Film and Psychosis:
The Relations among Spectators, Actors, Writers
English 263 (07942-4): Introduction to Film
Spring 2002, M: 8:30 - 11:18 AM, W 8:30-10:18, Denney Hall 250
The hopeless dream of being—not seeming,
but being. At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you
are with others and what you are alone.
The primary objective of this introduction to film course is to learn how
to become active and analytical viewers of film. We'll first learn the major
elements of film (mise en scène, narrative, cinematography, editing,
sound) through the course textbook and lecture, then examine how those elements
function in various films. The course's thematic focus inquires into the various
relationships between, on the one hand, the work of art (broadly defined, including
film and literature) and, on the other hand, the spectator (viewer or reader),
and the performer (actor), or creator (author or director). We'll investigate
how the emotionally charged world of art puts subjects in this world in question,
and why those psyches sometimes fall—or are pushed—over the edge.
Phillips, William H., Film: An Introduction,
2nd ed. (available at SBX)
on reserve or available to rent
film and screenplay availability
film study questions
strategies for viewing,
analyzing, and writing about film
Assignments and Grade Distribution
response (email, 500 words minimum), 10%
To prepare yourself and the rest of the class for
discussion of films, you'll give me a type-written response as well as post
it to the course listserv, firstname.lastname@example.org,
that is simultaneously scene breakdown and thematic analysis. More instructions
and sample response here: Instructions and Sample
Response. Sign-up here: Listserv Sign-up.
To test your understanding of the textbook as well
as to compel you to view films actively, every Wednesday at the beginning of
the class, you will take a short quiz on the reading and the film from Monday's
class. 6-7 out of 7 questions is an A, 5 is a B, 4 is a C, 3 is a D, 0-2 is
an E. No make-ups; the lowest quiz will be dropped.
midterm exam, 25%
To apply your analytical abilities and knowledge
of the elements of film, you'll write an essay exam that covers the five films
viewed in class as well as gives you a short scene to analyze.
paper (1500 words minimum), 25%
To apply the active viewing and analytical abilities
honed in the listserv response, class discussion, and midterm exam, you will
compose a final paper that compares and contrasts a film viewed in class with
a film from a recommended viewing list. More instructions here: Final
final exam, 25%
Same as midterm, cumulative but focusing on the second
half of the quarter.
Attendance and Participation
We're going to be working with intense, challenging
films this quarter. Consequently, we'll all benefit from sharing our questions
and ideas, both in class and on the listserv. Regular Attendance is highly recommended
to do well on the quizzes, exams, and paper as no make-up quizzes will be given,
exams are based on class lecture and discussion, and the paper draws heavily
on the modes of analysis presented in class. The only excuses accepted for missed
exams or due dates are university-sponsored athletics, jury duty, deaths in
the family, and sickness with doctor's note.
Plagiarism is the representation of another's works
or ideas as one's own. It includes the unacknowledged word for word use
and/or paraphrasing of another person's work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged
use of another person's ideas. All cases of suspected plagiarism, in accordance
with university rules, will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct.
Office of Disability Services
If you have any specific needs or concerns, please
feel free to discuss the issue with me during office hours. Students with
disabilities who need accommodations should be registered at the Office for
Disability Services (292-3307).
If you have difficulty writing analytical and argumentative
papers, the staff of the Writing Center serve as readers and responders to writing
for the English department writing programs as well as all other university
disciplines. Besides giving feedback, the English graduate students tutors
can help with other writing issues such as topic development, organization,
coherence, clarity, and self-editing. To make an appointment, call 292-5607
or stop by 485 Mendenhall Labs M/W 8:30-5:30, T/R 8:30-7:30, and F 8:30-1:30.
On the Monday after finals week, I will have your
final exams ready for you to pick up. Make arrangements with me to retrieve
your exam, or I will discard it after two quarters.
This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.
Even though we won't usually discuss the Phillips text until
Wednesday classes, please read the text before viewing Monday films as study
questions for the films will be based in part on the the text.
Opera (Dario Argento, 1987, 107m)
Phillips, Ch1 "Mise en Scène" (1-54)
Discussion: What is a spectator?
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962, 132m)
Phillips, Ch2 "Cinematography" (55-98)
Discussion: What is an actor?
||Barton Fink (Joel Coen, 1991, 117m)
Phillips, Ch3 "Editing" (99-140)
Ch4 "Sound" (141-80)
Discussion: What is a writer?
Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999, 112m)
Phillips, Ch5 "Expressive Film Techniques in The Third Man"
Ch6 "Sources for Fictional Films" (181-222)
Discussion: What is being?
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950, 110m)
Discussion: What is obsession? What is psychosis?
||eXistenZ (David Cronenberg, 1999, 97m)
Phillips, Ch7 "Types of Fictional Films" (223-60)
Ch8 "Narrative Components of Fictional Films"
Discussion: What is existence?
Croupier (Mike Hodges, 1999, 91m)
Phillips, Ch9 "Alternatives to Live-Action Fictional Films"
Ch10 "Variety of Films and Hearts of
Discussion: What is real?
||Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001, 147m)
Phillips, Ch11 "Understanding Films through Contexts" (363-402)
Ch12 Thinking about Films" (403-44)
Ch13 Understanding "The Player"
Discussion: What is a dream?
No Class: Memorial Day observed
Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966, 81m)
Final Paper Due
Discussion: What is an authentic act?
Final Exam Review
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995, 106m)
(determined by class vote)
Graduating Seniors: Final Exam Due
||Final Exam: 7:30-9:18AM