FMA1172                                                                                                      Course Instructor: Dr. Chris Cagle

Introduction to Film and Video Analysis                                              Office: Film & Media Arts, Annenberg 132

Fall 2008                                                                                                                                                           Phone: 1-4812 / Email:

                                                                                                                                                                                    Office Hours: Tu 2-3PM, F 3-4PM, or by appt.


Class meeting times (Tuttelman 101):                             Discussion by section:

W 9:40 AM - 11:30 AM (usually screening)                sec. 1: M 9:40 AM - 10:30 AM  (AH 302) Karl-Rainer Blumenthal

F 9:40 AM - 11:30 AM (usually lecture)                          sec. 2: M 10:40 AM - 11:30 AM  (AH 302) Laura Deutch

                                                                                                                                  sec. 3: M 11:40 AM - 12:30 PM  (AH 302) David Moore

                                                                                                                                  sec. 4: M 12:40 PM - 1:30 PM  (BA 209) Brandon Watz                


What does it mean to "read" a film or video? How can we analyze moving image media in the manner that we interpret literary texts or appreciate form in the fine arts? What are the differences between film, video and these older media? How does film communicate meaning? This course introduces basic analytical tools and concepts to begin to answer these questions. It surveys the broad artistic, social ,and political dimensions of the cinema, with some attention to newer moving image media.


While not a historical survey or a film appreciation course of great "masterworks," screenings will be inclusive and broad, pulling examples from across historical eras, genres and national contexts. Whether challenging or entertaining, high art or popular culture, the examples will illustrate the nature and breadth of cinematic and video expression. Not all films and screenings will appeal to everyone or be equally entertaining, so students should approach all screenings with an open mind and a scholarly curiosity.



By the end of this course, students should gain the following abilities:


Š         Thorough knowledge of basic terminology of film form

Š         Ability to give a strong, original interpretive reading of a film

Š         Facility in writing a well-organized analytical paper

Š         Adeptness in recognizing formal elements, in real time, in a screened film or video

Š         Understanding of the forms of film scholarship and familiarity with Temple library’s resources in film study


The grading will measure how well the above objectives are met. Median grades for the class will be in the C range. This represents average work that minimally fulfills assignments as specified and shows the most general knowledge of the material. B and A grades will be rewarded for work that goes beyond basic requirements, shows mastery of the course’s concepts, and demonstrates student originality of thought. Similarly, below average work, or work that fails to address the assignment’s specifications will receive a D or failing grade, as appropriate. Incompletes will be given only in the most extreme extenuating circumstances. Here is the breakdown of how grades are calculated:


Quizzes/Paper1/Journals/Misc. - 10%  

Midterm exam - 20%     

Midterm decoupage - 15%                    

Final exam - 20%              

Section participation - 5%

Paper #2  - 6%

Paper #3 - 12%

Paper #4 - 12%



Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis, Film: A Critical Introduction 2nd edition (FCI, for short, below)

Supplemental readings on Blackboard



This course will require regular reading, participation and written assignments. The syllabus and relevant class material will be posted on BLACKBOARD. Students are expected to check the course Blackboard on a weekly basis for any updates and changes.  Unless otherwise noted, readings should be completed by Friday lecture.



In the sections, students will discuss the screenings in more detail and will review readings and lectures. Participation in class discussion is crucial to the success of course. Discussion gives students a chance to address questions from lecture and reading and to practice analysis of films.


Timely attendance is expected for lecture, but is particularly important for the Wednesday screenings, which will be tightly scheduled. Make every attempt to be seated before the class period starts. Be courteous to others during screenings, and make sure phones are turned off. Be aware that we will watch a range of material, including some with violent or sexually suggestive content (on par with an R rating).



Regular attendance is required to pass this class. Students may miss up to three classes, but no more than two lectures, two screenings, or two sections. Students who leave lecture early, arrive late, or sleep in class may find their day’s attendance not counted. Missed classes will also mean missed quizzes, which cannot be made up. If you miss more than the allotted absences, each absence will mean a 5 pt. deduction from your final grade. Since there will be no extra absences excused for sickness, count on reserving a day or two for any contingency.



Over the course of the semester there will be at least three pop quizzes on the readings, on key concepts, or even on details from the films. These will be given usually in lecture period but perhaps sometimes in section. The quiz grade will include any small, miscellaneous assignments that may be assigned for discussion section (such screening notes or journals).



