Film Analysis and Methods
This course is an introduction to the analysis of film as both a textual practice and a cultural practice. We will examine a variety of films—from Fritz Lang's M (1931) to Julia Dash's Daughters of the Dust (1991)--in order to demonstrate the tools and skills of "close reading." We will concentrate on those specifically filmic features of the movies, such as mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound strategies, as well as those larger organizational forms, such as narrative and non-narrative structures and movie genres. Because our responses to the movies always extend beyond the film frame, we will additionally do "close readings" of the complex business of film distribution, promotion, and exhibition to show how the less visible machinery of the movie business also shapes our understanding and enjoyment of particular films. Along the way, we will discuss some of the most influential and productive critical schools of thought informing film analysis today, including realism, auteurism, feminism, postmodernism, and others.