17NASModule1ArticleANoteOnViewingFilms.docx - NOTE Much of...

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NOTE: Much of what follows has been cited elsewhere on Blackboard. However, its content is essential—and I want to be certain that every student reads it—and ponders it. ______________________________________________________________________________ A NOTE ON VIEWING FILMS Just about all of the films screened in this course were produced decades ago. And with this in mind, a question comes to the fore: How is each film a reflection of history/culture-- the history it depicts or the culture from which it has emerged? The answer to this will vary from film to film. At the same time, it is imperative that each individual judges each film on its own merits. A general rule applies here: Not all “old” films, or films shot in black-and-white, are dated, corny, etc. Similarly, not all “new” films are entertaining, well-made, etc. For those who automatically assume that all "old" films-- which, these days, could date from 1920, 1940, 1960, or 1980-- are automatically corny and dated, I would ask some questions: Do you like every new film that you might see on a Saturday night at the mall? Do you ever rush off to see a film because you favor its star or it has been hyped as being entertaining, and then leave the movie house disappointed because the film has not met your expectations? Of course, you may like some-- perhaps even many-- new films, but others may disappoint. And still more may be downright awful. Well, it's the same with "older" films. Some were dreadful when first released, and have not improved with age. Others were highly regarded once upon a time, but have not aged well. Still more were highly regarded-- and remain so today. They may be funny, thrilling, insightful, etc.-- and some of these are justifiably considered classics. Another key here is the manner in which we individually respond to a film. We may like a film for different reasons, we may dislike a film-- or we may have a mixed response. But the issue is: Why we feel the way we do about a film (or, for that matter, a play, book, musical composition, etc.). It is extremely helpful to develop the ability to think critically yet thoughtfully, and to be able to respond analytically to a film. (Those of you who have taken other film courses with me will already know that this is my firm belief.) However, it must be acknowledged that Hollywood movies are made for one primary reason: To earn a profit. It is no surprise, then, that within the industry films are casually referred to as “product”-- as if they are no different from a car that is produced by an automobile manufacturer or a hat that is produced by a haberdasher. Some films exist merely as popcorn entertainment, and that is fine. If you feel overwhelmed by the day- to-day issues you may be dealing with or simply are in the mood to laugh, there is nothing wrong with losing yourself in the darkness of a movie house for a couple hours. However-- despite the fact that they are the products of a motion picture industry-- films still may deal with real-world issues. They may be reflections of history, or the culture from which they are produced. A creative filmmaker and/or screenwriter may communicate ideas and feelings to his/her audience. And the choices the individual
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