Prof: Paul Watkins
Location: Nanaimo (200.203)
Class Hours:  Monday 6 pm –  9:30 pm
Office Hours: Wednesday 10 am – 12 pm
Phone: Ext. 2118
Office: 345. 204

“I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians.”
–Francis Ford Coppola

FILM 101 provides an introduction to the study of film as an art form and a medium of cultural communication. Film is a language of ideas and it is images and ideas that excite us when we watch a film in the dark. Students will gain a basic understanding of the technical aspects of film, including cinematography, editing, acting, mise-en-scène, and sound. We will also discuss the cultural impact and politics of film. The course will draw material and concepts from Richard Barsam and Dave Monahan’s Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Filmand lectures will include academic context for the various films we will watch from Citizen Kane (1941) to Black Panther (2018). While the focus is largely on newer American cinema, important films from around the world—including a class on Indigenous filmmaking in Canada—will inform our discussions.

Trigger Warning: Some of the content and discussion in this course will necessarily engage with filmic representations of violence and other mature themes and our final film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, deals with trauma in relation to the Indian Act and residential schools.

Note: Given the need to screen films in their entirety, many of our classes will go until 9:30 pm to leave enough time for discussion.

Required Text:

  • Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Filmby Richard Barsam and Dave Monahan

Optional Text:

  • Writing About Movies by Karen Gocsik, Richard Barsam, and Dave Monahan

Free Introductory Film Texts:


  • VIU Learn: Film Reflections x  4 (400-500 words each) 40%
  • Quiz 5%
  • Essay Outline with Annotated Bibliography and Workshop 5%
  • Research Essay (1500 words) 25%
  • Final Exam 25%

See paper copy of syllabus for detailed breakdowns of assignments. 

Please note that this schedule is subject to change as the term progresses.

Introduction to the Course
Selected clips: Carl Theodor Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928); Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker (1962); Julie Dash, Daughters of the Dust (1991) with Beyoncé, Lemonade (2017); Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989); Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream (2001); Joel and Ethan Cohen, No Country for Old Men (2007); Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity (2013); Stephen Spielberg, Jaws (1975) and Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Screening: Chris Marker, La Jetée (1962 | 28 min)

Reading: “Chapter 1: Looking at Movies”
Clip: Gary Ross, The Hunger Games (2012)
Screening: Jason Reitman, Juno (2007 | 96 min)
Discussion of Reflection Papers

Last day to add or drop without financial penalty

Reading: “Chapter 2: Principles of Film Form”
Selected clips: Georges Méliès, A Trip to the Moon (1902); Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush (1925); Vittorio De Sica, The Bicycle Thieves (1948); Yasujirō Ozu, Tokyo Story (1953);
Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Screening: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014 | 100 min)
[Reflection option on Juno due]

Reading: “Chapter 3: Types of Movies”
Selected clips: Robert J. Flaherty, Nanook of the North (1922); Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972); Dario Argento, Suspiria (1977); Abbas Kiarostami, Close-up (1990); Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, The Lego Movie (2014)
Screening: Ana Lily Amirpour, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014 | 101 min)
See Abdi and Calafell, “Queer utopias and a (Feminist) Iranian vampire” (VIU Learn)[Reflection option on Grand Budapest due]

Thanksgiving. No class

Quiz (Chapters 1—4)
Reading: “Chapter 4: Elements of Narrative
Clips: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982); Christopher Nolan, Memento (2000); Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (2010)
Screening: David Lynch, Mulholland Drive (2001 | 146 min)
[Reflection option on A Girl Walks Home due]

Video Essay 1: “How Lynch Manipulates You
Video Essay 2: “Mulholland Drive Explained

Reading: “Chapter 5: Mise-en-Scéne
Selected clips: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954); Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006); Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Tutorial Video: The Lumière Brothers, “Actualities”
Screening: Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (2018 | 134 min)
Research Essay Questions Review (and How to write a thesis)
[Reflection option on Mulholland Drive due]


Reading: “Chapter 6: Cinematography”
Clips: Richard Brooks, In Cold Blood (1967); Stanley Kubrick, The Shining (1980) [and clips from student film]; Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (2016)
Screening: Wong Kar-Wai, In the Mood for Love (2000 | 98 min)
[Reflection option on Black Panther due]

Last day to drop without academic penalty

Reading: “Chapter 7: Acting”
Clips: Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980);
Jane Campion, The Piano (1993)
Screening: Paul Thomas Anderson, There will be Blood (2007 | 158 min)
[Reflection option on In the Mood for Love due]

Remembrance Day. No class/ Reading Week

Reading: “Chapter 8: Editing”
Clips (6-7:45): Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho (1960); match cut in Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (1960); Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976); Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, City of God (2002); George Miller, MadMax: Fury Road (2015)
Tutorial Video: Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Essay Workshop 8-9 pm (attach to final paper)
[Reflection option on There Will be Blood due]

Reading: “Chapter 9: Sound” and “Chapter 10: Film History”
Clips: Alice Guy Blaché, Making an American Citizen (1912); Dziga Vertov, The Man with a Movie Camera (1929); Satyajit Ray, Panther Panchali (1955); Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Screening: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941 | 119 min)
[Reflection option on editing from a film of choice due]

Special Focus: Indigenous Cinema in Canada
See VIU Learn for readings on Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Clip: Zacharias Kunuk, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)
Screening: Jeff Barnaby, Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013 | 88 min)
Final Paper Due
Exam Preparation (Chapters 1-10 with essay)

Articles for Reading:


FINAL EXAM: Dec 11 @ 1 in 180.134