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You have reached the syllabus for 
Illinois Valley Community College's
Division of Humanities, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences's

The Art of the Film

Film 2009, Section 01: B-314
9:30-10:45 AM T Th

Section 75: B-314
9:30-10:45 AM T Th

Section 100: Online


Fall 2017
Begins 17 August 2017
Ends 12 December 2017

Dr. Kimberly M. Radek-Hall,

Office: A-314  
Office Hours: 11-12:00 PM on T and
9-11 AM on MW and by appointment

E-Mail: kimberly_radekhall@ivcc.edu

Home Cinema by Hall & Hedderman of Australia

  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington film poster from

Course Objectives

In this course you will learn to view films critically, seeing them as collaborative works of art that both reflect and influence society. Additionally, you will gain insight into the technical, historical, and political aspects of the cinema business. These objectives will be met through class lecture and discussion, textbook readings, and written analysis of films viewed in and outside of class. 

This course has no required prerequisites, counts for three hours of General Education credit at IVCC; and transfers to IAI-participating schools as an F2 905 class, and, as such, it must be approached with a serious and thoughtful attitude. In addition, it will help you to attain several of the eight goals, deemed central to IVCC's general education program, specifically:

Goal 1. To apply analytical and problem-solving skills to personal, social, and professional issues and situations.

Goal 2. To communicate successfully, both orally and in writing, to a variety of audiences.

Goal 3. To construct a critical awareness of and appreciation for diversity.

Goal 4. To understand and use technology effectively and to understand its impact on the individual and society.

Goal 5. To develop interpersonal capacity.

Goal 6. To recognize what it means to act ethically and responsibly as an individual and as a member of society.

Goal 7.  To recognize what it means to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of mind, body, and spirit.

Goal 8. To connect learning to life.

Required Text for Purchase

Giannetti, Louis. Understanding Movies. 13th edition. Columbus: Allyn & Bacon, 2013.

Required Texts for Rental, Borrowing, or Purchase

You are required to watch the films listed on the course schedule, however you can manage that.
The IVCC library does have many of the films.


Grading Scale (%)

            A   90-100%    B   80-89%    C   70-79%    D   60-69%    F 59% and lower   

Class Discussions online: 15%
Individual Participation: 15% 
Examination #1: 25%
Examination #2: 25%
Paper or papers: 20% 

Class Discussions: You are required to participate in online class discussions for this course. Section 100-ers should be contributing to 10 of the 12 discussion units, including the first and last. Section 01- and -75ers will participate in 5 of the 12 units, including the first and last.  Everyone is required to participate in the first and last units, and anyone participating in more than the number of units required may earn extra credit.  In these discussions I expect you to respond to the prompts I've posted and to respond to others' comments on the prompts, as well.  The initial responses to my prompts should be a minimum of 300 words each. Please address your classmates by name in your responses to their comments. Also, please do not include any spoilers in your comments. In other words, if you are making a comparison to some other film, do not reveal too much about that other film; you can see more on spoilers below under 'Expected Student Behaviors.'  You may, of course, assume that anyone contributing to the class discussion on the assigned film or films should have seen that or them. Some units have more than one thread; you must do all the threads in a unit to earn all of the points.

Individual Participation:
You will be evaluated on your contribution and efforts to the class. All quizzes, homework, and group work (if any) and quizzes will be graded and make up your participation grade. 

The Examinations: You will be tested over the material covered in class lecture material, discussions, and assigned readings and viewings. The examinations may include short answer, multiple choice, true/false, and passage, film, or work identification questions but will be largely comprised of essay questions. These exams will show that you have read or viewed the assigned texts critically and analytically, identifying common themes and techniques in them, and can write clearly about them. For each exam, there will be film viewings that you will have to analyze.  Note: I recommend that you view the film clips and take notes on them before accessing the written portions of the exam in Blackboard.

