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Course Syllabus

FILM 2332.59M: UNDERSTANDING FILM


Summer 2008
Mondays and Wednesdays 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Jonsson Auditorium (JO 4.614)

Instructor: Kelly Kretschmar


Phone: 972-883-2170, 940-484-5805
Email: kretschmar@utdallas.edu
Email communication is encouraged
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays before class in JO 5.712
(appointments are required)

Course Description and Format

This course is designed to familiarize students with the history of film as a medium of
artistic and ideological expression and help them develop a vocabulary for discussing and
analyzing film texts in an informed, sophisticated, and meaningful way. Roughly six
weeks will be spent outlining the formal and stylistic elements of film as an art and
commercial mass medium (mise-en-scene, cinematography, narrative, editing, and
sound). The remainder of the course will be spent exploring the ways filmmakers
working in both Hollywood and international cinemas have employed these formal and
stylistic elements; this will involve an analysis of the meaning and theoretical basis of
film genre, European modes of production (including Italian Neo-Realism and the French
New Wave), and avant-garde and experimental filmmaking. Each class session will
consist of lecture, screenings of relevant clips and/or full-length films, and discussion of
readings and screenings. Students’ achievement of the learning objectives will be
assessed through two examinations that utilize multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank and/or
short answer responses as well as a written assignment.

Student Learning Objectives

To increase students’ understanding of how film is made, to help students develop visual
literacy and a vocabulary for analyzing films in terms of form and style, and to increase
students’ awareness of film as an art, mass medium, and cultural artifact.

Course Policies

Please note that in a summer course there is a significant amount of material to be


covered in very little time. We will utilize ALL of the class time allotted, but there will
be 15 to 30-minute breaks between lectures and screenings each night. Because this is
an evening class, students need to plan ahead with regard to meals/snacks. No eating
is permitted in class, but students may of course eat during the break.

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It is imperative that students keep up with all readings and screenings assigned outside
of class. Each individual class session represents one or two week's worth of work, so
there will be a sign-in sheet distributed in every class. Students who think they will
need to miss more than one class are encouraged to sign up for a different course.

Students are expected to attend all classes, to be punctual, attentive, and considerate, and
to keep up with the assignments listed on the syllabus. All required readings and full-
length screenings are to be completed outside of class before the regular class session.
For example, the readings and screenings listed for Class 2 should be completed before
the class meets for that session. Please note that there will be a great deal of material
to be read in order to “catch up” after Class 1, so please plan accordingly. Students
who must miss a class remain responsible for all course material covered in that class;
there are no make-up classes, and each class will only be taught once.

Cell phones should be turned off upon entering class. Use of laptops is permitted, but
with the warning that the display must be completely darkened or closed during
screenings of clips. Because clips will be shown intermittently throughout each class (i.e.
not all at the beginning or end), students may find it more convenient to take notes in a
notebook rather than on a laptop. If the use of laptops becomes disruptive to the
classroom environment, they will no longer be permitted.

Required Textbooks, Readings, and Screenings

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction, 8th edition (New
York: McGraw-Hill, 2008)

There will be a few additional reserve readings (RR) that will also be considered
required texts for the course. These readings are available as electronic reserves through
the library website. You will need to search by instructor name (Kretschmar) and enter
the password to access these readings. Write the password here: __________________

Some full-length screenings are to be completed outside of class, and they are considered
required texts. All are on reserve at the McDermott Library, but are available in a
number of other venues as well.

Grading Policy

Grades for this course will be calculated on the following basis:


Attendance 10%
Exam 1 30%
Exam 2 30%
Written Assignment 30%
No make-up exams will be given.

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COURSE CALENDAR

Class 1 (Mon. July 7) Course Mechanics and Introduction

Modes of Production and Reception


READING: Ch. 1, Ch. 2, 440-447, and 304-309

Narrative
READING: Chapter 3 and 388-392
OUT-OF-CLASS SCREENING: North by Northwest
(Alfred Hitchcock, 1959; 136 min.)

Class 2 (Wed. July 9) Visual Design (Mise-en-Scene)


READING: Chapter 4 (112-153 only) and 392-396
IN-CLASS SCREENING: Ed Wood (Tim Burton,
1994; 127 min.)

Class 3 (Mon. July 14) Cinematography


READING: Chapter 5 and 309-315
IN-CLASS SCREENING: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles,
1941; 119 min.)
OUT-OF-CLASS SCREENING: Do the Right Thing
(Spike Lee, 1989; 120 min.)

Class 4 (Wed. July 16) Editing (Montage)


READING: Chapter 6 and 453-456
IN-CLASS SCREENING: The Graduate (Mike Nichols,
1967; 105 min.)

Class 5 (Mon. July 21) EXAM 1 (begins at 5:30 p.m.)

Sound and Sound Design


READING: Chapter 7 and 456-459
OUT-OF-CLASS SCREENING: Singin’ in the Rain
(Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952; 103 min.)

Class 6 (Wed. July 23) Film Genres and Genre Criticism


READING: Chapter 9 RR Thomas Schatz “Film Genres
and Genre Films”
IN-CLASS SCREENING: Night of the Living Dead
(George Romero, 1968; 97 min.)

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Class 7 (Mon. July 28) Beyond Hollywood: International Film Movements
READING: Chapter 12 (447-456 and 459-463 only) and
397-401
IN-CLASS SCREENING: The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De
Sica, 1948; 90 min.)
OUT-OF-CLASS SCREENING: The 400 Blows (Francois
Truffaut, 1959; 97 min.)

Class 8 (Wed. July 30) Written Assignments are Due!!!

Beyond Hollywood: Avant-Garde and Experimental


Filmmaking
READING: Chapter 10 (355-370 only) RR Maya Deren
“An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film” (sections
1C, 2C, and 3C only)
IN-CLASS SCREENING: Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio,
1983; 87 min)

Class 9 (Mon. August 4) New Hollywood


READING: Chapter 12 (463-468 only) RR Thomas Schatz
“The New Hollywood”
OUT-OF-CLASS SCREENING: MASH (Robert Altman,
1970; 116 min.)

EXAM 2 Monday, August 11 (begins at 5:30 p.m.)

Syllabus subject to change, but not without notice

Please note that the Rules on Student Services and Activities of the University of Texas
System will be strictly adhered to. For information on the administration’s rules and
policies regarding student conduct and discipline, academic integrity, e-mail use,
withdrawal from class, student grievance procedures, incomplete grade policies,
disability services, and religious holy days, consult the material, generated by the
administration, available in the university catalogue.

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