A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet. Orson Welles
This blog represents an experiment in providing an introduction to the study of motion pictures through an online, collaborative and evolving textbook.
Our initial focus –
The language of film, the development and role of motion pictures in America, including the history of films and filmmakers, the influence of film on American culture, and film criticism.
Film study and the consideration of films in this “text” will be organized around the following major analytical areas, developed by Dr. John Lee Jellicorse:
- The Technical Dimension: The communication devices that arise from the process of motion photography and production, including camera movement, composition, sound, lighting, editing, etc.
- The Dramatic Dimension: The factors involved in the telling of the story, be it fiction or non-fiction, including theme, plot, characterization, story structure, etc.
- The Auteur Dimension: The factors in a work that characterize the film as the unique product of a director, or of a studio, producer, or actor; that is, the person or persons who can be considered the author of the work.
- The Genre Dimension: The factors in a work that result from it being in one, or a combination of, genre(s) (that is, classes or types of stories), and how the history of and expectations engendered by the genre service the film. Genres can be based on many factors such as location (the western), type of story (action, love, mystery), content (musical, science fiction, nature), or style (experimental, avant-garde, etc.).
- The Rhetorical Dimension: The factors in a work that deal with its impact on an audience (“rhetoric” means to influence an audience), the point or points the film may be trying to make, the messages the film may be trying to convey, the call-to-action the film may be championing.
- The Socio-Historical Dimension: An understanding of where the film rests in the history of motion pictures and of the world and society in general.
Special thanks to Todd O’Neill, Assistant Professor, New Media Communication, College of Media and Entertainment, Middle Tennessee State University for technical and design advise, and to Steve Jarrett, Manager of Communication/Media Lab, Communication Department, Wake Forest University, for editorial and content support, and to Dr. John Lee Jellicorse, Former Head of the Drama and Speech Department at the University of North Carolina, for his mentorship, friendship, and the scholarly structure for film studies he taught me as a student and protege.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Technical Dimension