Intro to Film, Film 2, Film 3 Syllabus

    Introduction to Film, Film 2, Film 3

Cameron Murray     Key West High School     Phone: 293-1549 EXT. 411


Class website:

Office hours: Tuesdays, 2:30-3:00pm


These courses are designed as introductory and advanced levels of film appreciation, consisting of: history of film and filmmaking, inventions, genres, film critique and analysis, design, music, current film trends, directors, actors, and public response.

Unit One- The Early Development of the Motion Picture and Key Concepts inFilm Study

Essential Questions: What was entertainment before film? How did film begin? What is a genre? What techniques are used to enhance the authenticity of the message? What is the role of storytelling in filmmaking? How does film reflect our culture?

Film Key Explorations:

Early Cinema Experiments (Thomas Edison, Lumiere Brothers), The Great Train Robbery (Edwin Porter), (Buster Keaton Shorts (Buster Keaton), Early Films of George Melies, The Kid (Charlie Chaplin), The Artist (Michel Hazanvicius)

Unit Two- Animation: The True Cinema

Essential Questions: How is animation created? How do people express themselves through animation today? How has animation changed through time?

Film Key Explorations:

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson), Gertie the Dinosaur (Winsor McKay), Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney), Pixar Shorts, Wall-e (Andrew Stanton),

Unit Three- Film Genre: Horror Classics

Essential Questions: What are the basic elements of the horror film as drama? What is conveyed through character action, visual elements, or dialogue? What aspects of a horror film are plausible? What is unique about the horror genre? Are we to play God? Does the movie startle you, make you anxious, get your heart pumping, or just plain gross you out?

Film Key Explorations:

Frankenstein (Whale), Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme), Poltergeist (Ron Hooper), Zombieland (James Franchon), The Shining (Stanley Kubrick)

Unit Four- The Hollywood Gangster as the Antihero

Essential Questions: Who is the hero of this film?  How do you identify him/her?  Who did you think the hero was at first?  Who is the most likable character in this film? With whom do you identify in this program?  Why are stereotypes used in non-fiction films?  Is this a realistic or unrealistic representation of a gangster? What are the roles and responsibilities of citizens and government in a war against crime?

Film Key Explorations:

White Heat (Raoul Walsh), Scarface (Howard Hawks), The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola), The Untouchables (Brian de Palma)

Unit Five- Film Noir: The Darker Side

Essential Questions: What is film noir? What formal conventions distinguish film noir from other genres? What are the most common thematic concerns of the film noir genre?  In what ways do classic noir films reflect the societal/political concerns of their era of origin?  How do contemporary films noir reshape, revise and pay homage to the formal and thematic conventions of the classics of the 40s and 50s?

Film Key Explorations:

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock), Casablanca (Michael Curtiz), Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder) Memento (Christopher Nolan)

Unit Six- The Jungle Setting

Essential Questions:  Why is the setting of a story important? How does the setting create a secondary character? Is the story strong enough to survive a change in setting?

Film Key Explorations:

Tarzan the Ape Man (W. S. Van Dyke), Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg)

Unit Seven- Satire: No One is Exempt

Essential Questions: How is theme distinct in satire?  What is the relationship of irony to satire? of irony to parody?  How does satire contribute to imagining the present?  Why must the familiar be “made strange”?

Film Key Explorations:

Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks), Pleasantville (Gary Ross), Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman)

Unit Eight- Film Classics and Best Pictures

Essential Question: What makes a film classic?

Key Explorations:

Gladiator (Ridley Scott), Schlinder’s List (Steven Spielberg), Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming), Titanic (James Cameron)

Unit Nine- International Cinema

Essential Questions: How is the point of view unique to the foreign film makers? Is it a universal message?  Can the setting/sort be changed and still maintain the original intent?

Film Key Explorations:

Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tomatore)

Unit Ten- Documentary, Propaganda, and Political Statements

Essential Questions:  How do people distinguish between fact and opinion? What are the processes involved in constructing a persuasive message?  How does the media present a point of view about a person, idea, or event?

Film Key Explorations:

Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore), Exit Thru the Gift Shop (Bansky)

Unit Eleven- Blurring Reality: The Magical, Fantastic, and Surreal in Film

Essential Questions: What is the relationship between fiction and truth? How did students feel during this program?  What techniques did the producers use to evoke this response?  What kinds of viewers might be confused about the blurring of fiction and non-fiction elements in this program?

Film Key Explorations:

Big Fish (Tim Burton), Beetlejuice (Tim Burton), Finding Neverland (Marc Forster), The Truman Show (Peter Weir)

Unit Twelve- Popular Cinema for the Masses

Essential Question: What makes a film appeal to the masses? Is the story strong enough for a sequel?

