This history course explores how fundamental changes in film technology affected popular Hollywood storytelling. We will consider the transition to sound, and the introduction of color. Each change in technology brought new opportunities and challenges, but the filmmaker's basic task remained the emotional engagement of the viewer through visual means. We will survey major directors and genres from the studio era and point forward to contemporary American cinema. Our aim is to illuminate popular cinema as the intersection of business, technology, and art. Through film history, we will learn about the craft of filmmaking and how tools shape art. This online educational experience is not equivalent to a college course.
Subtitles for all video lectures available: Turkish (provided by Koc University), English
Table of contents
Here is a week-by week description of the course and the films discussed. Each lecture is followed by an ungraded multiple choice quiz. At the end of the course, students can complete a longer, 20 question multiple-choice quiz for a grade. This is an online educational experience, not intended to be equivalent to a college course.
Week One: INTRODUCTION
Lecture One: Form, Technology, and the Art of
Lecture Two: The Power of Silence: Cinema as a Visual
Watch Street Angel (Fox, 1928) NOTE: Street Angel is Optional because the purchase price of the DVD can be prohibitive.
Lecture Three: Street Angel: Borzage's Visual Opera
Lecture Four: von Sternberg's World
Watch Docks of New York (Paramount, 1928)
Lecture Five: Docks of New York: The Seedy Side of Silence
Lecture One: Sound Comes to Cinema
Watch Applause (Paramount, 1929)
Lecture Two:Applause, Mamoulian's Struggle for Style Lecture Three: The Marx Brothers: Unbridled Talk
Watch Monkey Business (Paramount, 1931)
Lecture Four: Monkey Business: Vaudeville Anarchy in the Sound
Lecture One: Gunfire and the City: Introduction to the Gangster Film
Watch Scarface(United Artists, 1932)
Lecture Two: Scarface: Sound and the Gangster's World
Lecture Three: Building an Atmosphere: Val Lewton’s
Watch The Ghost Ship (RKO 1943)
Lecture Four: Ghost Ship: Horror through Sound and Light
Lecture One: Harnessing the Rainbow: Introducing
Watch Trail of the Lonesome Pine(Paramount, 1936)
Lecture Two: Trail of the Lonesome Pine: Dramatic Restraint
Lecture Three: The Color of Adventure
Watch Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner Bros. 1938)
Lecture Four: Robin Hood: Technicolor’s
Lecture One: Color and Melodrama
Watch All that Heaven Allows (Universal, 1958)
Lecture Two: All that Heaven Allows: Orange,
Blue, Loss and Longing
Lecture Three: Continuing the Technicolor Tradition
Watch Punch Drunk Love(New Line: 2002)
Lecture Four: Punch Drunk Love: P.T. Anderson's Palette Games
As others said, a really fun course. Only downside is that it's a very casual course. One final quiz at the end of course, which is a compilation of the in-lecture quiz questions. In other words, it didn't feel up to the difficulty of an actual university film course. No writing, essays, etc. Nonetheless, I still learned many things. Learned about the transitions from silent to sound films, B&W to color, and the different color technologies of the 30s-50s. And learned about how all of these technologies were used as creative tools by the filmmakers. You'll watch a variety of films in this course.
The course load is 5-6 hours a week, but that's with watching two movies and two half-hour lectures...plus any rewatching/extra study you may do. So it's really only fun study, at least it was for me.
i love film, and history; had studied a bit of the former, lots of the latter. Learned WAY more than expected from this course, Wesleyan's management of the MOOC was impeccable and Scott Higgins was a great lecturer: knowledgeable and generous-spirited.
A fun and enlightening course, well taught. You can tell Prof. Higgins is not only extremely good at explaining the cinema vocabulary but also his enthusiasm and love for film is evident. It was fascinating to hear the influence of vaudeville as well as business and technical considerations that shape this art form and continue to do so. The films of various genres that were covered in this course (students were expected to seek them out) were great choices too.