The Critical Essay: Film

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The Critical Essay: Film
Writing Course
Course CodeFILM
Years Of Operation2003-2012
Sites OfferedBRI, BTH, SCZ
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The Critical Essay: Film (FILM) was a CAA Writing course examining and analyzing film works and writing three essays on scenes and their meanings to the films as a plot. This course was offered at Bethlehem, Bristol, Santa Cruz.

Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2003):

From the bustling Manhattan of Charlie Chaplins City Lights (1931) to the mythologized American west of John Fords The Searchers (1956), films have captured our imagination and our culture. More than just popular entertainment, films reflect the society that produces them. What, for example, does a gangster film like Howard Hawks Scarface (1932), a screwball comedy like Preston Sturges Sullivan's Travels (1942), or an adventure classic like Merian C. Coopers King Kong (1933) reveal about how we viewed our institutions, our country, and ourselves during the Great Depression?

Through lectures, critical readings, and discussions, students in this writing course acquire the sophisticated skills necessary for analyzing the form and content of classic Hollywood cinema (1910-1960). Students explore how directors employ specific strategies to achieve desired results and how films make meaning, target audiences, and affect society at large. In addition to clips from various cultures and eras, students watch four complete films, including one work by an acknowledged pioneer of world cinema, such as Akira Kurosawa, F.W. Murnau, Satyajit Ray, or Francois Truffaut.

Students write three critical essays in addition to a number of shorter assignments such as scene analyses and reviews. Each essay is developed though a process of drafting, work-shopping, and revising. Students learn to research specific details to support their thesis statements, organize their thoughts coherently, and forge an original voice with which to express their views.