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Study Questions- Genres
1. How do Gillespie and Toynbee analyze classification and status of film genres? What are the
genre “rules’ they discuss and what are genre boundaries? How do concepts like hybridity
and intertextuality apply to the study of genres?
2. What is melodrama and how does it relate to film and other media? Can you think of a film
you have seen recently that follows the structure of the melodrama? Why does Williams
argue that melodrama is the quintessential American form? What are the components of the
melodramatic structure?
3. What are generic conventions and how do they differ from icons? What are themes and
motifs? What are archetypes?
4. Can we distinguish between science fiction and horror? Could we say that the horror genre
focuses on the body while the emphasis of science fiction is on the mind? What themes are
embraced by both genres?
5. Consider the genre films seen in class and think about their subject matter, thematic
concerns, characterizations, formulas, visual settings, etc. How do formulas work to
construct genre plots? What are generic conventions and how do they differ from icons?
How do the films we have seen in class reveal the ideological premises and the ethical values
of the communities that produced them?
6. In Pam Cook's brief introduction to authorship in cinema how does she historically and
ideologically position the debate over art and creativity? How does she summarize
Bordwell's position on ambiguity in art cinema? (For the full article by Bordwell on art
cinema please see the reader).
7. How can we define “style” in film? Can you identify some stylistic traits in the films seen in
class? Have you seen any other films by Bong, Varda, Kubrick, or Welles? Do you have a
favorite director? Why?
8. If the auteur theory values a director's personal expression how can auteurs exist in the
Hollywood system, a system that depends on formulas? How should personal vision
(authorship) and cultural roots (generic formulas) be taken into consideration?
Terms: Explicit Implicit- Referential- Symptomatic meaning
Genre/ Theme/Motif/Archetype Antinomy Icons/genre iconography
Genre conventions/genre expectations
Myth Cultural Context
1. Consider any of the documentaries seen in class. How does the film convey meaning?
Briefly point to some of the most important elements of the film’s narration, paying
particular attention to devices such as voice-over narration, formal parallels,
opening/closing patterns.
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2. Watching the documentaries screened in class, did you feel that the filmmaker was
taking a clear position on the issues relating to ecological disruption? What elements of
the film conveyed the impression? How does the filmmaker frame the question? What
formal aspects are involved? What structuring devices does the filmmaker use?
3. What are some of the major characteristics of the direct cinema style? At what stage of
production does the filmmaker organize the material to convey a message to the
spectator?
4. Would you agree with the statement that “most documentaries do have a point of view,
and always have”? Why? How can we detect a point-of-view in documentaries that do
not make it explicit? Give examples from the films seen in class.
5. Think of some of Nichols’s modes of documentary representation, as cited and outlined
by Saunders. Does Saunders agree with Nichols’s taxonomy or is he critical about it? In
what way?
6. According to Pryluck, what is coercion in documentary filmmaking and what forms can it
take? What is the right to privacy? How can it be preserved in the context of the public’s
“right of knowledge”?

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Study Questions- Genres 1. How do Gillespie and Toynbee analyze classification and status of film genres? What are the genre “rules’ they discuss and what are genre boundaries? How do concepts like hybridity and intertextuality apply to the study of genres? 2. What is melodrama and how does it relate to film and other media? Can you think of a film you have seen recently that follows the structure of the melodrama? Why does Williams argue that melodrama is the quintessential American form? What are the components of the melodramatic structure? 3. What are generic conventions and how do they differ from icons? What are themes and motifs? What are archetypes? 4. Can we distinguish between science fiction and horror? Could we say that the horror genre focuses on the body while the emphasis of science fiction is on the mind? What themes are embraced by both genres? 5. Consider the genre films seen in class and think about their subject matter, thematic concerns, characterizations, formulas, visual settings, etc. How do formulas work to construct genre plots? What are generic conventions and how do they differ from icons? How do the films we have seen in class reveal the ideological premises and the ethical values of the communities that produced them? 6. In Pam Cook's brief introduction to authorship in cinema how does she historically and ideologically position the debate over art and creativity? How does she summarize Bordwell's position on ambiguity in art cinema? (For the full article by Bordwell on art cinema please see the reader). 7. How can we define “style” in film? Can you identify some stylistic traits in the films seen in class? Have you seen any other films by Bong, Varda, Kubrick, or Welles? Do you have a favorite director? Why? 8. If the auteur theory values a director's personal expression how can auteurs exist in the Hollywood system, a system that depends on formulas? How should personal vision (authorship) and cultural roots (generic formulas) be taken into consideration? Terms: Explicit – Implicit- Referential- Symptomatic meaning Genre/ Theme/Motif/Archetype Antinomy Icons/genre iconography Genre conventions/genre expectations Myth Cultural Context 1. Consider any of the documentaries seen in class. How does the film convey meaning? Briefly point to some of the most important elements of the film’s narration, paying particular attention to devices such as voice-over narration, formal parallels, opening/closing patterns. 2. Watching the documentaries screened in class, did you feel that the filmmaker was taking a clear position on the issues relating to ecological disruption? What elements of the film conveyed the impression? How does the filmmaker frame the question? What formal aspects are involved? What structuring devices does the filmmaker use? 3. What are some of the major characteristics of the direct cinema style? At what stage of production does the filmmaker organize the material to convey a message to the spectator? 4. Would you agree with the statement that “most documentaries do have a point of view, and always have”? Why? How can we detect a point-of-view in documentaries that do not make it explicit? Give examples from the films seen in class. 5. Think of some of Nichols’s modes of documentary representation, as cited and outlined by Saunders. Does Saunders agree with Nichols’s taxonomy or is he critical about it? In what way? 6. According to Pryluck, what is coercion in documentary filmmaking and what forms can it take? What is the right to privacy? How can it be preserved in the context of the public’s “right of knowledge”? Name: Description: ...
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