FMA1172 is not explicitly a composition course or a writing-intensive class. However, good film analysis means strong writing, and significant class time and attention will be devoted to how to write an analysis. Proper style, grammar, spelling, and formatting is expected on all written assignments, and students may find themselves penalized if mechanical errors or substandard style get in the way of a clear presentation of their ideas. Students are advised to take advantage of writing resources in the university and to actively approach instructors about any writing issues before they become a detriment to class performance.



Papers and other assignments must be completed on time. Late work turned in within two days of due date is penalized 5 points; work within a week of due date, 15 points. Work that is more than one week late fails automatically. Final papers will not be accepted more than two days late.


Students will be expected to adhere to the spirit and letter of academic honesty. At minimum, all writing, phrasing and ideas put forth by someone else should be duly noted through proper academic citation – MLA and Chicago style are both standards acceptable for this class. Also, a student’s name on any assignment turned in will be treated as an explicit statement that the work is that of the student and of the student alone. Any violation will result in a failing grade. This course requires submission of electronic copies of written assignments to, a plagiarism-checking website. For reference, see



Temple University's academic freedom policy ( promotes free inquiry and free expression. This course, too, stresses critical thinking as much as it does specific analytical skills.



Any student who requires any accommodation based on the impact of a disability should see the instructor privately to discuss the situation as soon as possible – ideally in the first couple of weeks of the semester. This applies for any adjustments or accommodations for testing, writing assignments, or other in-class exercises. The instructor and TAs will work closely with the office of Disability Resources to help students achieve their best in class. For more, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services (



While the teaching assistants will be the first contact for most of the questions related to the course, students are welcome and encouraged to see the instructor during office hours or to email him with any questions or concerns. He will reply to emails are quickly as possible; students, however, should allow for a 24-hour turnaround time. Please compose emails with a salutation, a signature, and standard spelling and capitalization.




Note that assignments may change with a week’s notice. Pay attention to any class announcements and to Blackboard instructions.


Week 1. Introduction: What Does it Mean to Analyze a Film?

Collateral (Michael Mann, US, 2004, 120m)

 “14th arrondissement” segment of Paris, Je t’aime (Alexander Payne, Fr/US, 2007, 6m)

Six 'o Clock News (Ross McElwee, US, 1997, 102m [excerpt])

Frank Film (Caroline Mouris and Frank Mouris, Canada, 1973, 9m)


FCI, chs. 1-2: “Introduction” and “An Approach to Film Analysis”


Week 2. Reading Theme

A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph Mankiewicz, US, 1949, 102m)

The City (Ralph Steiner/Willard van Dyke, US, 1939, 50m])


FCI, ch. 3, 14:  “Writing About Film,” “Film Authorship”

Greg M. Smith, “It’s Just a Movie”

sample analysis of Collateral (Blackboard)


Week 3. Narrative Form and Documentary Structure

Rain/Regen (Joris Ivens, Netherlands, 1929, 15m)

Cleo from 5 to 7/Cléo de 5 ą 7 (AgnŹs Varda, France, 1961, 90m)


FCI, ch. 4: “Narrative Form”

sample analysis of Letter to Three Wives (Blackboard)




Week 4. Cinematography

Klute (Alan Pakula, US, 1971, 114m)


FCI, ch. 6, “Cinematography”

Andre Bazin, “Ontology of the Photographic Image” (Blackboard)

sample analysis of Collateral and Klute (Blackboard)





Week 5. Mise-en-ScŹne         

Ambition (Hal Hartley, US, 1991, 9m)

All About My Mother/Todo Sobre Mi Madre (Pedro Almodovar, Spain, 1999, 101m)

Kustom Kar Kommandos (Kenneth Anger, US, 1965, 3m)


FCI, ch. 5, “Mise-en-ScŹne”

Paul Julian Smith, “All About My Mother” (Blackboard)

sample analysis of Klute (Blackboard)


Week 6. Editing I: Classical Narrative

The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, US, 1903, 12m)

                       Musketeers of Pig Alley (D. W. Griffith, US, 1912, 17m)

                       American Madness (Frank Capra, US, 1932, 76m)


FCI, ch. 7, “Editing“

FCI, ch. 10, “Cinema as Industry: Economics and Technology”

Thomas Schatz, “The Whole Equation of Pictures” (Blackboard)

sample analysis of Letter to Three Wives (Blackboard)



Week 7. Sound in Narrative

La Ciénega/The Swamp (Lucrecia Martel, 2001, Argentina, 103m)

