Are you passionate about movies? Are you interested in learning about how movies are made or do you even want to learn the first steps towards making movies yourself? If the answer to any of those questions was yes, then the Film Narrative and Theory course might be something to keep on your radar.
Taught by Dr. Gregory Brown, assistant professor of English, this course is available for all students to take and is offered randomly, so students will have to watch the course catalog closely if they want to take it. “The course covers basic film terminology such as shots, angles, and mise en scene, and aspects of narratology and theory such as film critique and ideology, the difference between plot and story, etc.,” said Brown. “We do this in a practical sense, using films we screen in class for the material.”
As listed in the course’s syllabus, topics that are covered include how film works as text, elements of storytelling in film and discovering key literary devices and major themes in texts. Film Narrative and Theory is “an intermediate course in film studies, grounding students in major approaches to film theory and criticism (e.g., psychoanalysis, gender studies, cultural studies) and emphasizing the structure of the film as narrative art,” as stated in the syllabus. “The class will reinforce the language of cinematography, editing, sound, performance and genre.”
Even Brown feels like he was an interesting selection to teach the course. “Though I have some training in the matter from graduate school, film is not my main area; therefore, I always feel a little trepidation about teaching the course,” said Brown. “I’m not a movie buff either—I often find movies overwhelming. So, if you were to ask me why I enjoy teaching the course during a semester when it isn’t offered, I would probably have difficulty answering. But once the syllabus is printed and the class begins, I find that I like teaching students how to appreciate and understand film in an advanced way. There is so much to unpack in a well-made film. When students begin to process consciously and intellectually what before was only dimly perceived, they light up with understanding. I love that moment. And above all, I enjoy sharing some favorite films with students.”
The students involved in the course also greatly enjoy it.
Garrett Freas, a senior History major, is taking this course for his Documentary Filmmaking concentration, but also finds the course extremely important. “I chose this class because I think that, as an art form, movies/films are often oversimplified, misunderstood, and do not receive the same level of recognition as the traditional arts (when, in my opinion, they should),” Freas said. “In this class, we often discuss how the narratives of movies are structured, and the ideas underlying certain styles of filmmaking. Having a better grasp of these concepts can help me better appreciate movies as an art form.”
This class is offered during random semesters, so if you want to learn more about the work that goes behind making movies, be sure to keep Film Narrative and Theory on your radar!