Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 2, 2008

Independent study exploring classic film

Students convened Tuesday night in CFA’s Round Room for a showing of Citizen Kane, as part of an independent study course being taught by Assistant Professor of English Emily Anderson, called “10 Movies We Pretend We’ve Seen.” Kara Krewer and Jenna Dercole, both juniors, are enrolled in the course, which is being TA’d by Brittany Alsot.

Dercole, Krewer and Alsot meet every Tuesday night at 7:30 to watch the selected films. They participate in post-movie discussions, and are also assigned to hand in write-ups of each film’s cultural significance.

As Anderson said, “I’m really excited because this means I have the chance to talk about a number of films I love, even if they don’t fit into my Intro to Film class.”

The course features films that have been widely hailed as classics, and as Anderson said, “People do not watch these particular films nearly as often as they talk about them.”

Krewer, on a similar note, said, “People generally need more exposure to the canon of classic films, which have helped to define both moviemaking and our culture. I’m looking forward to seeing some of these for the first time.”

The ten films, selected by Anderson, are those which are believed to have had a major cultural impact, as well as pushed the stylistic boundaries of film-making — such as September 23’s featured film, Citizen Kane, which has the distinction of being listed at the top of AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies. The film has often been praised for its revolutionary camera angles, and as Krewer pointed out, other stylistic stamps such as “…the way Kane frequently appears reflected upon many surfaces, which highlights the fact that we rarely see the ‘real’ Charles Kane.”

The first film analyzed by the class was Gone with the Wind, followed by Citizen Kane, and the most recent Tuesday presentation was Casablanca. The remaining movies slated for screening include North By Northwest, Psycho, The Graduate, The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Annie Hall. Anderson is hard-pressed to pick favorites, but she said, “I’m particularly excited myself to see All About Eve and Annie Hall again.”

When asked what constitutes a great movie, qualities reflected in these chosen ten, Alsot said, “A great movie is a film that tells a story that continues to be relevant throughout many generations, and tells it in a way that utilizes the capacities of film to its fullest.”

Yet, although the students are very excited about the course, the film studies program at Knox is still a work in progress.

“We are currently working on faculty development to educate professors on how to teach film studies, in order to create a cohesive film studies minor, and we are also brainstorming different ways to get films shown,” Alsot said.

Krewer would like to see movie showings eventually become more popular at Knox, outside of the classroom setting as well as within. She made the observation that “Union Board will sponsor comedian acts, but they rarely show movies,” another hope for change in the future.

Deanna Wendel


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