize with and feel. So there's a style of the whole. creates a distinctive world. Warner Bros. those are my dates. They. It is first just pictures and sound. most really . an important term. they skip over time in between scenes.its big ideas. look at screenplays. how to stage an action how to edit shots together. these are the big feature films made by the major studios Paramont. they. They tell stories about heroes who meet obstacles and overcome those obstacles to reach their goals. a very general Hollywood style that all filmmakers engage in. It absorbs the audience into the creation of the story. You know. And that is a kind of way that Hollywood made films from I guess. And in this class. what 1917 to 1960. I've mentioned this before already. Fox. they tend to have continuous time and space within scenes. But. They all pretty much know how to shoot a scene. MGM. I'm trying to lo okay at distinctive and interesting filmmakers. class is about how film makers tell stories. one of the ways is the very broad and general definition of film style. I think of it as studio era-cinema. and it's not about. And all of these films follow some very similar stylistic or formal rules. all filmmakers working in the studio era. which is called classical Hollywood cinema. That's Hollywood storytelling and that's the way we're going to talk about it.. and I'll be using both of them. There's a relationship between you and the film. of course. This class will ask that question and try to get try to get closer to the choices that film makers make. And most Hollywood filmmakers. the classical Hollywood style. creating their own particular world Will be interested in that. I'm aslo talking about the style of specific filmmakers. and I've. the specific choices film makers make. it's about film storytelling which is a kind of storytelling created out of space and time that directly engages the audience. A couple ways of talking about style. this film.

these moments of transition from one. They're also challenges because as soon as you have this new thing. Two new things given to artists working in the film industry. that's an important part of this class. To complete the picture. And in America films always cost a lot of money. that if you want the audience to get involved in the story. to change. you could expect the art to change too. a film story isn't words on a page. Piece of the medium to handle. You give them just enough. And that's just a good way to break this up. and every new technology then. The choices that filmmakers make. That's what each of these film makers do. the test of any new technology in Hollywood is can it tell stories and move audiences. presents new tools to an artist. And then we'll watch it happen again with color. well as a an abstract story telling class. because the equipment is expensive. how can I make sound move and audience. As a film maker you have to make choices. but they're not just gifts. so because film's technological. right. sound. First how film makers figure out if sound can tell stories. So. you don't just tell them the story. as the machines change.good Hollywood filmmakers. Are the folks who make this possible. You leave at least half of the story untold. Can the new technology do that? Well we're going to watch that play out twice. You have to decide what to keep of the old style and what to. So the audience is part of the creation of. That's what it's giving to the audience. That's how Hollywood is selling tickets and making monies. and make this a historical class. this class. they ask you. And color. They create this structure that artists can use. one standard way of doing things to a new . we're looking at these tension points. You get them involved in the telling of the story. it is a world and a path to enter and follow. The viewer fills it in. this new. So. so it's Hollywood storytelling and it's divided into two units. is a technological enterp rise. we're looking at the coming of sound and the coming of color. do you want enter this world and then they help you follow that path through the film. of the story. Set of technologies. and large corporations. because film is. will change depending on what kind of machines they have available. But also new challenges. know this. They show a path. as where. How films get us to do that and the kinds of things they ask us to complete.

You know. and when you look at a pressure point like this. technology that we've been suddenly handed. new things to do with the technology. like a regular lecture And then you'll be assigned to go and watch a movie. often. and this is the class sturcture. you'll watch that like a. both for the artist and for the viewer. Box set. In between technological changes we have some stability. and this is something that we'll see about Hollywood storytelling in general. they find you know. So. That's the class. these are pressure points. And to film artists. When the filmmakers had to figure out. these are. What does it tells us about how we relate to cinema? So. And also let's just talk about the continuities. what are we going to do with this you know. roughly it'll work this way. as a history class and it gets you to watch cinema with new eyes because we're looking at these moments when cinema itself had to grow new eyes. you get insight into film. how does your experience of film change when you have sound as oppose to when it was all silent or when it is in color as oppose it was black and white. artists figure out ways to do things and they can get comfortable with the conventions but when sound comes and then when color comes it forces artists to be creative and it gives us a chance to see deeper into the art itself. So I designed a class that I hope should be easy for you to watch. and ways to make that technology do the things that they're used to doing. or saddled with. we're going to be covering and we'll do it in five weeks. That's the material we're. As soon as the technology comes on. and we'll see it twice here.set of technlogies. A burst of creativity and new problem solving. this class will tell us something about the nature of technological change in Hollywood. All of them are available for rental but some of them are more expensive than others and many of them are available on the internet. all these movies are available on DVD. or. Things get real interesting for artists. or given. like I said. streaming to in one way or another. The one film that might be little hard to find is Street Angel which is our first movie because it's available on a rather expensive DVD. And changes before and after technological change. and Hollywood filmmaking. if . You should be able to block these films fairly easily. they. I will give an introduction to a film and a topic.

you watch this film on your own and then you come back and I will give you a lecture analysis discussion of the film. welcome to it. but you should still come back for the lec ture. but it is available through. which is an introduction to silent film. I recommend using the. obviously. that's the one that's going to set you back. which is set up for this class and allows you to make connections and see who else is taking this class. I can't answer questions when they come up. using the course Sarah forum. I do recommend you try to see these films with other people whether they're enrolled in the class or not. for the next five weeks. introduce the next film and we'll be doing that. I will not be able to do some things I usually do in a class. You know. the forum. directly However. but watching them on your own is fine too. trying to answer them. when you're sitting alone staring at a computer screen. I haven't figured it out yet. through rental and other places. That's the class. when you're with an audience watching it in a. if you miss a film.you're buying the movies. you might not be able to see. introduce. We'll figure out a way of using that as some sort of conduit. A Street Angel. I'm. So that's that. So try to watch these things together. These are films that were made for audiences and they play differently with an audience. it's probably okay. and. . talking to a camera and trying to get my ideas across. your. comedies especially are less fun Funny. But I can't answer your emails either. in a proper space. I hope you enjoy these films and. So I introduce the film. I hope you stick around. you might be able to get in contact with another. and me. than they are. I will see you in a moment for our first lecture. for you asking the important questions and. you can ask questions on the forum and we'll use that as some sort. one another. if you can.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful