I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s

Su b je c t: F i l m S t ud i e s

L e s so n : I n tr o d u c ti o n to F i l m S t ud i e s

C o ur se De v e l o p e r : Ni r ma l y a Sa m a n ta

C o l l e g e / De p a r tme n t : R a m a n u ja n C o l l e g e ,
U n i v e r si ty o f De l hi

Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Delhi 1

I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s C O NT E NT S : 1 SCOPE 2 FILM STUDIES: AN A CADEMIC DISCIPLINE 3 INTRODUCTION 4 LESSONS: A BRIEF SUMMARY 5 FILM STUDIES: THE EA RLY CHRONOLOGY 6 IMPORTANT FILMS Institute of Lifelong Learning. University of Delhi 2 .

Film Genre and Issues of Form 8. History of World Cinema 5. University of Delhi. Questions and Quizzes Institute of Lifelong Learning. Film Movements 7. Genders. 1. lessons have been developed on the following topics. The Language of Cinema 3. which is a relatively new but an exciting academic discipline. University of Delhi 3 . The lesson briefly touches upon the important aspects of the course and also explores the value and importance of the study of such a course at the present moment. Based on the BA Programme IIIrd year Application Course on Film Studies. Strategies of Reading Film Texts 4. Documentary Films 9. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s Title of the Unit: ‘WHAT IS FILM STUDIES?’ Scope: This introductory lesson of the BA Programme IIIrd year Application Course on Film Studies (University of Delhi) acquaints the student with the domain of Film Studies. Introduction: What is Film Studies? 2. History of Indian Cinema 6. Sexuality and Cinema 12. Cinema Technology and Reception 11. Themes in Contemporary Indian Cinema 10.

distribution and reception of films. When we watch a film our notions and beliefs about family. psychology and linguistics. nation. When seeing a movie if we ask ourselves the following questions it may help us to comprehend the essential contents of what constitutes `film studies’ 1. Drawing from history. If we are watching a well-made film. The `reading’ of films began with the theoretical assertion that films reflect or recreate reality in exact terms but what is seen assumes meaning by the way it is being shown and seen. In that sense the film becomes a text. Many ideas. sociology. More and more countries are investing in the creation of infrastructure that will felicitate the production and distribution of cinema. and the world are played out before us. With the explosion of the electronic media. both these experiences are emotionally and intellectually stimulating. What ideas are being questioned and which are the ideas that are being reinforced by what I am seeing? In order to answer the above questions we need to learn how to `read’ films. society. Reading would mean an interrelated understanding of the conception. culture studies and the various critical theories in different disciplines of social sciences. In many ways cinema reflects the way we think and often our thinking is influenced by what we see through the medium of films. What is it that we are seeing? 2. history and culture. Perhaps that is what we mean when we say we have `enjoyed’ the film. the course has been introduced at the undergraduate BA Programme level as an optional Application Paper in the III year. production and reception of a film. production. thoughts and dimensions of the human experience are represented in the films that we see. thoughts and feelings are being generated in me when I see a particular scene/particular film? 6. How is it being shown? 3. Sometimes the film may reinforce our ideas and sometimes the films challenge and force us to rethink about the beliefs we harbour. politics. Cinema is a modern mode of human expression that comprises the conception. At the University of Delhi. The critical discourse of Films Studies is essentially interdisciplinary. Who is showing it? 4. culture. What kind of emotions. Institute of Lifelong Learning. psychology. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s FILM STUDIES: AN ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE Film Studies is one of the newly emerging disciplines in the Indian academy. the middle class homes in our cities are today inundated with visual images on a 24x7 basis. Films or movies are the tangible end products of the cinema industry. Many aspects of our life and society are visualized and represented in the films that we see. Who else has possibly seen this? 5. literature. aesthetics. Cinema forms a major portion of what is being offered on the many channels that we keep surfing on our television sets. Film Studies is an exciting as well as challenging discipline that looks at the history of cinema and engages with the `reading’ of films as text within the contexts of society. Cinema today is probably one of the most powerful cultural mediums that reach out to millions of people across the world. Some Universities like the Jadavpur University in Kolkata offer this course at the undergraduate honours and the post graduate level and also conducts PhD research programmes. University of Delhi 4 . This text is understood through the prisms of history.

set designing. and other Asian countries. Advertising 6. Professional theatre 7. the lights. The words cinema. strange to think that one can `study’ films. the special effects etc. University of Delhi 5 . which are generally. In the study of films we not only discuss American. China. Journalism 5. sound editing. 1. In our country. the projection. But these meanings are interchangeable. its historicity and its location within socio cultural contexts. post modernity. it means we approach the subject in an organized academic manner. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s Film studies courses deal with issues like nationalism. The word `Movies’ suggests the commercial and consumable aspects of the phenomenon. The films from these countries have distinct cultural and narrative patterns. The camera. We can study a film by engaging with the technical aspects of it that are essential in its production. 2. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. considered either a mode of entertainment or an audiovisual medium of instruction and education. some of which are technical and some academic. costume designing. The course is conducted with the help of film studies scholars. radio and television and the internet. culture specialists and members of the film making fraternity. cinema or movies we mean all the three except when we specifically define it in a particular manner. INTRODUCTION When we study something. Each aspect has its own history and evolution. Academics and research. action/dance choreographing and managing lights. Today there are a large number of academics engaged in film studies both in India and abroad. whereas the cinematic deals with the aesthetic and formalist aspects of the art. in universities where this discipline has been introduced there is an attempt to create an indigenous notion of Film Studies so that it may be related to our present historical context. post coloniality. film studies is located within the larger contemporary theoretical and historical research in media forms such as newspaper. localism and globalization. European and Indian cinema. There are two ways to study a film. modernity. What are the careers options available to a student of Film Studies? After doing a course in Film Studies. we also study films made in Latin American countries. In these lessons when we use the words film. therefore. Over the years changing technology has determined the manner in which a filmmaker is able to express a theme or an idea. Since Film Studies and Media Studies share a lot of common ground. 3. Japan. Institute of Lifelong Learning. Filmmaking. There is also available a very large body of academic study material in the form of books and journals that are available in university and college libraries. film and movies are not really synonymous. the sounds. one can specialize in a number of fields that are related to films. cinematography. It may seem. Printing and publishing. film editing. They are interrelated. the sets. The movie camera used today is a highly evolved machine that had its origins in a much simpler apparatus invented about a hundred and fifty years ago. Films or the `filmic’ suggests the relationship of the medium of the film with the world around it. The electronic media 4. The other way to study a film is to analyze its theme. music composing.

Though it is a new form of expression it emerges out of and has very close relations with all the other forms of human creativity like painting. 1888 in Roundhay. Initially human beings creatively expressed themselves through painting.org/wiki/File:Le-prince-type-1-cine-camera-projector-mk2-1888- interior. West Yorkshire. Human beings have also expressed their thoughts and feelings through dance. and nature. This desire to recapture a moment from life so that its emotions may be experienced again and again made the human search for many modes of creative expression. University of Delhi 6 . They are just about a little more than a hundred years old. initially in form of drawings and pictures later in the form of the written word. Roundhay Garden Scene. birds. Leeds. one can mark out chronologically the points in time the evolution of human creative expressions.wikipedia.png) But why study films at all? From the very beginning of civilization human beings have expressed themselves creatively. http://en. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s The film. For many thousand years of Institute of Lifelong Learning. 15000 years ago. music and architecture and later with the invention of language human expressed also through the written and spoken words. dance. The desire was to capture permanently a moment from their experience in life as a visual image. of animals. music. dance.org/wiki/Cave_of_Altamira Human being recreated on the walls and ceiling of caves images that they saw around them. etched or carved out on the walls of caves which were their homes. England is recognized as the earliest surviving motion picture . One of the first expressions of human civilization is a creative impulse seen in the form of drawings and paintings that primitive men sketched. humans. Cave painting at Altamira. which are also known as the performative arts. by Louis Le Prince on October 14. Spain. drama and music.wikipedia. (http://en. Historically. Films are the most modern of all these endeavours. architecture and science and literature.

