Category Archives: Homework

Homework #4: Spectacular Cinema

Atlanta Burning sequence, Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind (1939)
Atlanta Burning sequence, Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hollywood in the 1930s was filled with spectacles, from the musical fantasies of Busby Berkleey to surreal costumes and sets in The Wizard of Oz and the attention to historical accuracy in Gone with the Wind. These large budget films (the Oz budget was 2.77M and Gone with the Wind was approx. 3.9M) demonstrate the desire to create an immersive cinema that transported audiences from the somber realities of the Great Depression. Listen to the short NPR news story on the making of Gone with the Wind and note the grand scale of the production, from the long casting process to the interest in historical accuracy as well as the subsequent controversies. In addition, read a New York Post article that draws attention to the controversial aspects of the film.

Share with your classmates examples of films that function like spectacles. What big-budget movies have produced similar spectacular settings to captivate audiences? What do you think of the extravagant budgets of these films? 

Listen to the NPR Gone with the Wind Story here.

NYPost article: “Gone with the Wind” should go the way of the Confederate flag”

To complete this homework assignment, note whether you Post or Comment. For Homework #4, Diamonds and Spades will submit a Post and Clubs and Hearts will Comment (choose any of your classmates’ posts to comment on).

Homework #4 is DUE by Thursday October 15th.
 Diamonds and Spades Post, Clubs and Hearts Comment, note your blog group! Email me if you forget.

Homework #3: Birth of a Nation and Controversial Films

Poster for first showing of Birth of a Nation in Seattle, c. 1915
Poster for first showing of Birth of a Nation in Seattle, c. 1915

At home and in class, we screen excerpts of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in class, a movie that was first screened 100 years ago. The racist content of the film invoked protest across the nation, led primarily by the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The combination of Griffith’s remarkable artistry, distorted historical accounts, and overt racism produced sickening propaganda for the Ku Klux Klan. Listen to a short NPR report on the legacy of the Birth of a Nation. For an example of the impact of Griffith’s film on a recent movie, see Henry Louis Gates’ interview of Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained (2012)

NPR report on Birth of  a Nation

Gates’ interview with Quentin Tarantino

Share with your classmates other examples of controversial films that have evoked protests in the past. Do you know of movies that have caused similar demonstrations or complaints about content?

To complete this homework assignment, note whether you Post or Comment. For Homework #3, Clubs and Hearts will submit a Post and Diamonds and Spades will Comment (choose any of your classmates’ posts to comment on).

Homework #3 is DUE by Thursday September 24th.
 Clubs and Hearts Post, Diamonds and Spades Comment, note your blog group! Email me if you forget.

 

Superman (1978)

This review is super biased. Because I’ve been a Superman fan from way back in the day. i’m talking “in the womb”

The opening used  in Richard Donner’s Superman is fantastic nearly 40 years later.  It starts out with a child narrating the circumstances of Superman’s stomping ground of Metropolis before he showed up. It really serves as a metaphor for our world before Superman leaped into through the pages of Action Comics #1 in April of 1938. According to the kid Metropolis was ravaged by the “Worldwide Depression” much like our world at the time.  And that the Daily Planet, place of employment for mild mannered  news reporter Clark Kent, served as a beacon of hope for the failed city.  And then we leap into the iconic John Williams score. Everyone knows it. It’s the Opening Song.  The only opening scores that can touch it in terms of recognizability  might be Star Wars, The James Bond Theme from Dr. No, or maybe Danny Elfman’s Batman.  It’s just really, really great.

Then we pan over the landscape of the icy, barren land that is  Kal-El’s homeworld of Krypton. And we enter the Kryptonian council in the middle of the trial of General Zod, his man-hating accomplice, Ursula and their mindless mound of muscle, Non.  The council is nearly unanimous in their decision to banish the nefarious trio to the Phantom Zone, Krypton’s prison dimension, but the deciding vote belongs to Jor-El, Superman’s pops. Played here by Marlon Brando, acting icon extrodinaire and a notriously difficult to work with kind of guy. Word has it he didn’t even the script throughout filming he had his own card guy. Jor-El decides to send them to the Phantom Zone causing General Zod to shout the iconic “YOU WILL KNEEL BEFORE ME!” Line. In reality this isn’t touched upon as the Kryptonian criminals are conspicuously absent throughout  the remainder of this film. After this Krypton starts self-destructing as usual and Kal-El is sent to Earth. And thus concludes the nearly 20 minutes opening sequence. And what an opening sequence it was.

