Film as Literature
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Since the advent of the motion picture in the early 20th century, Americans have had a love affair with movies, never more so than in our present day and age; one could go as far as saying that film is now the predominant form of American literature. Film as Literature will introduce students to the terminology of filmmaking, teach them how to “read” a film as a work of literature, as well as hone their ability to analyze a creative work (written or filmed) on a number of different levels. A special unit on adaptation will explore the process of creating a visual presentation (film) out of a written work.
At the end of the semester, students will
- Know the names and works of some of the filmmakers who have had an impact on our culture;
- Be able to identify and explain the plot structure, literary/filmmaking techniques, and underlying themes of various films, as well as critically evaluate these works from a Christian perspective; and
- Understand, appreciate, and make a personal connection with the common thread of human emotions that we share with people from different walks of life, no matter how different our day-to-day existence may be.
- Student (in body and spirit)
- 3-ring binder with pockets and loose-leaf paper
- Textbook and/or any other work being studied
- Blue/black pen or pencil (NO colored pens on homework, quizzes, or tests)
A (95-100) C (79-82)
A- (93,94) C- (77,78)
B (91,92) D (75,76)
B (87-90) D (72-74)
B- (85,86) D- (70,71)
C (83,84) F (0-69)
Grading will be based upon total points earned divided by total points available. Other than a terminology quiz early in the semester, Film as Literature is all about writing. Students will be writing an essay or completing a short-answer quiz for each film we study, and will have a final film analysis paper in lieu of a final exam. Instructions and due dates that are not adhered to will result in a deduction of points.
Participation in class is more than just “important”; it is vital to a student’s success, not only here, but in every course they take. Therefore, record will be kept on how often each student participates in class. All students will start the semester with a C in participation. Positive participation, including answering questions, taking notes, and contributing to discussion, will increase the grade. Negative participation, such as inattentiveness, talking, or doing anything not related to the current classroom activity, will result in a reduction in the grade.
A NOTE ON, WELL, NOTE-TAKING
Note-taking is one of the most important skills a student can have. Information is the key to your success in any class, and unless you have a photographic memory (which most of you don’t), you will have to write that information down in order to remember it. I can almost guarantee you that you will not do well in my class if you do not take notes.
“Writing is a process,” according to the old saying, and as such, students will be encouraged to work thorough the process by re-writing papers as many as two times in order to improve their grade. The first draft submitted is expected to be as good as possible, but it is rarely perfect. Therefore, I will mark grammatical/mechanical errors and make comments and suggestions about the content; the student will then be free to rewrite to improve their score. The second and/or third draft must be submitted within a week of being returned, and the student should attach all previously marked copies. All points are available except for those deducted for not following directions, i.e. no cover page, not typed, late, etc.
In addition to the school rules outlined in the Student Handbook, the following guidelines will help us all get along (and maybe learn something, too):
- I will treat you with respect, so you will know how to treat me.
- Feel free to do anything that doesn’t cause a problem for anyone else.
- If you cause a problem, I will ask you to solve it.
- If you can’t solve the problem, or choose not to, I will do something.
- What I do will depend on the special person and the special situation.
- If you feel something is unfair, come to me in private and, with a calm voice, say, “I’m not sure that’s fair,” and we will talk.
- Leave the food and drinks in the cafeteria; you’re not going to starve before your next meal.
Introduction to Film Study
Cinematic, Theatrical, and Literary Elements of Film
Adaptation: Literature to Film
Films studied in previous semesters include:
Strictly Ballroom Vertigo The Shawshank Redemption
Double Indemnity The Godfather O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Unforgiven Blade Runner Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
City Lights The Dark Knight The Silence of the Lambs
We will certainly study some of the films on this list, but I will also offer other worthy candidates based on my own whims, as well as (occasionally) class vote. In general, I look for critically-acclaimed films that attempt to convey universal, often Biblical, truths within stories that are both creative and compelling. I particularly enjoy films with unintended Christian themes; God has blessed these filmmakers with talent, and He is using them to spread His message whether they know it or not!
It should be noted that, although most of the works we will study are not by Christian writers/filmmakers, Christ will always be at the center of what is being taught. As Christians, we need to know the language being spoken in the world in which we live in order that we may get in the conversation and share our worldview. By studying different types of people in different types of circumstances, we seek to understand them, not necessarily emulate them. No images of nudity will ever be shown, nor scenes with any gratuitous sexual references, violence, or language.
Every six-week grading period, a progress report will come home with the student. On the progress report, the parent/guardian will see assignments and the culminating six-week average. The following is a list of those days that progress reports will be going home:
1st = October 15th
2nd = December 2nd
· A student who is absent from class has the responsibility of finding out the assignments, handouts, notes, etc. from the teacher or from another student (assignments and class activities are listed on the school website, www.milwaukeelutheranhs.org, under Academics/Departments/English/Mr. Sapiro’s Homework).
· Assignments due the day of the absence, which were previously understood as being assigned, are due when the student returns to class.
· Assignments given during the days of absence will be allowed a days extension for each day of absence.
· These policies include absences due to field trips for other classes.
· Late work is given a point reduction of 10% for every day it is late.
· Late work is defined as that work NOT submitted when specifically collected during the class period.
· A student who has not completed his/her assignment within a week’s time will receive an Academic Citation and be required to meet with me to determine how to get back on track.
· Cheating is the deliberate or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, technology, study aides, or unauthorized group work on assignments, projects, tests, or other academic exercises during class or outside of class. The student is responsible for consulting with the teacher concerning whether group work may be permissible. Any attempt to give or receive improper assistance is cheating.
· Representing or attempting to represent oneself as another or having or attempting to have oneself represented by another in the taking of a test, preparation of an assignment, or other similar activity constitutes cheating.
· Examples of cheating include the following:
· Forging a signature for the purpose of earning credit in a class
· Providing access to materials or information so that credit may be dishonestly claimed by others
· Creating and distributing copies of one’s own work so that credit may be dishonestly claimed by others
· Giving or receiving unauthorized assistance on an assessment (test, quiz, homework)
· Falsifying or altering grade-related documents, programs, or information
· Disciplinary measures will be taken as noted in the school policy.
HOW TO REACH ME
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Telephone: (414) 461-6000, x259
- Free Periods: 1st, 8th
- Extra Help: Scheduled individually as needed.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ME
· I am here to help you. Never hesitate to come to me with any questions, problems or concerns you may have about anything, school-related or not.
· I believe learning should be enjoyable, so I will do everything in my power to make this class interesting and fun (yes, FUN!).
· I want to know who you are and what you stand for, so be prepared to THINK and SHARE…effectively communicating ideas is what this class is all about.
· I try to view everything in this world through the lens of the Bible, so I will consistently refer to God’s Word and how it relates to what we are studying.
· I have been known to lapse into various character voices from time-to-time; in the event that this happens during your class, do not call for help as I can assure you that I am completely sane…at least the voices in my head tell me I am. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!
· The previous item was just a little joke. Do not be afraid.
· No, really, it’s okay. You’ll be fine. Why so serious?