Course Syllabus

FILM STUDIES                                      Mr. Welden               

 Goals: By the end of the semester, you will

  • Possess a better understanding of film history
  • See some interesting movies you otherwise might not have
  • Broaden and refine your taste in movies
  • Better understand the process of filmmaking


Class Participation (25-40% of your grade)

Most of this grade is simply watching the movies.  By watching, though, I mean really watching.  Let yourself be drawn into the movie and go along for the emotional ride.  Don’t be cynical or detached; stay open minded and give the movie a chance.  Try to notice details and (later) ask yourself why the director included them.  Of course, class participation also means contributing ideas, asking good questions, listening when others are talking, and generally just being involved.  Lastly, I will ask you to fill out brief response sheets on most days.  Those are worked into the class participation grade.


Written Responses to the Movies (50-70% of your grade)

Some responses will be written in class, some at home.  To some extent, I will tell you what to focus on.  

But I don’t want to limit you, so I also want you to share any thoughts or observations you have. 

Responses are graded on the following, in order of priority:

  • You seem mentally and emotionally engaged with the movie.  You show an awareness of details, of characters’ attitudes and perspectives, etc.  Do more than summarize the plot.  Show me that you thought about the movie.  I love reading a student response and thinking, “Wow, I never noticed that!” or, “I never thought about it that way!”
  • Length  (Usually, 300 words is your aiming point.)
  • Quality of Writing (organization, good sentences, etc.)


Reading, Quizzes, and Other Assignments (10-20% of your grade)

Occasionally, we’ll have other tasks, like vocabulary quizzes, responding to articles or essays, drawing a short storyboard, etc. 


Final Exam: The final exam focuses primarily on the movies, and it counts as 20% of your final grade.


R-rated Films

A few of the 35 or so movies we watch are R-rated—most often for violence.  I will let you know ahead of time about any potentially offensive or disturbing material, and I may edit out some scenes.  I encourage you to ask me for an alternative assignment if you would prefer not to watch a particular movie.  I plan to show most of the movies below:

  • Amelie (2001)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  • Downfall (2004)
  • Godfather (1972)
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1967)
  • Psycho (1960)