The Summary Research Applications Paper: Students from all sections will write this paper. Your paper should be typed using double-spaced lines and should follow standard MLA format. I prefer that you e-mail it to me with the class prefix and number, class section number, and assignment title in the subject line of your e-mail. For this paper you may consider the final chapter of the Giannetti text as your sample, because in the paper I expect you to put the film of your choice through the same paces through which Giannetti puts Citizen Kane. In other words, using the film of your choice (no MP-17 or X ratings, please), identify its title, director, year of production, and primary theme, perhaps in a brief (five sentences or less) summary; analyze its cinematic elements following the chapters in the text, explaining how the use of those elements illuminates not only the plot (as Giannetti so thoroughly explains) but the theme, as well; discuss the film's ideological biases and critique it using at least two of the theories advanced by class lecture to show how different critical lenses can elicit different interpretations and understandings of the same text; and, finally, evaluate whether the director has indeed used the elements well in conveying his or her theme and mention anything particularly memorable or important about the film. I will expect you to cite Giannetti, where appropriate, or professional critiques of your film as you make your case for how the elements are used and whether they are used well. For a sample section of the paper, take this link: Sample Section

This paper should, of course, have a clearly stated thesis statement in its first paragraph and comply to the standards given in IVCC's Style Book.  Papers will be given letter grades that will be converted to percentage points before the final semester grade is calculated, and they will be evaluated on audience, grammar, organization, presentation, spelling, and style as well as content. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate to me that you have learned how to understand and interpret films. I highly suggest that you decide which film you want to work with in the first week of the course.  It should be a film you understand and enjoy and one which you will have easy access to during the semester and one which you will not mind viewing repeatedly. At the conclusion of each unit you should write up that section of the application paper while the chapter's content is still fresh in your mind; otherwise, you'll have a great deal of writing at the conclusion of the class. If you have the capability, you may certainly use pictures within your paper to illustrate the components of the scene/s you describe. These papers will likely be about 10 pages long and should include at least three sources on your Works Cited--one can be the film, one can be Giannetti, and the last one should be some other highly credible source. You may work on these with partners, provided that you post draft sections (and a workload distribution plan) to the discussion board area dedicated to the paper; however, if you have partners, there should be an additional highly credible source for each additional partner.

Capstone Project and Paper:  Students in Section 75 will participate in this project and write a paper regarding their findings. The capstone project this semester is organizing and evaluating a Filmfest as a sociological experiment following the scientific method for the purpose of discovering whether films have an effect on people's political ideologies, knowledge, and/or likelihood of voting. For this project you will work together as a class to decide which films to show, attain the viewing rights of those films, determine when and where the films will be shown and assess viewers before and after viewing attitudes. You may also have discussions with viewers prior to or following the films' presentations. These discussions may involve showing audiences how ideology or manipulation is implicitly embedded in the films, either through content or form (use of the cinematic elements). Following the Filmfest, you will write a report, explaining your initial hypothesis, research methods and film choices, collected data and evidence, and your conclusion (whether it confirms or contradicts your hypothesis).

Technological Requirements

For this class you need an Internet connection and browser, ideally Firefox, to run Blackboard. You also need to have PowerPoint or the free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft and Windows Media Player, in order to have the lectures and embedded clips work correctly. Finally, you will need a word processing program to write your papers in. Papers must be submitted as .doc, .docx., or .rtf files via your student e-mail.

Expected Student Outcomes

Students will analyze various film techniques and genres to attain a greater understanding and appreciation of the artistic quality of film.

Students will gain an insight into how films are and have been made and how the film industry operates and has operated. 

Students will gain an understanding of the impact that history, politics, and technology have and have had upon the films produced. 
Students will become acquainted with the way society impacts films and the way films reflect and impact society. 
Students will explore the role of film in society and determine its responsibilities to society. 
Students will be able to explain both formally and informally how a film’s content relates to its form.
Students will be able to analyze and evaluate films critically.

Skills Necessary for Successful Completion

In this course, you must be prepared to view films intellectually, artistically, critically, and analytically and be able to express these ideas both orally and in written form, and demonstrate a knowledge of the history, conventions, and practices of these industries and their interrelation to each other.