He uses colours and textures to create a mood and gives http://photo.sulekha. the pictorial and the literary would constitute the two major mediums of human expression. what dress she was wearing and the place that she was exiled in. The painting is titled as `Sita’s Vanvaas’ (Sita’s exile). When we see a painting we can create a story out of it. from Sita. Sometimes a moment of a story is made into a painting.com/raja-ravi-varma-painting-print-sita-vanavasa-variant-34- cm-x-26-5-cm_deal-offer_13204 The above is a painting by the famous Indian artist Raja Ravi Verma (April 29. When we read a story we can visualize the characters and the events in the eye of our mind with our imagination. Sita Vanavasa. There is a relationship between the pictorial and the literary. The artist imagines how Sita must have looked. Ramayan play. Institute of Lifelong Learning. If we took the photograph of Sita in a theatre where Ramayana was being performed we would have a different image. The photograph is of the woman who plays the role of Sita in the theatrical representation. (photographer: Vrindavan Lila. Description of Sita’s exile is one of the high points of the narrative in the epic poem Ramayana. We can see that the artist is trying to make a `realistic’ representation of the scene. University of Delhi 7 . A more realistic representation of the scene would be through photography where Sita would be enacted by a real human being and photographed. By studying them we can understand how the human civilization has worked. The picture is often telling a story just as words often try to describe a picture. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s the human civilization. It is the artist’s visualization of a particular scene from the epic `Ramayana’. 1906). 1848- October 2. The pictorial and the literary expressions are footprints in time. by Raja Ravi Verma http://giftstoindia. Mayapur from a certain expression to Sita’s face.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=10022710 The above photograph is from a theatrical representation of Ramayana.

Mise-en-scene consists of all those visual aspects that Institute of Lifelong Learning. what we sometimes dream. While learning about the language of cinema we look into the history of photography from the early black and white still daguerreotype to the modern moving digital images. The images on the silver screen in front of us seems real but we know they are not real. the writer through words. They are just projections. music. We also need to know the development of the technology of camera. The moving images that we see projected in the cinema screen seems almost real but we know it is not. This French term literally means `having put into the scene’. A filmmaker uses this language to construct a film in much the same way as a writer uses words and punctuations to create literature. We can only conjecture. This approximation of reality that films are able to achieve is what makes this medium so very captivating. There is something magical about seeing a moving image. The experience makes a deep impact. The screen becomes an extension of our mind. paragraphs and stanzas. our anxieties and our joys are played out in front of us and we become for a period of time totally engrossed in the projected world of the film. sentences. University of Delhi 8 . to create various kinds of prose. our desires and our hopes. A viewer is actually transported into the world that is being projected. In the dark cinema hall. That is why when we go to see a film we often say we are going to the `movies’. syntax and organization in the way writers use words to form phrases. Just as there is grammar. accompanied by sound. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s Both Ravi Verma’s painting and the photograph from the theatre have static images of Sita. similarly filmmakers also break established rules and create new rules in order to express their ideas effectively. the magic of the moving images. and drama. The filmmaker uses visuals. poetry. what we imagine. The filmmaker consciously puts together various components of the `language of cinema’ to create an understandable audio-visual statement. the student of film studies also needs to have an insight into the process of filmmaking to fully grasp the multiple layers of meaning in cinema Sometimes writers’ need to breaks rules of grammar and usage because the subject demands such a treatment. the viewers become part of a community of individuals setting out on a journey. sounds. The artist expresses through the language of drawings and colours. We see her in a dynamic form. LESSONS: A BRIEF SURVEY The Language of Cinema In order to express. Sita is picturised as a moving image. Along with a critical and theoretical understanding of the socio-political and cultural aspects of cinema. sets. form the `language of cinema’. editing and graphics to express his art. all our fantasies. The student of cinema unravels this language in order to understand how meaning is created in cinema. The components that make up a movie. from the still camera to the movie camera and the projection system without which a movie is not possible. What we see in our daily lives. The darkness. we need a language. effects recreates a real world that one is transported to. costumes. individually as well as collectively. The viewer is made to imagine what Sita would be doing after the moment in the image. An essential aspect of the language of cinema is mise-en-scene. our fears. our nightmares. the film maker also uses the `language of cinema’ to create various types of movies. The word movie is derived fro the word `move’. Seeing a film is experiential. Movement. It is as if Sita is frozen in time. But in the film Sampoorna Ramayana (1961) directed by Babubhai Mistri.

