Dr Matt Denny
This module is intended to introduce students to the techniques and skills of textual analysis and to develop their understanding and appreciation of cinema both past and present. It aims to introduce cinema through a range of critical lenses and frameworks, familiarising students with key formal strategies and critical concepts that are necessary for analysing films. It is designed to ensure that students are adept at examining the various visual, aural and narrative conventions by which they create meaning and how these meanings have been understood within the academic field of film studies.
The module is divided into two parts. During the first term the module offers students various methods for developing and applying the critical vocabulary required to analyse formal elements of cinema such as mise-en-scène, editing, staging, and composition Before moving to explore filmmaking across a number of historical, national, and stylistic modes in the final weeks. In the second term the module moves on to cover key theoretical concerns in film studies, such as authorship, genre, and stardom. The impact of the industry on filmmaking will also be considered.
Students will explore these ideas through a wide and engaging array of films from different countries and different periods in the history of cinema. By focusing on a range of narrative films, this module will ultimately equip students with the necessary analytical skills to discover cinema’s richness, its complexity and its expressiveness.
This course will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and weekly screenings. Attendance at lectures, seminars and screenings is compulsory.
Aims and Objectives
- This module aims to introduce and familiarise students with the principles of film form, narrative and style as well as the basic methodologies of film criticism.
- This module will introduce students to some of the key theoretical concepts in film studies, including debates on genre, stardom, and authorship and the impact of the industry on filmmaking
- It intends to equip students with a critical vocabulary for analysing films and will give them significant practice in discussing and writing about cinema.
- It will allow students to develop a scholarly understanding of some of the dominant concepts, methods and debates in film studies.
- It gives students the opportunity to study historical and contemporary cinemas from Europe, Asia and the Americas and enables them to explore a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to studying this exciting medium.
By completing the module, including all its assessment components, students will be able to:
- Analyse the formal properties of a narrative film, including its mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, sound and style.
- Apply the principles of textual analysis to a variety of film texts.
- Understand the basics of some of the main approaches in film studies such as mise-en-scène criticism .
- Demonstrate competence in writing critically about film.
- Demonstrate fundamental skills in the close formal, thematic, industrial, and theoretical analysis of different kinds of cinema
1200 – 1300 Lecture A0.28 Millburn House
1300 – 1500 Film Screening 2 A0.28 Millburn House*
Seminars (Attend ONE) A1.24/A1.28 Millburn House
1200 – 1300 or 1300 – 1400 or 1400 – 1500
*If you cannot make the Tuesday screening you MUST attend the Monday screening at 0900 – 1200 in A1.25 Millburn House
The following books will be useful for reference throughout the course. It would be a good idea to be acquainted with them early on:
• David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (New York: McGraw Hill, 2013)
• Film Moments: Criticism, History, Theory, eds. Tom Brown and James Walters (London: BFI, 2010)
• Pam Cook, The Cinema Book (London: BFI, 2007)
• John Gibbs, Mise-en-scène: Film Style and Interpretation (London: Wallflower, 2002)
• Adrian Martin, Mise en scene and film style: from classical Hollywood to new media art, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) [NB: This is a more advanced text, but does feature an excellent introduction covering the history of mise-en-scene analysis]
• V.F. Perkins, Film as Film: Understanding and Judging Movies (New York: Da Capo Press, 1993)