Week 7 Discussion Guide: Thursday
Because "Film Studies" became a scholarly discipline only recently, and because it initially was treated as a commercial enterprise closely allied with newspaper "movie reviewing," film scholars often refer to a mix of popular and scholarly sources in their work. Also, access to a wide range of scholarly film journals usually requires working from a university with a large Film Studies Department to fund the library's periodical subscriptions. For this assignment, I have had to prepare a list of some acceptable resources on this film analysis paper project. Take a look at what is available, and visit the ones which are online so that you can familiarize yourself with the most readily available secondary scholarship. Also, read this web page about how to salvage a non-scholarly but carefully constructed source. In class, we'll continue to talk about film terms of art, especially those which are least accessible to the viewer but which have the greatest effects upon our visual and auditory access to the film's evidence: mise-en-scene (scene layout); shooting (camera angles; shots--zoom, tracking, crane, aerial); montage (cutting and reassembling film sequences); sound (on- and off-screen; dialogue; sound effects; music). Like Hawthorne's use of narrators with emotionally unstable minds, settings with dim or confusingly bright light, and substances or illnesses that derange narrators' perceptions, the practices described by these terms enable directors to filter and distort audiences' perceptions of what is real and what is not, even before the invention of fully digitalized special effects.
Re-view the short excerpt from Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) several times while keeping track of how the camera is positioned, how the camera moves, how characters are framed in the shot, and how the combination of camera position/movement and framing shapes our perception of the action. In class, you will get a chance to practice using this professional vocabulary for describing film in preparation for our writing about Casablanca or The Third Man. Our goal is to reconstruct the Citizen Kane sequence of shots. Then we will attempt to do the same thing with the opening shot sequence of Casablanca. Before you watch the whole movie, please read these instructions to prepare you to view it as a scholar would.