Basic Principles of Cinema Studies
One thing we'll do in this course is to learn how to “break down” a film in order to think about it in a detailed way. There are several reasons to do this:
- to ponder its different parts
- to understand how it works
- to understand how it influences its audiences
- to appreciate it as an art form
- and this list could easily be extended
You may worry that breaking down a film will, in some way, limit your pleasure of film-viewing. Believe me, it's just the opposite. In my personal experience, and in the experience of many students with whom I have worked, your enjoyment and passion for cinema only increases by acquiring "new eyes" and "new ears" for understanding film.
First of all, film is it's own medium. It is categorically NOT like a novel, a poem, a short story, a play, or an oral performance.
A film is MUCH more than a story, and to think of a film only as a story is to miss the point. Film is a medium and it has a form—like novels, plays, or poems—and one point of this class is to come to a better understanding of the forms of cinema. In order to move beyond viewing films as mere “stories” it’s important to regard film in terms of these four basic components. Please look at each of the links below. We will return to these concepts again and again during the semester, so you need to understand them.