Film 102 - Learn the four major elements of cinema with Howie Movshovitz
180 Minute Running Time
Mondays from 6:30-9pm – January 20, 27, February 3, 10 - enroll here
Film 102 will look at four major elements of cinema – color, genre, sound and melodrama – and the goal is, as always, to sharpen our seeing and deepen the experience and the pleasure of watching movies. And, because this is not school, there are no pre-requisites for Film 102.
Class 1: Melodrama
Most American movies – and plenty of non-American movies – are melodramas. But melodrama is much misunderstood. It is NOT just a mess of weeping and sentimentality, but it IS a remarkable coming together of innocence and suffering. Melodrama is how our movies talk about race and social class and the experience of women – and also the experience of men. Most film noir is melodrama; most westerns are melodrama. First Blood, aka Rambo is melodrama
Clip: Avatar (James Cameron, 2009, and yes Avatar is melodrama) and Rambo
Feature: Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937)
Class 2: Genre.
From early on in its history, American film has been genre-based, meaning that film production companies made westerns, musicals, thrillers or gangster pictures, but did not make John Ford or Ida Lupino movies. Genre means loosely a kind of movie, which audiences easily recognize through patterns of story, locations, images and sometimes even actors. Genre films operate within bodies of rules, but the difference between good genre movies and lesser ones is that in the good ones the filmmakers know how to break the rules, and in the others, the rules become rigid.
Clip: Shane (George Stevens, 1953)
Feature: Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
Class 3: Sound
When sound came to the movies in 1927, many filmmakers were unhappy because they thought that dialogue would lead to realism, which they found dull, and would rob the movies of their poetry. Those troglodytes may have been right, but sound has also been used exceptionally well. It may breed realism, but it also has brought human conversation into film, along with complex characters and complex emotions in ways quite unlike the poetic silent film.
Clips: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Nashville (Robert Altman, 1976)
Class 4: Color
Color can be wonderful or disgusting, and everything in between. It can make a film look like actuality, or it can alter our notions of what reality may or may not be. Color is mysterious and often inexplicable.
Clip: Swing Time (George Stevens, 1936)
Feature: Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou, 1990)