INTRODUCTION TO FILM
ARTH 20000, ENGL 10800, ARTV 25300
Lectures: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-2:50 pm, Cobb 307
Screening: Tuesdays 3:30-6:30 pm, Cobb 307
Instructor: Ling Zhang
Office Hours: Monday 3:00 pm-4:00 pm in Cobb Cafe or by appointment
Description: This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis via examples from different national cinemas, historical time periods, genres, and directorial oeuvres. Along with a primary emphasis on film technique and style, we also consider the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, distribution, exhibition, social and aesthetic norms and codes, as well as particular modes of reception. Films discussed include works by Alfred Hitchcock, Sergei Eisenstein, Roberto Rossellini, Joris Ivens, Tsai Ming-liang, Chris Marker, among others.
Texts: Available at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 9th Edition (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2010). [referred to as BT below] Other assigned readings are available at chalk.uchicago.edu (ch).
Requirements: Three short papers, in-class film vocabulary quiz, chalkboard writing assignment, and attendance. Lectures, readings, screenings, and discussions are essential components of the course. Attendance at all screenings is mandatory. More than three unexcused absences will adversely affect your grade. Films are meant to be seen in a public venue, among a heterogeneous audience, in the dark, projected on a screen in front of the spectator. All of the films are available in the Film Studies Center on DVD or VHS for repeat viewings. You are encouraged to watch all of these films more than once, and to maintain an informal viewing journal with notes and commentary on each film. Attendance will be taken at each screening.
You can use laptop to take notes if it is more convenient, but you are strongly discouraged from using it to surf the internet in class.
Assignments and Grades
Attendance and Participation (10%)
Chalk Response and Discussion (10%)
Film Vocabulary Quiz in class (10%)
Shot Analysis (1-2 pages) (20%)
Sequence Analysis (3-4 pages) (20%)
Final Paper (5-6 pages) (30%)
Film Venues in Chicago:
On campus: Doc Films, Film Studies Center (Cobb 307)
In the city: Gene Siskel Film Center, Music Box Theater, Facets.
Week 1: Introduction
Monday, March 26 Film Language as Expressive Form
- Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1960, 109 min.) (35mm)
- La glace à trois faces [The Three-Sided Mirror] (Jean Epstein, France, 1927, 37 min.) (dvd.)
Wednesday, March 28 Film Industry: Production, Distribution, Exhibition
- B & T Chapter 1: film production, distribution, and exhibition
- B & T Chapter 2: The Significance of Film Form
- Jean Epstein, “Magnification,” 235-241 or: "The Senses I (b)"  241-245
- Linda Williams, “Discipline and Fun: Psycho and Postmodern Cinema,” 351-378
- The Metafictional Hitchcock: The Experience of Viewing and the Viewing of Experience in "Rear Window" and "Psycho". R. Barton Palmer. Cinema Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Winter, 1986), pp. 4-19
- Jean Epstein's Cinema of Immanence: The Rehabilitation of the Corporeal Eye. Malcolm Turvey. October, Vol. 83, (Winter, 1998), pp. 25-50
- Epstein, “On Photogenie”
Week 2: The Shot: Mise en Scène
Monday, April 2: Dynamics and Composition
- Ingeborg Holm (aka. Margaret Day or Give Us This Day, Sweden, 1913, 96 min. (dvd)
- The Color of Pomegranates, Sergei Parajanov, USSR, 1969, 79 min.) (dvd)
Wednesday, April 4. The World in a Shot: Pro-filmic and framed elements
- B& T Chapter 4, “The Shot: Mise-en-Scene”
- Tom Gunning, “Notes and Queries about the Year 1913 and Film Style: National Styles and Deep Staging,” 1895, special issue: “L’année 1913 en France” (1993).
- PARAJANOV'S PLAYFUL POETICS: ON THE 'DIRECTOR'S CUT' OF THE COLOR OF POMEGRANATES, JAMES STEFFEN. Journal of Film and Video, Vol. 47, No. 4, International Film and Television (Winter 1995-96), pp. 17-32
- Andre Bazin, “The Evolution of the Language of Cinema”
- Tom Gunning, “The Cinema of Attraction”
- Levon Hm. Abrahamian, “Toward a Poetics of Parajanov's Cinema”
- Giorgi Gvakharia Sergei Parajanov's Ecumenical Vision
Week 3: Cinematography/Camera Movement
Monday, April 9. Depth, scale, focus, duration
- 残菊物語[The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum] (Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 1939, 142 min.) (35mm)
Wednesday, April 11. Camera Movement as Style: Time and Space
- Alexandre Astruc, “What is Mise-en-scène?” from Cahier du Cinema.
