Course Expectations

    What follows here is the outline that I give to students on the day the course begins.  It is the clearest way of outlining course expectations. Film and Life Issues is a course that may not be for everyone. This helps students understand something of what they are in for.  It reminds students that the course is not just a comfortable place to watch movies every day, but that in fact there are pretty high expectations for how we watch film and what is required beyond the seeing. The outline should help perspective students to make a determination about whether or not the course might meet their needs.
    Film and Life Issues                                                                            

    What did you sign up for?


    I don’t want anyone to have any illusions about this course. This is primarily a course about life issues as they are exposed in film. Ultimately, the course will be more about you and your perspectives than it is about film. If you took it because it sounded like a good dark quiet place where you could sleep and not be bothered, I can assure you that you are in the wrong place. I have every intention of “bothering” you and you won’t ever be able to close your eyes. It is a course that requires your engagement through every phase as described below in the section entitled your role. The success or failure of a course like this depends heavily on our ability to bring something to it. When this course is over, I need to be convinced that it had an effect on the people taking at it, or I won’t offer it again.


    My Role…


    To present provocative films. To provide opportunities for discourse with each other about the films and more importantly about the issues they raise. To encourage self-reflection and an ability to see “The Bigger Picture”.  



    Your Role


    1-Read Films


    The films I bring in will be films which inspire you. They will get you to think a little bit outside the box. I won’t show a film unless I think it is in some way provocative. I want you to be different after you see the film than you were before you saw it. For this reason it is essential for you to be present and alert. Students cannot be allowed to sleep or put their heads down during movies. Students cannot be allowed to talk or work on other homework. You cannot passively watch films. You have to actively read them, and the degree to which I’m convinced that you are engaging in the process of reading the film will form a sizable portion of your grade. For each film, I will give you a Reading the Film Worksheet, where you’ll jot down ideas that strike you. Here you’ll make note of issues raised, scenes or lines that struck you or that you feel touch significantly on some important idea, and discussion questions that the movie raises.






     This is the reason I want to teach this course. Discourse. I want us to be engaged in meaningful conversations about important ideas. I want you to walk out of here having spoken your mind and having listened to others. I want for your life (your hearts and your minds) to have been changed because you were here, and if I really get my way, you will know yourself better than you did before we started, and you will have developed important perspectives about life and living.



    3-The Review (Summary, Critic’s Corner, Analysis and Conclusions)


    Summary: You begin with a succinct summary of the plot of the story that encapsulates (either or both a synopsis of major plot movements and or character developments.


    Critic’s Corner:. This will be your opportunity to be Roger Ebert. This is your chance to say thumbs up or thumbs down. No-one has to like every, or for that matter, any film I show, but every one does have to give a good strong critical analysis of the film. You have to have solid reasons for supporting a film and solid reasons for not supporting it. You’ll need to watch films with a critical eye. You need to be able to point to specific scenes and episodes and explain why you believe the film succeeds or fails. You might also be asked to react to the work of other critics pertaining to particular films.



    Analysis and Conclusions: In writing these reviews, there will be an opportunity for you to think introspectively about each film and the topics we have discussed. Here, with the benefit of the class discussions and the Critics Corner, you will be asked to write in a more reflective way about how you were affected by the film and what you may have learned about the important issues raised. Here, after pointing to what you believe are the major issues explored in the film, you might reflect on your own vision for living. To me, this piece of writing will be the most critical piece because it will force you to analyze your own perspectives in light of the film and our discussions. It is here that you will decide what, if anything you have learned. It is here, I hope, that you will learn something about yourself that you can name!