The opening scene for “Iron Man”

The “Iron man”, film has one of the best opening scenes. The scene puts into pieces the entire Marvel Studios film franchise success because it was that good. I was never a fan of superhero films because those types of films were always the same, the build up, the obstacle and the action. I remember telling my friends that if Iron Man didn’t intrigue me in the first five minutes, I would walk out, which I never did. In the first five minutes we are introduced to the main character Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) as a drinker, a very elegant man who wears a suit in the desert and his dialogue are set in motion. The ACDC in the background is perfection; it really lets the audience know that they are witnessing a likeable and epic character. I also like the timing of the explosions and ambush; that really sets off in the most ambiguous moment. The opening scene is movie directing at it’s finest putting the audience in a situation we’re you don’t know anything, a fast build up with the perfect timing. Trailers are supposed to get you to see movies and the opening scene is what should make you stick around for the film.

Saving Private Ryan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCEFOx5Hc2Y )

I choose “Saving Private Ryan” which was directed by, Steven Spielberg because I love war movies. In the opening scene you can feel that something big is about to happen because there’s a whole U.S army arriving at a destination. I felt like it built up suspense because first everything was calm, but as soon as the doors drop you hear gun shots zooming around and people start dropping dead one by one. I liked  how a group of soldiers who don’t know each other come together to achieve one common goal. I honestly recommend this movie to anyone who has never watched it. If you are into historical based movies that has to do with the World War and Nazis, then this is a movie just for you. Just to warn you, this movie is kind of graphic and gory.

Homework #2: Opening Scenes-The Matrix, an example of Bordwell and Thompson’s ‘hard’ opening?

Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) in opening scene of The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix (1999)
Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) in opening scene of The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix (1999)

Bordwell and Thompson begin chapter 2 in Film Art with a discussion of the importance of opening scenes in movies by contrasting the differences between two Steven Spielberg movies, Jurassic Park (1993) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Bordwell and Thompson describe the start of Jurassic Park as a “hard” opening filled with action that helps build suspense toward an encounter with a T-rex. The beginning of The Matrix is similar to the what Bordwell and Thompson describe as a ‘hard’ opening. According to movie legend the opening sequence of The Matrix was filmed first and cost $10M. Studio executives were so impressed with the opening that they funded the entire project, which in the end cost over $60M.

Share with the class a favorite opening scene by including a link in your post (video.google.com and youtube are good sources for video clips) and discuss why you find the opening so compelling. If you can’t find a clip and want to discuss a film anyway, include a link or an image to the movie.

To complete this homework assignment, note whether you Post or Comment. For Homework #2, Diamonds and Spades will submit a Post and Clubs and Hearts will Comment (choose any of your classmates’ posts to comment on).

To students submitting a Post, please check off the category Student Post and please tag your posts (i.e., add the name of the movie as your tag)! In order to post, you have to be a member of the class, simply click “Join” on the Class Profile to become a member. If you’re unsure how to submit a post, follow the instructions under Blogging Guidelines and/or contact me!

To students submitting a Comment, choose any of your classmates’ posts to comment on. Watch the clip in their post and tell the class what you think are its strengths/weaknesses.

Homework #2 is DUE BEFORE CLASS September 17th.
Diamonds and Spades Post, Clubs and Hearts Comment, note your blog group! Email me if you forget.

Homework #1: Introduce Yourself!

First Contact in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

As a follow-up to our first class, please tell your classmates a little about yourself and your interest in cinema. Have you ever taken a class on film history? What type of movies do you like? And how do you like to screen movies? From home? in movie theaters? on a large screen or on computer screens? Share your thoughts with your classmates by replying to this post. Click on “Leave A Comment” above this post and then submit your response. Please complete your Introductions BEFORE class on Thursday September 3rd.