FILM 101: Introduction to Cinema

Class Program
Degree Code
Humanities Lecture
Credits 5 Lecture Hours 55

This class examines a series of films from different cultures, eras, and genres as a way to create an appreciation of filmmaking and to analyze different aspects of culture in cinema.  On an introductory level, we will examine some of the tools in the filmmakers’ arsenal and consider how they relate to the filmmaker’s vision.  Exposure to a variety of films—ranging from independent and foreign to studio blockbusters, and everything in between—is also fundamental to this class. (Formerly ENGL 216)

Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate the following knowledge or skills:

  1. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by comparing and contrasting different films according to their thematic content and technical form, and express these skills in writing and discussion.
  2. Define some of the core techniques in filmmaking according to three main categories:  narrative or storytelling, cinematography, and post-production or editing.
  3. Apply these definitions of techniques to films.
  4. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by making judgments on the success or failure of films based on logical and established criteria, and express these skills in writing and discussion.
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by showing the relationship between technical aspects of filmmaking and the film’s thematic content, and express these skills in writing and discussion.
Institutional Outcomes

IO1 Communication:  Students will be able to communicate clearly and effectively.

Course Content Outline
  1. Ideally, the class should aim to show one film per meeting, as time allows, totaling nine or more films per quarter.
  2. A variety of different films will be represented, with an emphasis on broadening students’ exposure to different genres and cultures, as well as attempt to range from classic to contemporary, and from independent or foreign to big studio blockbusters.
  3. Films should be put into their proper context before being shown or discussed.  On an introductory level, this should include whatever is relevant in film history, definition of genre, directorial style, critical reception, thematic connections, or other related topics.
  4. Core techniques that come up in the film should be clearly defined so that students can watch for and identify them. While discussing and identifying techniques, attention should be drawn to the connections that exist between a filmmaker’s technical choices and the impact they have on the audience.  By the end of the quarter students should have been exposed to the main technical aspects of filmmaking, and be able to draw conclusions about the relationships between these technical choices and an audience’s experience.
  5. For each film, students should participate in a discussion that includes thematic analysis of the film; connections to other films watched in class; the film’s effectiveness and impact on viewers, as well as logically sound critiques of the film; definition and application of film techniques, including a discussion of their overall success or failure.
  6. Thematic analysis of the films will be used as a starting point for in-depth analysis of the cultural representations seen in the films. Students should be comfortable supporting or critiquing the values represented in the films.
Department Guidelines
  1. Students should demonstrate Course Learning Outcomes in written form as well as in oral discussion.
  2. Instructor should choose films based on their artistic merit, critical reception, contribution to popular culture, or other legitimate academic criteria, and not on their MPAA rating.  Students entering this class should be made aware of this standard and should not take it if they are concerned about sexuality, violence, vulgarity, or other subject matter in films that they might find offensive.
  3. This class is designed to work in a traditional classroom setting. However, it can also be taught as a hybrid or online course.  In a hybrid model, there should be one weekly meeting for the viewing of the film, and some context and discussion, with a portion of the course consisting of online work for further discussions, analysis, and teaching of filmmaking techniques. In an online course, students would need to watch the films independently.
  4. Ideally, students will learn about the techniques before watching a film that displays them, but that is not a requirement.


PO4 should be assessed: Students will be able to recognize or articulate personal/interpersonal aspects of, or connections between, diverse cultural, social, or political contexts.

PO5 should be assessed: Students will be able to solve problems by gathering, interpreting, combining and/or applying information from multiple sources.