props. The camera. (photography. As the camera became more sophisticated with technological development. the filmmakers began to adapt novels and thus began a close relationship between novel/short story writing and filmmaking. The amazing nature of a cinematic experience arises out of the manner in which the film maker is able to connect the various images the camera is able to capture in order to narrate a story. The editor decides on the length of each shot and the manner of transition from one shot to another. there is also a sound editor who decides how and where sound needs to be introduced. This is what editing is all about. are fundamentally connected to the camera and the manner in which the filmmaker is able to exploit the many things that the camera is able to do. The history of World cinema would not only include the study of the technological evolution that made cinema possible but also the early influences of theatre and other performing and non performing art forms that influenced film making. music hall etc) Between 1896 and 1912 short films were made and projected to a paying audience only to experience the thrill of a newly invented form of entertainment. contributing to the generation of aesthetically rich film language. This was also the time that television made its appearance and confronted and challenged cinema. fashion. The art of cinema. pantomime. University of Delhi 9 . its essential quality. The sound editor also decides on the `silences’ within the film. lighting and camera movements. costumes. Just as there is a film editor. The dynamic interrelationship as well as the competitiveness between television and cinema continues till this date. its capabilities increased which films makers exploited to their advantage. They developed new approaches. its position and movements are integral to the language of cinema. performance and movement. its expressions. Between 1913 and 1927 full length feature films in the form of narration of a story evolved but these films were silent. Once shots have been taken there arises the need to join them up to make a coherent audio- visual narrative. The star provided the crucial links between cinema. For story. food and life style and made great cultural impact particularly among the urban viewers. In the years that followed the great economic depression in the West. So big budget films with elaborate sets were made and films actors became stars. and around the time of the Second World War. East Europe and Latin America experimenting with the form. The film industry needed to adjust and reinvent itself to combat the new media challenge. History of World cinema The history of cinema spans a little more than a century. History of Indian Cinema Institute of Lifelong Learning. With the coming of sound and further technological improvements filmmaking became an industry and generated huge profits particularly in Hollywood. painting. The audience saw the Lumiere Brother’s short films and were thrilled to see the verisimilitude of reality in the moving images that were projected on screen. yet it is a very exciting history because cinema makes a dramatic and phenomenal impact on the culture of a society. film making saw great expansion and cinema became international with many film makers from Asia. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s appear within a single shot and would include the sets. Africa. The fast paced technological developments of the twentieth century were a catalyst to film production and distribution and helped in its spread and influence right across the world.

film makers have been infuenced by certain specific ideas and concerns and made films based on those convictions. theories about the structure of language and linguistics and theories about art and aesthetics have all impacted film studies. The film industry in India is a multi million rupee industry and employs thousands of people. University of Delhi 10 . Film Genre and Issues of Form Films may be categorized by their essential form. For example. western. and human psychology. In India we not only make films for our own audiences but also export our films to different countries. history. The genre often determines the style of filmmaking. Each of the genres has a history of its evolution. These theories are tools in the hands of academics that help them to unravel the many dimensions of a film that may not be apparent when one is watching it just as a form of entertainment. Formalism as a theory help the development of the Soviet film movement. Though Mumbai is the hub of this industry. To think that this industry is just about a hundred year old its expansion is really remarkable. Institute of Lifelong Learning. German expressionism. The categories are not water tight. but Chennai. The categories are called genres. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s India is today the largest producer of films in the world. French new wave and the new Indian cinema. thriller. Kolkata and many other cities in the country spin out many films every year. Film movements can be seen as an offshoot of larger cultural and social movements and are generally a departure from the traditional film making of the time. For example. The major film movements that have been identified are the Russian formalism. but understanding the film from a particular category type helps in understanding how the film differs from others and also from the ones within its own genre. Thiruvananthapuram. Italian neo realism had a profound effect on many film makers in India in the 1950’s. They used the medium of cinema to creatively express a common concern. We have come a long way from the time that Dada Saheb Phalke made the first feature film (silent) Raja Harishchandra (1913). detective. about gender and feminism. Strategies of Reading Film Texts This lesson looks at some of the important theories that are used to study and analyze films and film language. When we study these films and the film makers as a group we say we are studying a `film movement’. In fact the popularity of Indian films abroad have made producers make films specially targeting a worldwide audience. Each of these movement have produced dintinct film makers who can be identified by the uniquenss of thier style of film making. Theories regarding cultural productions in society its reception at different points of time. They make bold statements in the manner in which they communicate to the audience and force a relook into accepted ways of understanding the society and the world. gangster and such other categories. theories about human society. Film Movements When we study the history of cinema we find that at various points of time and at various places. Hyderabad. children. Theories concerning the nature of film as a cultural production have given impetus to film movements and inspired experimentation and innovation by film directors who went on to make unique films. Films are known by the genres as films of romance. The film movement of one country or region have often influenced film makers of other countries. Italian neorealism . melodrama.