Expected Student Behaviors

   Students will not reveal any spoilers in discussions.  A spoiler, according to Wikipedia's definition, "is slang for any element of any summary or description of any piece of fiction that reveals any plot element which will give away the outcome of a dramatic episode within the work of fiction, or the conclusion of the entire work. Because enjoyment of fiction sometimes depends upon the dramatic tension and suspense which arises within it, the external revelation of such plot elements can 'spoil' the enjoyment that some consumers of the narrative would otherwise have experienced."
 Students will read/view texts with understanding and appreciation, reacting to and analyzing what he or she has read/seen, by the date(s) they are to be discussed.
 Students will participate actively in lectures and discussions, asking/submitting questions for clarification on ideas or issues, if needed.
 Students will integrate and cite accurately information of other writers, critics, or scholars, using those other opinions, beliefs, and/or observations to support his or her own opinions, beliefs, and/or observations.
 Students will synthesize lecture, discussion, and text materials to come to a more solid world view on the impact film has and has had upon history, society, and the artistic world, and vice versa.
   Students will respect each other's personal beliefs and be committed to helping each other learn more about the course information and themselves. Students will help each other become more confident in his or her own unique personal voice and see the authority in his or her own personal experience. 
 Students will respect the professor, making sure all communication is polite. 


The College's policy on plagiarism applies in this class; I will question you if your work does not appear to be your own. Keep all notes, outlines, drafts, and finished assignments so that you can demonstrate that writing you have submitted is your own work, should any question of plagiarism arise.


All students must attend class in person or log in and contribute to the electronic Blackboard discussion at least once a week. Besides the obvious loss of points that goes along with not participating in class, there is no other deduction if you do happen to miss a class; however, if you decide that you cannot complete the coursework, you must complete a withdrawal through WebAdvisor or request it from me through e-mail by noon on 1 November 2017. I will not withdraw you from the class, even if you stop contributing, unless you have requested it of me. Keep in mind, too, that withdrawing from a course may jeopardize or change your financial aid, so be sure to consult with a financial aid advisor before committing to a withdrawal.


If you need support or assistance because of a documented cognitive, physical or psychiatric disability, you may be eligible for academic accommodations through the Disability Services Office.  You can stop by office C-211 or call (815) 224-0284 or (815) 224-0350 for more information.


Tentative Class Schedule

Note: For the cinema history lecture reading assignments, follow the links to the web pages and then select the decade assigned. Make sure you follow the links, usually from the bottom of the pages, to read the entire lecture. Many are ten to twelve pages long. You need not read the individual years' lectures, although you may certainly do so for your own pleasure.


Section 1

Film and Its Elements
Unit 1

Complete by 11:59 PM on August 24th

Section 100: Please check your IVCC e-mail for a welcome letter and then log in to Blackboard. 

All students: Instructions for and explanations of Blackboard, if you are not familiar with it, are available through IVCC's ITS department's link on the topic, which can be accessed from the MY IVCC link at the top of the college's homepage.  I record all grades in Blackboard for all tests, quizzes, and discussions in this class. If something is not listed as graded in Blackboard, then I haven't yet graded it.

Read Cinema History Lecture, Pre-1920s

View The Fellowship of the Ring
Read Fellowship Lecture, a preview of things to come

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion
Practice Quiz 1 
Practice Quiz 2
Practice Quiz 3

Quiz #1  Note: You can only access the quizzes once within Blackboard, so make sure you're ready to take them before you take the links to them.

Read Understanding Movies, chapter 12
View Citizen Kane
Note: Chapter 12 and Citizen Kane are not on the quiz. Chapter 12 is a model of the paper assignment, although your paper will not be so extensive.

Be thinking about which film you'd like to use for your research/application paper.

Unit 2

Complete by 11:59 PM on August 31st


Read Cinema History Lecture, 1920s, and Early History Lecture
Read Photography Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 1

View Gattaca and Star Wars

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #2  Note: You can only access the quizzes once within Blackboard, so make sure you're ready to take them before you take the links to them. (This is the last warning about this that you have to read).

You should review the sample section of the research/applications paper and begin working on the photography section of your own, using your chosen film and identifying its theme. You might identify one or two key scenes which you will focus your paper around, making sure that your chosen scenes each illustrate your chosen theme.
Unit 3

Complete by 11:59 PM on September 7th


Read Cinema History Lecture, 1930s
Read Mise en Scène Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 2

View The Sixth Sense

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #3

Begin working on your mise en scène section, breaking down a scene into its parts and then relating those parts to the plot and the theme. This might be the second section of your paper, following chapter 12 as the model.