Film Key Explorations:

E.T: The Extra Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg), Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis), The Descendants (Alexander Payne), The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan), Inception (Christopher Nolan),  The Lion King (Roger Allers), Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich), Avatar (James Cameron), Bourne Identity (Doug Liman), The Help (Tate Taylor)

Supplemental films

2006 Academy Awards Shorts    20TH Century Fox- The First 50 Years

20TH Century Fox: The Blockbuster Years    A Beautiful Mind    A Christmas Story

A Few Good Men    AFI’s 100 Stars    AFI’s 100 Years of Movies    Amadeus

Apollo 13    Austin Powers    Awakenings    Back to the Future

Best Years of Our Lives    Blazing Saddles    Bonnie and Clyde     City Island

Braveheart    Chaplin    Chicago    Cider House Rules    Citizen Cane

Dirty Harry    Double Indemnity     Fargo     The Fighter     Edward Scissorhands

Eight Men Out    Felix the Cat    Ferris Buehler    Few Good Men    Frida

From Here to Eternity    Gandhi    Ghostbusters    Goldfinger    Green Mile

Invictus    Jaws    Legend of Sleepy Hollow    Life is Beautiful    Metropolis

Midnight in Paris    Misery    Monster’s Inc.    Monty Python and the Holy Grail

My Cousin Vinnie    Network    Phantom of the Opera    Plan 9 from Outer Space

Planet of the Apes     Psycho    Quiz Show    Rain Man    Rear Window

Rebel Without A Cause     Singin' In the Rain      Sleeper     Reversal of Fortune

Rocky    Saving Private Ryan    Scent of a Woman    Selena    Shawshank Redemption

Slumdog Millionaire    Social Network    Some Like It Hot    Spirited Away

Star Wars     Strangers on a Train    Sweeney Todd     The Birds    The Fighter

The Godfather     The Graduate     The Great Dictator     The Italian Job

The King’s Speech     The Movie Begins Series     The Omen     The Prestige

The Universal Studio Story    Usual Suspects

Films subject to change due to availability

 Grades are assigned on the following basis:

CLASS WORK/PROJECTSThis work consists of worksheets, written or sketch work, class projects, etc., that are usually due at the end of class.  Also included will be film Biography presentations and Film Summary days.

TESTSTests are given on all the reading material and work presented in the class (including film notes and observations).  I review all of the test material within two (2) days prior to the exam  Don not miss these days, as you will not be excused from the test because of your absence.  The tests will have multiple formats, including short answer, essay, multiple choice, matching, etc. If you are absent on the day of the test, you are to take it the day you return- but do not expect the same exam given on the scheduled test date.

FILM RESEARCH/PRESENTATION PROJECTS:   This consists of a four or five part, individual research paper/project/presentation of a specific film.  Details will be provided when the assignment is given but please note:  These projects are assigned at least 3 weeks prior to due date.  They are due on or before your assigned date.  If you are absent on your assigned date, the project is still due.  In this instance, no late projects will be accepted.

HOMEWORKHomework will include but is not limited to research, worksheets, reading assignments, etc.  Homework may also include the return of signed documents, i.e., course syllabus, classroom procedures, video permission forms, progress reports, etc. 

Homework is due at the beginning of the class

Late homework is accepted with this caveat:  1 day late (this includes work turned in later that same day) = 1 one grade level subtracted, then 1 grade level each subsequent day late

If you are absent when assigned homework is due, Homework will be due on the day you return.  Assigned homework missed due to an absence will be accepted no later than two (2) days after you return to school.

CLASS DISCUSSION: - Observing and conversing with the teacher and other students in an attentive and respectful manner. This includes “Active- Performing or Doing.”  This includes film viewing and film notes, or any “Primetime” work to be turned in.

CLASS WORK MAKE UP POLICYAny student may find me in my classroom before school, 7:15-7:30 am, to get any work they have missed.  Do not ask for material during class time.  This is also the only time I will discuss student grades, progress, etc.


     Introduction to Film, Film 2, Film 3

Cameron Murray     Key West High School     Phone: 293-1549 EXT. 411


Class website:


Dear Parent or Guardian,


            These courses are designed as an introductory and advanced level of film appreciation, consisting of: history of film and filmmaking, inventions, genres, film critique and analysis, design, music, current film trends, directors, actors, and public response.  All work assignments will be posted on the class website:

 I ask that you review the course syllabus and sign the form below to allow your child to view these films.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

 Thank you,

 Cameron Murray

 I have reviewed the course syllabus and my daughter or son

________________________________________ (child’s name) has permission to view the films. 

 _______________________________                                  ________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature                                                      Date





Student Signature