Skip to main content

FAR 110: Introduction to Film

Course Description

Learn how to watch films actively and critically in this course. Through a study of American films, students will acquire a working knowledge of American film history from the silent era; recognize and use the basic technical and critical vocabulary of motion pictures; understand how the technology of the cinema relates to film art; enhance his/her ability to think, speak, and write critically in an increasingly visual and technological culture.

Prerequisite

  • None

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Discuss visual strategies of film analysis and film making by focusing on the four categories of camera movement (cinematography), sound, editing, and mise-en-scene.
  2. Analzye the beginnings of Hollywood narratives, the contrasting work of the Film School Generation and counterculture of independent filmmaking in the United States.
  3. Define and discuss different traditions in American Cinema.
  4. Respond to movies in a more reflective and critical way after completing this course.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

AssignmentsPoints

Discussion Board Postings (Weeks 1-8)

32

Short Responses (Weeks 1, 3, 4 & 5)

8

Research Paper Proposal (Week 2)

2

Film Review Essay (Week 6)

13

Research Paper (Week 7)

20

Final Exam (Week 8)

25

Total

100 Pts

Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak's online bookstore

  • Belton, John (2017). American Cinema/ American Culture (5th Edition). New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN-10: 0073514292
  • Sikov, Ed. (2009). Film Studies: An Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN: 0231142935

Additional Resources

  • Students are expected to watch at least two movies each week (except for week one). Students will be able to use the films from a specific week’s unit. Students are expected to seek access to films either via their public library, Netflix or a similar service, video stores, and/or buy DVDs via Amazon.com.

Course Schedule

WeekSLOsReadings and ExercisesAssignments

1

1-4

Topic: The Emergence of Cinema

  • How does Hollywood filmmaking work and how did it come into being? The Emergence of Cinema as an Institution.

Readings:

  • Belton - Preface, Introduction and Chapter 1
  • Sikov - Introduction, Chapters 1, 2, and 3

Videos:

  • The Great Train Robbery (1903)
  • Life of an American Fireman (1903)
  • Trip to the Moon (1902)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch three movies
  • Submit short response

2

1-4

Topics: The Studio and the Star System

  • The mechanics of stardom. Stars and culture.
  • Manufacturing of dreams. The majors and minors. The studio style.

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 4 and 5
  • Sikov - Chapters 3, 4, and 5

Videos:

  • Top Hat (1935)
  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • Frankenstein (1931)
  • The Public Enemy (1931)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Submit paper topic proposal

3

1-4

Topic: Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narration

  • Film form and character development. Ways to analysis film according to the mise-en-scene, camera work, sound and editing.
  • What is the Hollywood style?

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 2 and 3
  • Sikov - Chapters 6 and 7

Videos:

  • His Girl Friday (1940)
  • Casablanca (1942)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Submit short response

4

1-4

Topics: A Postwar History: Hollywood, The Cold War, and The Age of Television

  • Communism, Hollywood and the American Way.
  • The big decline: Hollywood loses its audience.

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 12, 13 and 14
  • Sikov - Chapter 9

Videos:

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  • I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
  • Oklahoma! (1955)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Submit short response

5

1-4

Topic: The 1960’s and 70’s: The Counterculture Strikes Back and The Film School Generation

  • The mechanics of stardom. Stars and culture. Blockbusters.

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 15 and 16
  • Sikov - Chapter 8

Videos:

  • Lolita (1962)
  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  • Easy Rider (1969)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Submit short response

6

1-4

Topic: Film Noir: Somewhere in the Night and The American Comedy

  • Film Noir: genre, series or mode? Noir aesthetics. Noir and the production code. Women in film noir.
  • Comedy, repression and cultural dreamwork. A short history of the America screen comedy.

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 8 and 10
  • Sikov - Chapter 10

Videos:

  • Film Noir:
    • Double Indemnity (1944)
    • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
    • Sunset Boulevard (1950)
    • Chinatown (1974)
  • Comedy:
    • What’s Up Doc? (1972)
    • It Happened One Night (1934)
    • Arthur (1981)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Submit Film Review

7

1-4

Topic: The Independent Film

  • Filmmakers working outside the studio. “Independent” films made by the studios

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 17 (pg. 403-412)

Videos:

  • Blood Simple (1984)
  • She's Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986)
  • Sex, Lies and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh, 1989)
  • Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Submit research paper

8

1-4

Topic: Into the 21st Century

  • Film and social media.
  • The digitization of cinema. Current film trends.

Readings:

  • Belton - Chapters 17 and review glossary of technical and other terms in the textbook
  • Sikov - Chapter 11
  • Article - Paranormal Activity

Videos:

  • Timecode (2000)
  • A Scanner Darkly (2006)
  • Paranormal Activity (2007)
  • Avatar (2009)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Watch two movies
  • Complete Final Exam
  • Complete Course Evaluation
Final Exam
SLOs 1-4

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.