Susan Sontag writes, “One can’t possess reality, one can possess (and be possessed by) images.”  This remark alludes, in a slightly sinister way, to one of the central goals of this course, which is to help you learn to better dissect and analyze film.  The words “possess” and “dissect” suggest an analysis that is forceful and violent.  The best analysis, though, does not attempt to control or master its subject but is, rather, a subtle sort of engagement that finds a soft middle ground between possessing and being possessed.  Rephrasing Sontag, when we analyze a film, we edge closer and closer, seducing and being seduced by its sound and images.

This course introduces the critical study of film, exploring theoretical, historical, and technical concerns while presenting a survey of important film genres.  This is not just a film appreciation class.  Certainly, over the course of the semester, we will increase our appreciation of film, however we will also focus intently on honing our critical thinking, close-analysis, and writing skills.  The point of the course is not to become an expert in any one film or perspective on film; instead, we will watch (and read about) a wide variety of films, approaching them from numerous perspectives, considering both the effect films have on individual viewers and their ability to reflect culture. 

We will begin by asking very important questions about the nature of film:  What is film?  Why do we watch film?  How is film evolving as a medium?  What is the relationship between film and other artistic media?  As we proceed, our questions will build upon one another, considering the following sorts of subjects:  the language of film, what happens to reality when it’s put on film, the gendered gaze, the film spectator, the horror genre, postmodernism, the auteur and the death of the author, etc.  All the while, we will think also about our own relationship to the film medium (and our own evolution as viewers), exploring the real (psychological and physical) impact film has on us.

FILM 1002: Film Analysis


FILM 1002

Instructor: Jesse Stommel

Virtual Office Hours: MW 12-1

A class is a process, an independent organism with its own goals and dynamics.  It is always something more than even the most imaginative lesson plan can predict.

                 ~ Thomas P. Kasulis