assignments (FH)

60-Second Review (20 points)

A signup sheet will be distributed during the second week of class. You will give an in-class oral 60-second (i.e. one minute) film review. Summarize the film, place it in historical context, and analyze it — all in 60 seconds. You can find some examples of faculty 60-second lectures here.


FILM ANALYSIS (20 points)

Due: Oct 16. Papers should be submitted through Canvas.

Watch a French, German, Soviet, or African-American film made between 1910 and 1927 (one that is not on the syllabus). Write a five-page, double-spaced close analysis of the film, putting the film’s style in its historical and industrial context.

What style or movement(s) does it represent? What are the political, cultural, economic, industrial contexts of its production? Use this information to analyze the visual style of the film. Be as specific as possible. You can discuss the entire film, but you should focus on a scene or two to illustrate your points. Use description and analysis not generalizations. “The Smiling Madame Beudet uses subjective camera angles” is not sufficient. Where, how, and why does the film use subjective camera angles?

This is not a research paper. You do not need footnotes, and you should not need to do any additional reading. You have all of the contextual material you need in the textbook and from class lectures. The assignment requires that you watch a film closely (and multiple times) and look for evidence of a movement, culture, and period. You will be graded on your ability to find clear and specific examples of a movement. It is great to find counterexamples as well. Why is Metropolis, for example, both like and unlike an expressionist film?

Like everything you write, your essay needs to have a thesis and an argument. It would take much more than 5 pages to describe how The Battleship Potemkin is a Soviet montage film. So you need to find a narrower argument. For example: Eisenstein uses close-ups of objects and people to create symbolic meaning in his scenes. Or: Un Chien andalou harkens back to the cinema of attractions by rejecting classical Hollywood editing.

Suggested Films (all in VanPelt)

Aelita (1924)

Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Avant-Garde : Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and ’30s (includes films by Duchamp, Eisenstein, Man Ray, Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling)

Avant-Garde Shorts Subjects from France (1914) – compilation

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1928)

Body and Soul (1925) [In the collection Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist]

Pandora’s Box (1928)

Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)

Faust (1926)

Joyless Street (1925)

The Golem (1920)

Hands of Orlac (1924)

J’accuse (1919)

Kino-Eye (1924)

Last Laugh (1924)

Man Ray Experimental Films (1924) – collection

Metropolis (1927)

Napolean (1917, 1981)

Nosferatu (1927)

October (1927)

La Roue (The Wheel) (1924)

The Scar of Shame (1926) [in collection The Origins of Film]

Secrets of a Soul (1926)

Siegfried (1924)

Smiling Madame Beudet (1922) (only French intertitles)

The Street (1923)

Strike (1925)

Traffic in Souls (1913)

Warning Shadows (1923)

Waxworks (1924)

Within Our Gates (1920) [in collection The Origins of Film]

more films available here


DUE: December 9. Submit through Canvas. 

Choose a film, any film, made before 1945. The film cannot be on the syllabus. If you need some ideas, look at the filmographies in the Thompson/Bordwell book.

Then, pose a question about the film. Does the film reflect something specific about the culture that produced it? Does it respond to technical or industry changes?

Submit a bibliography of 10 key articles or book chapters that are relevant to your film and question. Your bibliography should state your research question at the top. Citations must be in an accepted bibliographic format (Chicago, MLA, etc.—see links to examples below). After each work cited, you should include a 300-350 word entry that describes (a) the argument or findings of the work, (b) the method used by the author or authors, and (c) how it is relevant to your question. Not every essay must be directly about your film or even mention it. For example, you might choose to write about I was Born, But…, using an article on Japanese society in the 1930s. But you must show the connection in your annotation.

You may not include more than one chapter from an individual book. Readings assigned for class do not count. You may use no more than three newspaper or magazine articles; the remainder of your sources must come from books and journals.


Bibliographic Style

Silent Films Online (streaming movies)

A Guide to Some Film Resources at Penn

Oxford Bibliographies Online (great place to start)

Media History Digital Library (trade periodicals)

Project Muse (journals)

JSTOR (journals)

Historical Newspapers

Google Scholar


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