Arts 214 ~ European Cinema
Films of France
Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30 to 4:20
Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30 to 2:20
Instructor: Karen Zahorchak Office: SCI Z61
Email: email@example.com Office Hours: By appointment
A film may or may not be:
- a piece of art
- a personal narrative
- social commentary
- a political statement
- a product of a culture
- a historical record
- escapist fantasy
- any and all of the above.
Many of us are used to watching films as a form of relaxation and entertainment; we may see
the act of watching movies as a way of taking a break from the world around us, absorbing
sounds and images without really thinking about them, at least not consciously. There is, of
course, value in this kind of passive viewing. This class, however, will focus on encouraging
you to actively view films. This is a discussion-based (not lecture-based) film analysis class.
We will view two films each week, with each film followed by a discussion of the issues the
film raises as well as the film’s historical importance and social commentary. The course will
also include an introductory study of film criticism and analysis. By developing an
understanding of how film communicates as well as what film communicates—in other
words, the kinds of values and beliefs embedded in any particular film, you should gain a
more analytical and critical approach to the appreciation of film.
This semester, the course will focus on the films of France. Although five weeks only allows
enough time for a broad overview, the films chosen for screening this summer are intended to
expose students to some of the most celebrated directors and films in the history of French
Required Course Materials
Understanding Movies, 11th edition by Louis Giannetti. It is available in the campus
5 reaction/response papers 30%
Formal Paper #1: Comparative Study 20%
Formal Paper #2: Film Analysis 20%
Group presentation/discussion: 15%
Before every film screening, I will provide you with a handout of potential discussion
questions for the following class. These questions will serve as prompts for your short
response papers. You will be required to hand in a total of 5 short response papers over the
course of the semester. You may choose which films you want to respond to. If you choose to
write a response paper, you should choose only one question from the list of questions to
respond to, and your response papers should be handed in to me at the beginning of the next
These responses (2 pages in length) should be presented as hard copy (NOT emailed),
typed and double-spaced, edited for spelling and grammar, with standard sized font (12
pt) and margins, and each must be submitted to Turnitin. Please be sure to include the
question you are responding to at the top of the first page or your paper will not be
accepted. Unstapled papers will be penalized. As with any academic writing, if you use
outside sources to help you develop your ideas, these sources must be cited (either MLA
or APA format).
Although these short papers may be informal in nature, there are certain guidelines you will
want to follow. A successful response paper will:
Demonstrate original thought, not just state the obvious.
Not merely repeat what someone else has said about the film.
Have a clear main point, or thesis.
Be focused (answering the specific question at hand, not bringing up new and
Go beyond class discussion by elaborating on or extending key points or questions.
Be well organized and proofread.
Provide specific examples from the film to support main points.
Provide creative, academic analysis of the film, not simply summarize it.
Not just give examples, but show the significance of those examples.
Formal Paper #1: Comparative study
For this assignment, I would like you to view and analyze three films of your choice.
You may choose either to focus on three films within the same genre (by three
different directors) or three films by the same director. In either case, one of the three
films must have been viewed in class; the other two should not be on our screening list
and must be viewed independently. This paper should focus on the elements of the
films you deem most significant (cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing, etc.) and
should demonstrate a clear understanding of terminology as well as meet the same
criteria listed above. The length requirement for this assignment is 5 pages minimum,
and the paper must be submitted to Turnitin.
Formal Paper #2: Film analysis
Rather than analyzing selected elements of several films, for this assignment, I am
asking you to focus on one film viewed in class and examine the entire range of
technical elements reviewed in this course. This paper should meet the same criteria
listed above. The length requirement for this assignment is a minimum of 5 pages as
well; it must also be submitted to Turnitin.
Group presentation and Leading of the discussion:
At the beginning of class every Monday and Wednesday (Weeks 2-4), a group of three
students will be scheduled to present the film being screened that day. This 30-minute
presentation will require you to:
1) introduce the film’s director and discuss the types of films this director is
noted for, the movement that this filmmaker is a part of, and the approach to
filmmaking (e.g. the style) and any innovations (s)he is known for; the
film’s historical significance and its critical acclaim;
2) briefly introduce the story (do not summarize the plot), including the
main character(s) and the setting; relate historical information about the era
and/or events and/or issues depicted in the film and any other information
(particularly societal and/or cultural) necessary for a thorough
understanding of the film;
3) discuss the most notable technical aspects of the film, particularly the one
being addressed in the weekly reading assignment.
In the following class, this same group of students is responsible for leading the
discussion of the film. Students will be permitted to form their own groups and choose
their preferred presentation/discussion date, based on the screening schedule.
Presentation grades will be comprised of both individual student grades (2/3) and the
average of group members’ grades (1/3).
Participation/Homework: Because this is a discussion-driven, not a lecture-driven
course, you will be expected to participate by being attentive and prepared to take part
in class discussion. To do this, you will, of course, have to read the required texts and
view the films. Your participation grade will be based on your contribution to the
course. Students will receive a participation grade for each film discussion.
* Quizzes may be implemented if it is obvious that students are not doing the required
reading. If reading quizzes are necessary, they will become a required and graded
component of class participation.
