English | American Film Culture
L295 | 26963 | John Schilb


L295 AMERICAN FILM CULTURE
John Schilb

Lecture:  26963 - 4:00p-5:15p TR (30 students) 3 cr.A&H.
Film viewing:  6:30p-9:30p M

TOPIC:  ďA movie is not what it is about, but about how it is about
it.Ē

With this intriguing statement, film critic Roger Ebert pushes us to
focus on cinematic style.  This is indeed what we will do as we
study several celebrated Hollywood films.  Although we will consider
their themes, we will focus above all on their techniques: how they
use editing, photography, art design, sound, and performance to
create a world.  We will analyze how each movieís style reflects not
just the filmmakerís thinking, but also trends in American history
and culture at large.  Another key element of our course will be
genre; we will examine the relation of style to various types of
cinematic stories, including film noir, the musical, the Western,
and the gangster thriller.

Beginning with the dazzling style of 1941ís Citizen Kane, we will
move chronologically through the following: Double Indemnity,
Singiní in the Rain, On the Waterfront, The Searchers, Imitation of
Life (1959 version), North by Northwest, Bonnie and Clyde, Do the
Right Thing, and American Splendor.  The Monday night session will
be the screenings.  The Tuesday-Thursday class will emphasize
discussion.  Readings will include the original novels of Imitation
of Life and The Searchers; selections from Harvey Pekarís graphic
novel series American Splendor;  and various articles on our set of
films.  The course will include working with IUís Lilly Library,
which houses interesting materials connected to Citizen Kane and The
Searchers.  Required writing will entail some brief, informal
reflections; a short paper analyzing a scene (3 pages); and a longer
paper (5 pages) on a topic of your own choosing.  There will be a
midterm and a final exam.