Wargame (Mai Zetterling, Sweden/UK, 1962, 15m)

Black Girl/La noire de… (Ousmane SembŹne, Senegal, 1966, 55m)


FCI, ch. 8 “Sound” [for Wed.]

for section: sample analysis of Black Girl (Blackboard)


Week 8. Midterm/Editing II: Montage



October (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1929, 20m excerpt)        

                       Ménilmontant (Dmitri Kirsanoff, France, 1926, 33m)

Report (Bruce Conner, US, 1967, 13m) 


Sergei Eisenstein, "Cinematographic Practice and the Ideogram" (Blackboard)

for section: Two sample analyses of Ménilmontant (Blackboard)


Week 9.   Genre

TheSpiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak, US, 1946, 83m)

The Bird With Crystal Plumage/ l’Uccello dalle piume di cristallo (Dario Argento, Italy, 1970, 98m)


FCI, ch. 13, “Genre”

Christine Gledhill, from "Klute 1: Contemporary Feminism and Film Noir" (Blackboard)

Carol Clover, from “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film” (Blackboard)


Week 10. Experimental Media: Form, Defamiliarization, Concept and Inner Life

H2O (Ralph Steiner, 1929, US, 12m)

Papillon d'Amour (Nicolas Provost, 2003, Belgium, 4m)

Geography of the Body (Marie Mencken and Willard Maas, US, 1943, 7m)

                       The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal (Matt McCormick, US, 2001, excerpt)

                       In Order Not to Be Here (Deborah Stratman, US, 2002, excerpt)

Tango (Zbigniew Rybczynski, Poland, 1980, 8m)

Shift (Ernie Gehr, US, 1972-4, 9m)

spam letter + google image search (Andre Silva, US, 2005, 3m)


Christmas, USA (Gregory Markopoulos, US, 1949, 15m)

Sink or Swim (Su Friedrich, US, 1990, 48m)


FCI, ch. 9. “Alternatives to Narrative Fiction Film: Avant-garde Films,” pp. 293-307 [for Wed.]

sample analysis of Rain (Blackboard)

for section: Jim Hillier, “Sinking and Swimming: Form and Meaning in an Avant-Garde Film”


Week 11. Documentary as Construction: Montage and Sound

High School (Frederick Wiseman, US, 1968, 75m)

                      McKinley Parade (Thomas Edison (prod.), US, 1896, 1m)

Searching for Dead Bodies in Galveston (Thomas Edison (prod.), US, 1902, 3m)

NBC White Paper: "Sit In" (NBC, US, 1961, 50m)

Eyes on the Prize, v. 3 (Blackside Productions, US, 1983, 25m)


FCI, ch. 9. “Alternatives to Narrative Fiction Film: Documentary,” pp. 279-293 [for Wed.]

Richard Leacock, “For an Uncontrolled Cinema” (Blackboard) [for Wed.]

John Grierson, “First Principles of Documentary” (Blackboard)

sample analysis of High School (Blackboard)




Week 12. Ideology

Taking of Pelham 123  (Joseph Sargeant, US, 1974, 104m)

Panic in the Streets (Elia Kazan, US, 1950, excerpt)


FCI, ch. 11,  “Film and Ideology”

Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner, “Crisis Films” from Cinema Politica (Blackboard)

Diane Giddis, "The Woman Divided: Brie Daniels in Klute" (Blackboard)

Christine Gledhill, "Klute 2: Feminism and Klute" (Blackboard)

sample analysis of American Madness (Blackboard)




Week 13. Thanksgiving Week NO CLASS

watch Hitch (Andy Tennant, 2005, US, 120m) either outside of class or at an optional Wednesday screening




Week 14. Star Image: Katharine Hepburn and Will Smith as Case Studies


FCI, ch. 12, “Film Stardom as a Cultural Phenomenon”

Geoff King, “Star Power” (Blackboard)

Richard Dyer, "A specific image: Jane Fonda" from Stars (Blackboard)


Week 15. National Cinema: China and Germany as Case Studies

Hero (Zhang Yimou, China, 2001, 99m)

Machorka-Muff (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, Germany, 1961, 15m)

Brutality in Stone/Brutalität in Stein (Alexander Kluge, Germany, 1961, 10m)


Martha Wolfenstein, "Movie Analysis in the Study of Culture" (Blackboard)

sample analysis  of Hero (Blackboard)






FINAL EXAMINATION   Wednesday 12/17  9:00-11:00AM