Monday, August 20, 2012


Elements of Film
Fall 2012 - PEL
Tom Hammond

This course is an introduction to film analysis and criticism.  Being able to identify and interpret the various components of a film is vital to understanding the most important and influential art form of the last century and this one as well.  We will watch films and clips in class.  You will be assigned feature-length films to watch as homework as well as readings from the required text.  There will be a class blog for you to participate in and an individual project.

Class Blog:  You will be invited to post on this website.

Instructors Contact Information – phone: 813-900-4759, email: or
Face to face meetings can be arranged before or after class.

Required Text:

Louis Giannetti, “Understanding Movies”

Netflix – A monthly subscription is a good idea for the semester.  All assigned movies are “streamable” on Netflix.  It costs $8 per month and the first month is usually free.  You can obtain all the films at the library, but availability might be a problem with 25 students and a limited number of copies on hand.  You can rent or buy, but Netflix is easily the most convenient and affordable method.  If you subscribe and for an extra $7, you can receive the films by mail as well as streaming.  Turnaround is 2-3 days. 

Course Requirements and Grading:

·         Attendance & Participation                         20% of grade
·         Contribution to Class Blog                          40% of grade
·         Midterm & Final Exam                               40% of grade
·         Extra Credit Project                                   (+10% of grade)

Attendance & Participation – Every class covers a component of film history, theory and criticism vital to your overall understanding of the subject.  If you can’t avoid missing a class, let me know in advance.  Any pattern of absence or chronic lateness will be noted and will adversely impact your final grade.  Speak up in class.  If that is difficult for you, bring in something that will inspire discussion. 

The Class Blog – You will be invited to author on the blog.  You can make comments on existing posts, post photos, videos or your own writing.  You can add links and suggested readings and viewings as well.   The Blog is a component of participation.  Contributing to it will generate interest in the class and good grades for you. 

Mid-Term & Final Exams – You are responsible for knowing the content of the assigned readings, and being familiar with class and required outside viewings.  The exams will be a combination of objective and short answer questions.

Extra Credit – You can keep a journal of films you view outside the requirements of class.  You should choose from movies that are mentioned or illustrated in the text book.  Write a paragraph or more for each entry explaining how this film relates to the subjects we are studying in class along with a personal opinion.  Turn in your work before the end of the semester in organized and printed form.

Academic Integrity – If you use an idea from another source, you can quote it or paraphrase it, but please CITE IT.  Failure to do so will be a violation of the Honor Code.

The Eckerd College Honor Code: “On my honor, as an Eckerd College student, I pledge not to lie, cheat or steal, nor to tolerate these behaviors in others.”

To affirm this, you will write, “Pledged” followed by your signature on all assignments, papers and exams.

Assignment Schedule:

·         All readings are chapters in the required text, “Understanding Movies” by Louis Gannetti.
·         Assigned Viewings are films you are required to see outside of class (all “streamable” on Netflix).
·         In class we will watch feature films, scenes and clips from various movies and documentary material on filmmaking.  Much of this will also be posted on the Blog for your further study.

Week 1: Introduction
Introduction of students and professor
Review of syllabus
Lecture: Film Language
In-class viewing: “Citizen Kane”
Assigned viewing: “Me and Orson Welles”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 1

 Week 2: Photography
Lecture: Film Production & Cinematography
In-class viewing: “Visions of Light”
Assigned viewing: “Black Narcissus” 
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapters 2-3

Week 2: Editing & Sound
Lecture: Post Production & Music
In-class viewing: “The Cutting Edge”
Assigned viewing:  “13 Assassins”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapters 4-5

Week 3: Drama & Acting
Lecture: History of Drama & Acting Styles
In-class viewing: “On the Waterfront”
Assigned viewing: “Midnight Cowboy”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapters 6-7

Week 4:  Genres – MID-TERM EXAM
Lecture: Genre Categories & Conventions
In-class viewing: “Unforgiven”
Assigned viewing: “Shane”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapters 8-9

Week 6: Story & Writing
Lecture: Narrative Methods in Film
In-class viewing: “8½”
Assigned viewing: “Chinatown”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapters 10-11

Week 7: Ideology
Lecture: Theme, Ideology & Propaganda
In-class viewing: “V for Vendetta”
Assigned viewing: “Duck Soup”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 12

Week 8:  Synthesis – FINAL EXAM
Lecture: Film Theory & Criticism
In-class viewing:  “Citizen Kane


In the event of an emergency or campus shutdown, class work will continue online at:

You will be invited to contribute as a blog correspondent at the beginning of the semester.  This is part of the participation segment of your grade and the location for all information if class can’t be held as scheduled.  Assignments will be posted there as well as suggested readings.  Video lectures will be available if a shutdown continues for more than one week.  Under those circumstances, you may also post any written assignments on the blog or send them to my email at:

You can contact me by phone at:  813-900-4759

Be sure to review the school handout on procedure in the event of a hurricane.

 “Duck Soup” - 1933
 “Citizen Kane” – 1941
“Black Narcissus” – 1947
“Shane” – 1953
“On the Waterfront” – 1954
“8 ½” – 1963
“Midnight Cowboy” – 1969
“Chinatown” – 1974
 “Unforgiven” – 1992
 “Visions of Light” – 1992
“The Cutting Edge” – 2004
 “V for Vendetta” – 2006
“Me and Orson Welles” – 2008
“13 Assassins” - 2010

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