- Chika Kinoshita, Floating Sound: Sound and image in "The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum", in James Quandt, Gerald O'Grady (a cura di), Mizoguchi the Master, Cinematheque Ontario-The Japan Foundation, Toronto, 1996, pp. 45-47.
- Maya Deren. “Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality.” in Film theory and criticism: introductory readings / edited by Leo Braudy, Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
- Tom Gunning, “Unseen Energy”
Web on camera movement: http://www.16-9.dk/2009-02/side11_inenglish.htm
Week 4: Editing I
Monday, April 16: Juxtaposing Images and Times
(in-class) The Lonedale Operator (D.W. Griffith, USA, 1911, 17 min, 16mm)
- His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, USA, 1940, 92 min.) (dvd.)
- Stella Dallas (King Vidor, USA, 1937, 106 min.) (35mm)
Wednesday, April 18: Hollywood Editing: Space, Time, Character and Narrative
- For Monday: Raymond Bellour, “To Alternate/ To Narrate (on The Lonedale Operator)
- B & T Chapter 6: The Relation of Shot to Shot: Editing (section on continuity)
- B & T on His Girl Friday.
- Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”
- Chapter 4, “The Conversion to Sound and the Classical Hollywood Film: Howard Hawks's His Girl Friday”, in Marilyn Fabe, Closely watched films: an introduction to the art of narrative film technique . Berkeley: University of California Press, c2004.
- E. Ann Kaplan, “The Case of the Missing Mother: Maternal Issues in Vidor's Stella Dallas”
- James Walters, “Making Light of the Dark: Understanding the World of His Girl Friday”
Week 5: Editing as Style: Montage and Other Alternatives
Monday: April 23. Editing as Discontinuity: Rhythm and Transformation
- Battleship Potemkin] (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925, 75 min.) (dvd.)
- La Jetée (Chris Marker, France, 1962, 28 min.) (dvd.)
Wednesday: April 25 Editing as Meaning: Intellectual Montage
- BT Chapter 6: “The Relation of Shot to Shot: Editing,” Alternatives to Continuity Editing
- Sergei Eisenstein, “A Dialectical Approach to Film Form” or “Methods of Montage”?
- Chapter 2, “The Art of Montage: Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin”, in Marilyn Fabe, Closely watched films: an introduction to the art of narrative film technique. Berkeley: University of California Press, c2004.
- Chapter 12. “In the Spiral of Time: Memory, Temporality, and Subjectivity in Chris Marker's La Jetee”. Jon Kear, in Phototextualities: intersections of photography and narrative / edited by Alex Hughes and Andrea Noble. (Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c2003.)
- Paul Sandro, “Singled out by history: La Jetée and the aesthetics of memory”
Week 6: Sound
Monday, April 30. Definition of Sound in Film
- Symphony of the Don Basin] (Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1931, 67 min.) (dvd.)
- The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1974, 113 min.) (dvd)
Wednesday: May 2 Sound Design and Style
- BT Chapter 7 : “Sound in the Cinema,” pp. 269-311
- Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Alexandrov, “A Statement on Sound.”
- Lucy Fischer, "Enthusiasm": From Kino-Eye to Radio-Eye”, Film Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Winter, 1977-1978), pp. 25-34
- Altman “Material Heterogeneity”, “Soundspace”
- Bulgakowa, Oksana, and David Bordwell. “The Ear Against the Eye: Vertov’s ‘Symphony’ [with Response].” Monatshefte 98, no. 2 (July 1, 2006): 219–243.
- Rick Altman, “Moving Lips: Cinema as Ventriloquism”
- Vertov “Radio-Eye”
- Dennis Turner, “The Subject of The Conversation”
May 4th, special film event: Friday night, 7:00p.m. FSC (Cobb 307), Tibetan film The Silent Holy Stones and Q & A with filmmaker Pema Tseden.
Week 7: Narrative
Monday, May 7. Story and Plot
- Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] (Agnès Varda, France & Italy, 1962, 90 min.) (dvd.)
- Germania anno zero [Germany Year Zero] (Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1948, 78 min.) (dvd.)
Wednesday, May 9. Modernist Narration, Time, Space, and Structure
- BT Chapter 3: Narrative as a Formal System,” pp.104-116.