is a later development in the history of cinema. politics. wild life. The range of subjects that the documentary engages in is very wide. it was not considered a subject of intellectual and scholarly discussions in India. underworld. The documentary film is distinct from the feature film. The first films ever made by Lumiere Brothers were documentaries. Institute of Lifelong Learning. geography. The student of film studies is interested in the manner the film maker conveys the subject of the documentary and how there is a certain point of view in the way the narrative of the documentary is structured. education and politics. News. The feature film. tradition and modernity. so on and so forth in contemporary popular Indian cinema to the students. Documentaries may be directly instructional. history. all are subjects of various documentary films making. until recently. emotionally evocative or simply a vehicle carrying information and news. nature. culture. it also investigates how all these contemporary issues have been approached and presented in the films released after the year 2000. University of Delhi 11 . Besides. Documentary Themes in Contemporary Indian Cinema Though popular Indian cinema has been presenting the socio-cultural-politico milieu of India for almost a century. historical and political themes such as globalization. The present chapter or lesson aims at interrogating how contemporary popular Indian cinema engages with the socio-cultural-politico milieu of today. cultural. youth. However. Thanks to the emergence of film and cultural studies in academia in India and abroad (especially in the departments of cinema and comparative studies in North American Universities) ‘the most popular of the popular arts’ in India has finally been considered as an important source to understand the society and culture of India. queer culture. Over the years the documentary has evolved into an independent form of cinematic expression. society and culture. nation and nationalism. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s Documentary Films When film language is used to `document’ something we can say a documentary film is being made. politically provocative. gender. tourism and travel. It introduces differing social. the attitude of scholars and intelligentsia seems to have changed towards the popular Indian cinema in the past couple of decades. terrorism.

1839 Daguerreotype photography arrives. historian and scientist Ptolemy discovers the phenomenon of `persistence of vision’ in the ancient capital city of Alexandria. thinker. developed by Louis Daguerre. daguerreotype is a direct photographic process without the capacity for duplication. but the mirrored surface of the metal plate reflects the image and makes it appear positive in proper light. an ancient (180 AD) invention by Chinese inventor Ting Huan is patented. 1700 ADs - 1800 Ads With the development of widespread literacy there is rise of news papers and journals through out Europe and the beginnings of the mass culture of books. In later developments bromine and chlorine vapors were also used. 1456 AD First books to be printed with the movable type. Beginning of long distance electronic transference of messages. Thus. 1834 AD Zeotrope . magazines and newspapers. The daguerreotype is a negative image. Leon Battista Alberti invents the forerunner of camera obscura. While the daguerreotype was not the first photographic process to be invented. University of Delhi 12 . in which the image is exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver bearing a coating of silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor. resulting in shorter exposure times. The daguerreotype (original French: daguerréotype) is an early type of photograph. (from the Wikipedia) Institute of Lifelong Learning. a device that produces an illusion of movement due to rapid succession of static pictures. philosopher. 1844 AD Morse’ telegraph. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s FILM STUDIES: THE EARLY CHRONOLOGY PREHISTORY: 130 BC: Greek. 1250 AD The beginning of European Renaissance. earlier processes required hours for successful exposure. which made daguerreotype the first commercially viable photographic process and the first to permanently record and fix an image with exposure time compatible with portrait photography.

In America. eventually. film movement. an innovative motion picture camera with rapid intermittent. The invention of photography enabled the inexpensive creation and reproduction of slides. they eventually fell out of favour after the invention of moving pictures. (From Wikipedia) 1884 Photographic roll paper introduced by Eastman 1889 Eastman introduces flexible roll film medium for photography. Dickson and his team at the Edison lab also devised the Kinetograph. Paris. or stop-and-go. University of Delhi 13 . and the few surviving lanterns and slides are sought-after collector's items.S. Posed photographs were sold in series. inventor Thomas Edison in 1888. and personages. Slide shows would feature famous landmarks. Institute of Lifelong Learning. Though there was a huge market for these lanterns and slides in the 19th century. Though not a movie projector—it was designed for films to be viewed individually through the window of a cabinet housing its components—the Kinetoscope introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic projection before the advent of video: it creates the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. I n tr o d u c t i o n to F i l m St ud i e s 1850 Photographic magic lantern comes into use. to photograph movies for in-house experiments and. the Biograph Company and the American Mutoscope Company founded. The Kinetoscope is an early motion picture exhibition device. foreign lands. telling uplifting stories and moral tales. The magic lantern or Lanterna Magica was the ancestor of the modern slide projector. Lumiere Brothers first public showing of Cinematographe films at Grand Café. 1891 Development of Kinetoscope. commercial Kinetoscope presentations. it was largely developed by his employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickson between 1889 and 1892. (from Wikipedia) 1895 December 28. First described in conceptual terms by U. and thereby greatly expanded the repertoire of available images.