Welcome to Cinema as Literature! Scroll down to find important documents that you will need!
    Name: Sunny Hipp
    Email Address: shipp@murrieta.k12.ca.us
    Phone number: (951) 894-5750 ext. 6728

    Hello and welcome to Cinema! Dates to Remember
    August 17th B: Please have syllabus signed and return it to me (quiz in class) and new film notes
    Film Notes:
    Cinema as Literature Syllabus and Information Packet


    Vista Murrieta High School


    Can you identify these film quotes?


    “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys.  Make your lives extraordinary>”

    “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

    “Hey Blondie, you know what you are?”


    Cinema as Literature meets the district graduation requirement for elective credit.  The class is designed to show students how film is a form of literature.  By viewing classic and modern film, students will learn that good film, like good literature, has certain elements in common.  Students will be expected to understand motifs, symbols, metaphors, allusions, plot, theme, and other literary elements as they relate to both film and literature.  In addition, students will develop an appreciation for the interaction of film elements such as scripting, directing, acting, producing, lighting, sound, music, editing, cinematography, special effects, set design and costuming.  Students will learn to recognize such film genres as drama, comedy, western, science-fiction, mystery, action/adventure, and animation.  Students will use their knowledge of the various elements of cinema to analyze and critique films studied in class.  This will be accomplished through discussions, compositions, projects and evaluations.  Students will use a variety of writing forms that include: note taking, paragraph analysis, and formal essays. 


    Expected Student Learning Results/ UC/CSU (A-G) Requirements:

    Students will:

    1.0   Identify literary concepts in film such as motifs, symbols, metaphors, allusions, and plot elements.

    2.0   Identify and critique elements of film.

    3.0   Define and distinguish various film genres.

    4.0   Analyze and critique films orally and in written compositions.

    5.0   Demonstrate and ability to compose critical and analytical essays.

    6.0   Utilize the writing process to compose, revise, and edit compositions.

    7.0   Utilize multimedia projects for demonstrating an understanding of the elements of film.


    Outline of Content for Major Areas of Study:


    Semester I: A. Introduction to film history, terms and analysis. (Study of Chaplin)

    1. Timeline
    2. Production steps
    3. Master scene technique
    4. Continuity
    5. Suspension of disbelief


    B. Literary terms for film analysis: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Rear Window, The Hudsucker Proxy, A River Runs Through It, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Casablanca

    1. Protagonist/Antagonist

    2. Narrative technique

    3. Plot: exposition/conflict/climax/resolution

    4. POV

    5. Theme/Symbolism/Imagery

    6. Foreshadowing/Suspense

    7. Static vs. Dynamic characters

    8. Archetypal characters

    9. Motivation

    10. Foils

    11. Allegory

    12. Irony: verbal/dramatic/situational

    13. The epic

    14. Sympathetic characterization

    15. Setting/tone


    C. Terms for film analysis

    1. Screenwriting                  8. The Mystery             17. Casting

    2. Establishing shots 9. Cinematography        18. The Western/Spaghetti        

    3. The Comedy                   10. Photo Montage

                                              11. Lyrical Film             19.  Tracking (pans/swish pans)

    4. Point of view shots          12. Falling stunts            20.  Long shots

    5. Optical effects (blue screen/digital)                       21. Lighting/shadows

    6. Rear Projection               13. The farce                22. Low/high angle shots

    7. Soft focus lens                 14. Editing

                                              15. Scoring

                                              16. Camera movement


    D. High School/Coming of Age films: American Graffiti, To Sir with Love, Dead Poet’s Society, The Breakfast Club, Donnie Darko, Stand by Me

    1.  Theme                           7. Scoring and Soundtrack

    2.  Motif                             8.  Pacing

    3. Foreshadowing                9. Carpe Diem

    4. Dialogue

    5. Style/mood/setting

    6. Symbolism


    E. Rebels as a theme: Cool Hand Luke, Bonnie and Clyde, Shawshank Redemption, Thelma and Louise, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, V for Vendetta,

    1. Anti-hero                                                      6. Theme                     11. Crane shots

    2. Sympathetic characterization                    7. Dynamic Duos

    3. Foreshadowing and Symbolism                8. End-of-the-Road

    4. Religious imagery                                        9. Soft focus lens

    5. Motif                                                             10. Squibs





    F. Happiness and Harmony: Forrest Gump, Raising Arizona, In America, E.T.,


    1. Motif/symbolism              4. Flashback

    2. Theme                                5. Projection

    3. Optical effects



    G. Monsters in Film: The Birds, Psycho, What Lies Beneath, Jaws, The Shining

    1. Personification                             5. Animatronics

    2. Dramatic/situational irony

    3. Stop motion animation

    4. Mattes/composite shots


    H. Epic Struggle: Gladiator, Sparitcus, Braveheart

    1. The Epic

    2. The reluctant hero archetype

    3. Foils

    4. Battle stunts

    5. Digital effects

    6. Historical influence/costuming


    I. Warping Time: Run Lola Run, Frequency, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sliding Doors, Back to the Future

