And we’re off! Your mission will be to respond to my questions, as well as to a classmate’s observation. Throughout our course, I will be reading and responding to all of your great comments, sometimes piecemeal as they occur and sometimes in a wrap-up post that draws the threads together. Try to keep abreast of posts and responses, including those of your classmates. In your own post, references to texts, films, and current events outside the confines of our syllabus are most welcome.
This course concerns storytelling on the page and on the screen; this week is a very abbreviated crash course in film history, shots, and angles. We’re purposely beginning with a shorter text and film as next week we have a longer pairing. I recommend beginning to read A Raisin in the Sun (see Weekly Schedule).
- Watch and take notes on Visual Storytelling 101 and How A Director Stages and Blocks A Scene ; Introduction to Shot Types and Camera Movement
- Read: Warsan Shire, “Home”
- Watch: Charlie Chaplin, The Immigrant (1917). You may want to watch straight-through the first time, then again to take some notes.
- Watch my lecture for this week. Updates: after recording this, I decided we should cover a play (Raisin), so that’s in our mix. Also, many folks thought this year’s Oscars failed yet again– especially those cheering for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
- Here are some useful clips to check out for context.
Discussion Questions: Answer 1 question from each of the 3 sections below, in the REPLY below this post. Aim for 3 paragraphs total.
The Immigrant: (Use details and time stamps from the film to support your points. )
- Summarize the plot of the film in your own words. What do you think Chaplin is trying to convey about immigration, NYC, and the United States? (Support your answer with details from the film). Is the story familiar or foreign in 2021?
- What are the different moods and emotions Chaplin evokes throughout the film? Cite specific scenes and tools he uses to accomplish this (music, plot, blocking). Why is each mood important?
- After viewing the video on blocking and composition, re-watch a scene from the movie. Describe the camera angles and types of shots Chaplin is using, and what effects they have on the understanding of a scene. Include the time stamp range (ex: 5:06-8:03) of the excerpt you’re discussing.
- As a viewer, how did you respond to the film? What were some of your emotions and reactions while watching? What did you like or dislike?
- Summarize the poem in your own words. What do you think Shire is trying to convey about immigration? How do you know this? (Cite specific lines)
- Who is the “speaker” of the poem, and who is the intended audience? How do you know this? (Cite specific lines)
- What literary devices does Shire employ to convey her point? Cite line #s to support your response. See this site for a guide to figurative language and device: https://literarydevices.net/figurative-language/
- As a reader, how did you respond to the poem? What were some of your emotions and reactions while reading? Choose a particular quote that you found compelling. Copy and paste it, then explain why it moved you. Cite the line numbers (ex: lines 14-16) and include a / in between each line break.
- What can we learn from studying these works side by side?
- Why do we watch films? Why do we study the humanities? Will you be returning to movie theaters now that they are opening again?
- Do you follow the Academy Award nominations and ceremony each year? What do you think of this organization? Any thoughts to share on the awards of the past several years?