Interpretation of Film

Film was the dominant medium of the last century and yet we have only begun to understand it, especially in the post-celluloid period of digital and convergent screen cultures. What is the “language” of cinema? What are the elements of style through which films communicate? What are the audiovisual literacy skills necessary to “read” those elements within an aesthetic system? In this course, we will approach these broad but fundamental questions to the interpretation of films as texts. Based in close analysis, the course begins with the formal compositions of cinema, introducing you to techniques of mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. We will then move to contexts that organize cinematic meaning, such as narrative, genre, stardom, and marketing. Further, we will consider film authorship through issues of identity, difference, representation, globalization, and cinema’s relationship to other media. The course includes films from a range of traditions, including studio filmmaking in the Classical Hollywood era, independent and international art-house cinemas, documentary, the avant-garde, and the Hollywood blockbuster.