Appreciating Films

Appreciating Films

The course seeks to introduce the student to the major elements that constitute cinema. Also, the attempt will be to equip the student to academically discuss cinema in terms of critiques and close analyses.


On completion of the course, the student should be able to discern the following:

  • The broad contours of the history and aesthetics of films.
  • The overarching film genres and the basic terminology of film studies.
  • The distinction between mere appreciation of films and sustained ideological film analysis.
  • The questions raised by Cultural Studies and Feminism(s) in their encounter with films.
  • The issues raised by cinematic adaptations of literature.


Module 1 (18 hours)

Broad Film Genres

  • Lumiere vs. Melies [Arrival of a Train vs. An Impossible Voyage]
  • Narrative Cinema vs. Documentary Cinema
  • Hollywood Style as Norm - Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996)
  • German Expressionism - F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922)
  • Neo-realism - Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Module 2 (18 hours)

Film Languages

  • Montage Theory: [Clippings from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and Chaplin’s Modern Times]
  • Mise-en-scene: [The opening sequence from Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) and the infamous ‘horse head’ scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972)]
  • Deep Focus, the Long Take and psychological representation: [Select scenes from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)]
  • Jump Cut (anti-seamless-dissolve) [Examples from Godard’s Breathless (1960)]

Module 3 (18 hours)

Reading Films

  • Cinema and Ideology/Identity Politics
  • [Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram (2000) and Shaji Kailas’s]
  • Aaraam Thampuran (1997)
  • Cinema and Feminism
  • [Rajkumar Hirani’s PK (2014) and K. G. George’s Aadaminte Variyellu (1983))

Module 4 (18 hours)

Film Adaptations

  • Shakespeare/Hamlet: Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider (2014)
  • Basheer/Mathilukal: Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Mathilukal (1990)

Films Recommended for Background Viewing

  • George Melies: An Impossible Voyage
  • Lumiere brothers: Arrival of a Train
  • Sergei Eisenstein: Battleship Potemkin
  • Charlie Chaplin: Modern Times
  • Werner Herzog: Aguirre, Wrath of God
  • Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather
  • Orson Welles: The Magnificent Ambersons
  • Jean Luc-Godard: Breathless
  • V. K. Prakash: Karmayogi [Malayalam]
  • Core Text: Appreciating Films

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