    1. Motif/symbolism
    2. Theme
    3. Optical effects
    4. Flashback



    J.      War Films: Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, The Patriot, Black Hawk Down:

    a.       Hand held shots

    b.      Narrative

    c.       Propagandist film

    d.      Slow Motion shots

    e.      Bleaching



    J. Breaking Down Stereotypes: In the Heat of the Night, Dances with Wolves, Crash, Erin Brockovich

    1. Characterization

    2. Scoring

    3. Dialogue


    K. Looking into the Future: The Truman Show, Gattaca, The Matrix, Jurassic Park

    1. Symbolism/motif              5. Animatronics

    2. Science fiction/dystopias

    3. Optical effects

    4. CGI


    L. Documentaries: Using film to persuade, manipulate or educate: TBD


      1. Narrative                                      5. Manipulation vs. education

      2.  Bias vs. Unbiased narrator

      3.  Selling Celebrity

      4. Hand-held shooting/ plain shot


    M. Animation: Ratatouille, Spirited Away, excerpts from Animatrix, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit


    1. Narrative                      

    2. Clay animation

    3. Animation Process


    N. Accountability

    a. Teacher-generated tests

    b. Weekly assignments

    c. Writing assignments

    d. Projects


    RULES: 1 Respect, 2 Responsibilities, and 3 Readiness.

    Electronic Devices: DO NOT USE cell phones, MP3 Players, or any other electronic devices which will interfere with the learning process.  Failure to follow these instructions will result in surrendering the device to me (and I will gladly take it, as I need a new ipod :) It is important that you respect the little amount of time we have in class.  You have all afternoon to listen to your music.  If taken, you may pick it up at 2:30.  If taken twice, you may pick it up after 2: 30 and serve detention.

    Absences: According to district policy, a student who misses twenty absences (unexcused) may be failed by the instructor of the course.  Absenteeism is the number one cause of failure.  Please do not make a habit of this.  Also, ten absences (excused or unexcused) may result in a grade lowering by ten percent.

    Tardies: You will be given three excused tardies from me each semester; these will be granted with the surrendering of a bathroom pass.  

    Once you exceed that amount, you will need to make up the time with me at lunch or after school.

    Respect: It is not appropriate to disrupt class with unnecessary antics, but if you feel the impulse to shout, interrupt class with unnecessary announcements, or run around like a maniac, please let me know before this sensation affects the class.  I will ensure that you will be removed from the class for the appropriate amount of time so that your impulse may be relieved.  Please don’t let a feeble attempt for attention bring down your grade; failure to follow this procedure will result in administrative action and grade penalty.

    Bathroom Passes: If you need to go to the bathroom, sign-out and return as quickly as possible; however, you must know that with each bathroom trip, you sacrifice five participation points.  You will be given three passes at the beginning of each semester though, which may be turned in for extra credit at the end of the term. 

    Absent Work/Late Work: If you are absent the day a project/essay/ or major assignment is due; that something is still due.  Please be wary of this; as you will lose twenty-five percent of the grade by turning the work in the following class.  If you are absent the day something is assigned, you will have one class day to make up the work (this rule applies to the number of absences as well: 1 absence= 1 day, 2 absences= 2days).  Late work is accepted at ten percent off each day that it is constituted as late.  After day ten; it is worth nothing.


    Student Notebook:

    The student notebook is not only an important part of each progress report, but it also influences performance on other assignments.  Most tests are open notebook, so thorough note taking is essential.  Instructions for critiques, projects and assignments are to be kept in the notebook.  You may make up notes if you are absent the day notes are given; however, if you are present the day notes are given and have chosen to withhold from note taking, you will not receive credit for make-up notes for that day.


    Methods of Evaluation:

    Class Participation: 30%

    Writing, Projects, Quizzes, Tests: 30%

    Student Notebook: 30%

    Final: 10%


    *It is important that you never ask Ms. Shaffer or Mr. Haefer whether a film is good or bad before your first viewing.  Remember, this class is meant to help you become a critic of film; it wouldn’t be wise of you to ask us that, it is your responsibility to figure that out yourself. 


    *The following letter has been created to inform you that some of the films we will view are R rated films.  It is imperative that you understand the we make certain that your child is watching films with the themes we have set forth as the fundamental foundation of the class; if there is any questionable footage, we will make certain it is not seen.  Most R ratings we will view are due to violence (war scenes), and language.  Few of the films viewed display nudity and we omit these scenes if necessary. 





































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Last Modified on August 12, 2015