ARTH 334 University Maryland Strangers on a Train Film Discussion

Help me study for my Film class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.

You will be responsible for watching a film and writing a 3-5 page essay in which you respond to prompts which will be provided for each paper. (This means at least 3 pages include the “My Criteria for Quality in Film” page and no longer than 5 pages. These assignments are reaction papers, not plot summaries or research papers. The key element here is that you will be telling the instructor what you have to say about the film, not what others have said.

In this 300-level course, you are expected to explain why you think the way you do about the film, and to justify your explanation on (using references to subjects found in the weekly content in the LEO classroom.

You will be responsible for turning in these assignments to the proper assignment folder in LEO.

Putting these assignments off until the last possible moment probably will not work very well. Each of them requires you to view an additional film besides the ones you will be watching for the week’s discussion, so you should be sure to leave yourself enough time to view the necessary film, think about it, write a first draft, and then edit and revise.

Part of your responsibility in this course is to make any and all arrangements necessary to allow you to view the films, think and write about them, and turn your assignments in by their respective due dates. Some of the films you watch may be available for streaming via Netflix or another online content provider; others may be available for checkout from your local public library, while others may need to be rented.

Be sure to spell the names of the directors, actors, screenwriters, and other people correctly (this can cause “points” to be taken off the final grade for that paper). Any name that is not listed in the credits that begin or end in the film is a name you do not need to mention.

The papers will be graded based on such elements as evidence that you are reading and viewing the material, the course content, references, and comparisons to other films you have seen (in or out of class and throughout your lifetime as a movie watcher), and especially to films you have previously written about; use of the film vocabulary introduced in class; clear presentation of your opinions; reasonable explanations and justifications to support those opinions; and college-level writing skills (spelling, punctuation, and grammar). Other criteria will be presented to you as appropriate.

You are better off watching these films on the largest possible screen, and at the highest possible resolution.

Paper One Assignment for Film one (F1)

Part 1: View a feature film made between 1940–1970 you have not seen before (or will see later in this class) by a great director. If you would like to see an American film, consider seeing something directed by Frank Capra, George Cukor, John Ford, George Stevens, Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, or William Wyler. If you would like to try a foreign film consider Ingamr Bergman (Swedish), Luis Buñuel (Spanish), Claude Chabrol (French), Frederico Fellini (Italian), Akira Kurosawa (Japanese), Lina Wetmuller (German) or the British team known as “The Archers” made up of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. These are suggestions but not a comprehensive list of possibilities. For a much more extensive list, you may want to visit http://www.filmsite.org/directors.html. (Note that many directors were active both before and after 1970. Make sure you see a pre-1970 film, Make sure it’s a film you have not seen before, and make sure it is a feature. Don’t, for example, see Buñel’s UN CHIEN ANDALOU, which is a short, not a feature.)

Comment on the specific film you saw. Pay particular attention to the camerawork,(cinematography) the editing (montage) and the sound (this can include the music). What did you like, and what did you dislike, about what you saw? Why do you like the things you like, and why do you dislike the things you dislike? Is the film a good film, or is it not? (Note: This is not the same question as whether or not you liked it. It is entirely possible to like a film that you are aware is not very good.) You should comment on the film both as a representative of its genre and as a film.

Part 2:
Now that you have commented on the specific film you viewed, see if you can draw some general conclusions about the work of the director and of the main actors or actresses. For example let us say you watched the 2012 film Prometheus (no this is not a film you can watch for this paper). Did you like Ridley Scott as a Filmmaker? Did you like Michael Fassbender in the roll of an emotionless android? Why, or why not? Be sure to comment on the overall impression you had on the film, including how you see it as an example of its genre and time period. Remember, this is not a research paper. I am interested in what you have to say, not in what you can learn by reading up on the film or the filmmaker.

Part 3:
On a separate page, insert the heading “My Criteria for Quality in Film.” Under that heading, use your comments about this film and its filmmaker as guidelines towards proposing five general statements indicative of your personal taste in movies. These statements should be numbered (1) through (5) and they should be written as complete sentences or a short paragraph. It might be useful to introduce each statement with such language as “Excellent movie feature,” or “A movie is more likely to be good if,” or “A characteristic of high quality cinema is.” (For example, if you commented in the body of your essay that you liked the acting because it was realistic and you liked the script because it had a happy ending, you could propose these two statements as criteria for quality: “(1) Excellent movies feature realistic acting. (2) A movie is more likely to be good if it ends happily.” Do not jut put something like “Good movies feature good acting.” The point here is for you to think about—and then explain—what such quality words as good, excellent, and effective actually mean. Be sure to save your “My Criteria” page to your hard drive—you will be adding more items to this list and resubmitting an expanded version of it for the second paper later in this course.

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