Film finally gets respect in the classroom

By Staff Writer
March 22, 2001

by Tracy Timson
staff writer

This year’s film appreciation class meets in Founders Hall, room 279, every Monday and Wednesday from 12:30- 1:45 p.m. It is different than that of an average class; instead of studying those thick heavy books, these students are studying film. According to first time professor of this course, Neal Newman, all these students come to class “with a love for film.” The mission of this course, in Newman’s eyes, is to increase film appreciation and to understand the history in order to further enjoy the films.

“Variety was an important thing for this course,” Newman said. If you do not like science fiction films you would not be required to watch all science fiction films. Accessibility was the next problem. “The students had to be able to rent the movies we were studying so they had to be well known,” Newman said.

The film appreciation class analyzes films such as “Citizen Kane,” which according to Newman is taught in any film course. Other films such as “It Happened One Night,” one of the earliest romantic comedies and “Broken Blossoms,” a 1920 classic are also shown. There’s nothing to fear for those students who dread watching older movies because “Run Lola Run,” which was shown in the Theatre last year, was also shown during this course.

Students are given the choice to see one movie in the Theatre and analyze it. Although these newer films are also shown, Newman hopes that “when it is over, the students will not just hop to the new releases” when renting a video.

Student reaction to this class has been positive while Newman realizes that “they tend to react to how well they like the movie being taught.” The students in this class have not had a lot of experience with older films, according to Newman, so they need to realize that they move a little slower. However, Newman is noticing that they are starting to realize this and are enjoying the movies more.

Newman’s hope for the future of this course is to teach a more advanced course. This more advanced course would focus more on a certain filmmaker or type of movie. There would be no prerequisite for this course, but students should have some understanding of film technique. His first choice would be to have a film class that focused on D.W. Griffith and Orson Wells. “I would rather concentrate on the work of two geniuses than a variety of films,” Newman said.

His advice to students searching through their course catalogs and attempting taking a film course: “Do you like movies? Would you like to have more fun and get more out of every film that you see?” If you answered yes to either of these questions, film appreciation is a course you might want to consider.

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