Unit 4

Complete by 11:59 PM on September 14th


Read Cinema History Lecture, 1940s
Read Movement Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 3

View Singin' in the Rain and Reservoir Dogs

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #4

Begin incorporating a section on movement into your paper now.  You might also begin researching the film you've chosen to see what critics have thought about it.

Unit 5

Complete by 11:59 PM on September 21st

Read Cinema History Lecture, 1950s
Read Editing Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 4

View Rear Window and North by Northwest

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #5

Begin your editing section for the paper now.  You might also check the film's production or distribution companies' websites for information on the movies; sometimes they have clips from the film, which you could reference or link to in your papers.  You might be able to illustrate your analysis of the editing techniques or their effects by using actual footage from the film in this way.

Unit 6

Complete by 11:59 PM on September 28th

Read Cinema History Lecture, 1960s
Read Sound and Acting Lectures
Read Understanding Movies, chapters 5 and 6

View Pretty Woman

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #6

Examination #1 by 11:59 PM on October 5th

After taking the exam, begin adding the sound and acting sections or components to your analysis paper.

Section 2

Film Values and Theories
Unit 7

Complete by 11:59 PM on October 12th

Read Cinema History Lecture, 1970s
Read Drama Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 7
View and discuss Hamlet

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #7 

Begin analyzing how your film would be different if it were viewed in a different medium, specifically the theatre.  Has the film been a play, and if so, then what were the advantages and the disadvantages in its being performed on film as opposed to on the stage?
Unit 8

Complete by 11:59 PM on October 26th

Remember to let me know by noon on November 1st if you want to withdraw from this class.

Read Cinema History Lecture, 1980s
Read Story Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 8
View and discuss Galaxy Quest, The Mummy, and
 Pulp Fiction and read the Plot and Genre Lecture

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #8

Begin your 'literary' analysis of the film now. What is the film's complication? What are its twists?  How is the climax resolved? What are the emotional changes a viewer of the film experiences as the plot develops? You might include here, if you haven't already, any very symbolic occurrences or metaphorical dialogue. 
Unit 9

Complete by 11:59 PM on November 2nd

Remember to let me know by noon on November 1st if you want to withdraw from this class.

Read Cinema History Lecture, 1990s
Read Writing Lecture and Writers' Guild Lecture
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 9
View and discuss The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #9

Begin researching the script or other original source for the film.  What challenges did the original cause for the filmmakers?  Were there any significant changes to the story (especially as relate to your chosen theme) from the script to the final cut?
Unit 10

Complete by 11:59 PM on November 9th

Read Understanding Movies, chapter 10,

View Independence Day and Men in Black
Read Ideology lecture

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #10

Begin your ideological analysis here.  Does the film communicate its values to you directly (explicitly) or subtly (implicitly)?  What are those values?  Does the film suggest how people should think or behave, and if so, in what ways?
Unit 11

Complete by 11:59 PM on November 16th

View Kate & Leopold
Read Theory Lecture and The Different Interpretations of Kate & Leopold
Read Understanding Movies, chapter 11

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #11

What are the best ways to approach this film? What interpretations would you miss, if not for analyzing the film from some theoretical perspective? Does God or Christianity evidence themselves in the film in anyway?

Finally, what does this all mean?  How cognizant was the director of communicating the film's theme?  Was the film done well to that end? What might have improved the film's communication of that theme? Will this film live on as or become a classic, or is it likely to be understood and appreciated by only a select following, and if so, what are the characteristics of that audience?

Summary Application Research Paper Due via e-mail by November 22nd at 11:59 PM
Unit 12

Complete by 11:59 PM on December 7th

Re-read Understanding Movies, chapter 12
Review Citizen Kane
Read Cinema History Lectures, 1980s and 1990s, and
Read Understanding Movies,
chapters 8 and 9

Enter Blackboard for Class Discussion

Quiz #12 on Chapter 12 of Understanding Movies and Citizen Kane

Examination #2 in class on December 12th or online by December 12th at 11:59 PM.

Please note that all times are understood to be Central, as IVCC falls into that time zone.

The Instructor's Homepage | IVCC Homepage 
Contact Kimberly M. Radek, the instructor of The Art of the Film, at

This page was last updated on 17 August 2017. Copyright Kimberly M. Radek, 2002.