- André Bazin, “Germany Year Zero,” Bazin at Work: Major Essays and Reviews from the Forties and Fifties, ed. and trans. Bert Cardullo (NY: Routledge, 1997), 121-124.
- Peter Brunette. “Rossellini and Cinematic Realism.” Cinema Journal, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 34-49-
- Janice Mouton, “From Feminine Masquerade to Flâneuse: Agnès Varda's Cléo in the City,” Cinema Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Winter, 2001), pp. 3-16
- Bíró, Yvette, and Catherine Portuges. “Caryatids of Time: Temporality in the Cinema of Agnès Varda.” Performing Arts Journal 19, no. 3 (1997): 1–10.
- Quart, Barbara, and Agnes Varda. “Agnes Varda: A Conversation.” Film Quarterly 40, no. 2 (December 1, 1986): 3–10.
- Jaimey Fisher, “The Figure of the Child in Italian Neorealism and the German Rubble-Film”, Italian Neorealism and Global Cinema, ed. Laura E. Ruberto and Kristi M. Wilson, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2007, p. 33.
Week 8: Genre/Stardom/Auteur
Monday, May 14. Definition, Variety and Fusion of Genre
- 殺しの烙印/Koroshi no rakuin [Branded to Kill] (Suzuki Seijun, Japan, 1967, 98 min.) (dvd.)
- 洞/Dong [The Hole] (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan & France, 1998, 95 min./Taiwan: 69 min.)(dvd.)
Wednesday, May 16. Gangster, Musical, and Auteur
- BT Chapter 4: “Film Genres,” pp.327-348
- Rick Altman, “Cinema and Genre.”
- James Naremore, “Authorship,” 9-24
- Richard Dyer, “Stars as a Social Phenomenon,” 6-37
- Tsai Ming-liang: Trapped in the Past, in Michael Berry, Speaking in images: interviews with contemporary Chinese Filmmakers. New York: Columbia University Press, c2005.
- Daisuke Miyao, “Dark Visions of Japanese Film Noir: Suzuki Seijun’s Branded to Kill (1967).”
- Rick Altman, “The Musical”
- Richard Dyer, “Entertainment and Utopia”
- Berry Langford, “Who Needs Genres?” in Film Genre: Hollywood and Beyond. Edinburgh: dinburgh University Press, 2005.
- Ho, Sam. "The Songstress, The Farmer's Daughter, The Mambo Girl, and the Songstress Again"
- Ho, Sam. "Excerpts from an interview with Ge Lan"
Week 9: Experimental/Avant-Garde/Non-Fiction Cinema
Monday, May 21 Experimentation and Non-Fiction
- Une histoire de vent [A Tale of the Wind] (Joris Ivens, France, UK, West Germany, Netherlands, 1988, 80 min.) (dvd.)
- Terra em Transe (Glauber Rocha, Brazil, 1967, 106min) (dvd.)
Wednesday, May 23. Third World Cinema
- BT Chapter 10, “Documentary, Experimental, and Animated Films,”
- Bill Nichols, “Documentary Film and the Modernist Avant-Garde.” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer, 2001), pp. 580-610
- Lisa Shaw and Stepanie Dennison. “Cinema novo at its best: Vidas secas and Glauber Rocha,” in Brazilian National Cinema. (London; New York : Routledge, 2007.)
- The Way to Make a Future: A Conversation with Glauber Rocha. Gordon Hitchens, Glauber Rocha. Film Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Autumn, 1970), pp. 27-30
- Towards a Third Cinema, by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino
- The New South American Cinema: From Neo-Realism to Expressive Realism. Concetta Carestia Greenfield. Latin American Literary Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1973), pp. 111-123
- Tom Gunning, “An Unseen Energy Swallows Space.”
- Kees Bakker, “A Way of Seeing: Joris Ivens's Documentary Century”
- Sylvain De Bleeckere, “A Key to the Metaphysics of the Wind: On UNE HISTOIRE DE VENT”
Week 10: Animation, Materiality, Digital Cinema
Monday, May 28.
- L’illusionniste (Sylvain Chomet, UK & France, 2010, 80 min.) (dvd.)
No class on Wednesday, May 30. Reading Period
- BT Chapter 10: section on Animated films
- Vivian Sobchack, “Animation and Automation, or the Incredible Effortfulness of Being”
- Lev Manovich, “Digital Cinema and the History of the Moving Image”
- Tom Gunning, “Moving Away from the Index: Cinema and the Impression of Reality.”