ESSAY 1 - ESSAY #1: WHY STUDY FILM? Copyright Frank...

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ESSAY #1: WHY STUDY FILM? Copyright Frank Scheide, 2003 I. Why Study Film? We have watched films all of our lives. Does anyone really need to take “lessons” to view a movie? One reason that film has been so successful as a medium of communication is because it makes information so accessible. Even infants can respond to TV programs like those featuring the teletubbies without the need for any specialized training. Despite being able to relate to the teletubbies, small children do not respond to this material with the same degree of sophistication as an adult. In the same sense, while we can easily access a film or television message, are we recognizing all the information it is conveying? Many of us do not always consider how the properties of the film medium affect our viewing experience. How well do we understand the way film works as a medium of communication? How clearly do we understand the “language” of film? We certainly can appreciate the special effects of the latest blockbuster like Lord of the Rings. How much do we consciously consider the manner in which a given director uses such cinematic elements as “camerawork” and “editing” to draw us into the world created on the screen? Are there other aspects of this medium being used to convey information that we may or may not be considering when watching a motion picture? For example, how does a projector transform a series of still images imprinted on celluloid and give them motion? Why is it that we comprehend these pictures as “moving” rather than see them as a series of still images? While film viewing may seem to be a fairly straightforward and simple activity, these questions suggest that there may be more to watching a movie than “meets the eye”. Nearly everyone can watch most movies and legitimately claim to understand them, but the quality of the viewing experience can vary greatly from individual to individual. The better one understands how film is used as a medium of communication, the greater the understanding that person will have about what is being communicated. For most of us, there is more to the film viewing experience than entertainment. Ever since it was first introduced to the public in the latter part of the 19 th century, the motion picture has been used to inform and to
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persuade as well as to entertain. News broadcasts utilize moving images to communicate what is happening in our world on a daily basis. Most people rely on television for at least some of their knowledge of what is happening in the world. The better we understand how a medium of communication communicates, the better we can interpret the information being conveyed. Film is also used for propaganda. Television commercials continuously attempt to convince us that we should buy various products or behave in a particular fashion. Politicians and special interest groups use motion pictures to try and persuade us to follow certain patterns of thought. How often do we accept ideas communicated on film or television that we might,
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course FILM LECTU 1103 taught by Professor Student during the Spring '08 term at Arkansas.

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ESSAY 1 - ESSAY #1: WHY STUDY FILM? Copyright Frank...

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