A = 100 – 93% B+ = 89 – 87% C+ = 79 – 77% D+ = 69 – 67%
A- = 92 – 90% B = 86 – 83% C = 76 – 73% D = 66 – 60%
B- = 82 – 80% C- = 72 – 70% F = 59 – 0%
Film Screenings and Audience Etiquette
Film screenings will be held every Monday and Wednesday and should be treated with
the same attentiveness and respect expected of any other class session. While watching
movies is a fun and entertaining activity, you should also think of each film as a “text”
worthy of close study just as a complex written text might be. Because this course will
teach you how to actively watch films, you will be expected to watch each film in its
entirety, to concentrate on what you see and hear, and to take mental and written notes
to help you with class discussion or writing a response paper. Anyone seen talking,
reading, sleeping, working on other class assignments, playing with cell phones, or
otherwise disrupting the class may be asked to leave and given an absence. Please avoid
walking in and out of the classroom during film screenings. Remember that
participation also includes being a good audience.
Additional Course Guidelines and Expectations
Keep up with work and expectations. It is your responsibility to read the syllabus
carefully and completely and to keep track of assignments and deadlines. “I was
absent,” or “I did not read the syllabus” are not acceptable excuses for not meeting
Behave respectfully toward the instructor and your fellow students. Come to
class on time. Please turn off your mobile phones before entering the classroom and
keep them out of sight during class. Keep the classroom clean. If you behave
disrespectfully by conversing with those around you, having side conversations while
others are speaking, sleeping, using cell phones, or otherwise disrupting the class, you
may be asked to leave and given an absence. This can be avoided by using a
common understanding of politeness and respect for both your instructor and your
Communicate professionally and politely with your instructor. You should send
email to your instructor only about questions that cannot be answered by using the
resources you already have (e.g., your syllabus, the instructor’s written directions, or
KUAIS). When you do communicate with your instructor via email, be sure that your
message is composed of clear, grammatically correct complete sentences. All emails
should be addressed in a professional manner (“Dear …”) and must include your full
name, course, and section number.
Submit neat and professional work.
Plagiarism and collusion Policy:
Plagiarism is using someone else’s writing without acknowledging that usage by including
the necessary documentation. Collusion is receiving unauthorised help with your writing. Any
student found to have resorted to plagiarism or collusion in writing assignments will fail the
assignment, fail the course and/or be referred to the university’s disciplinary council which
may result in suspension from the university.
You commit plagiarism when:
You copy someone else's writing and do not put it in quotation marks and identify the
You take someone else's writing and/or ideas, change some of the words, and do not
identify the source.
You take someone else's ideas/examples or sequence of ideas/examples, put them into
your own words, and do not identify the source.
Someone else writes your assignments or changes your writing and thus creates a
false impression of your abilities.
You engage in collusion by receiving unauthorized help with your writing by paying or
otherwise inducing another person to do the writing for you.
If at any point you are unsure whether or not your writing would be considered plagiarism or
collusion, please do not hesitate to ask. Remember that receiving a low score for your own
writing is always better than turning in plagiarized work at the risk of failing the entire course,
or worse—being reported to the university’s disciplinary council.
Class attendance is required. Each student is allowed 2 absences excused or unexcused from
class without penalty. If you are absent 3 times your grade will be reduced 5%, 4 times 10%,
5 times 15%, 6 times 20%. After 6 times, you will fail the class. If you do miss class, for
whatever reason, it is your responsibility to find out what happened and to be prepared for the
following class. If you miss a film screening, for example, you will not be able to participate
in discussion of that film in the following class. Concerning lateness, every third lateness will
count as an absence. Consult with your instructor if you believe there are extenuating
circumstances which are preventing you from attending class.
Dates Topic / Film Screenings Activities
Class 1: Introduction The 400 Blows Truffaut (1959)
Class 2: Film Discussion
Class 3: Eyes Without a Face Franju (1960)
Class 4: Film Discussion
Class 5: Ch.1: La Chinoise Godard (1967) Group Oral Presentation (Group 1)
Class 6: Film Discussion
Class 7: Ch. 2: Le Boucher Chabrol (1970) Group Oral Presentation (Group 2)
Class 8: Film Discussion
Class 9: Ch. 3: Au Revoir Les Enfants Malle (1987) Group Oral Presentation (Group 3)
Class 10: Film Discussion
Class 11: Ch. 4: The Lovers on the Bridge Carax (1991) Group Oral Presentation (Group 4)
Class 12 Film Discussion
Formal Paper #1 Due
Class 13: Ch 5: Delicatessen Jeunet (1991) Group Oral Presentation (Group 5)
Class 14: Film Discussion
Class 15: Ch. 11 La Haine/Hate Kassovitz (1995) Group Oral Presentation (Group 6)
Class 16: Film Discussion
Class 17: Ch.8: The Dreamlife of Angels Zonca (1998)
Class 18: Film Discussion
Class 19: Kings and Queen Desplechin (2004)
Class 20: Film Discussion
Formal Paper #2 Due
Useful websites for this course:
http://www.imdb.com Internet Movie Database
http://www.filmsite.org/ Interpretive and descriptive, detailed synopses, review
commentary, and film reference material, and historical background
http://www.bfi.org.uk British Film Institute
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/FilmRefMenu.html#history lots of film related
links to all kinds of reference material