February 21, 2017. Abolition & The Road to Civil War
You do not have readings for our lecture on abolition popular culture Tuesday, but you do need to watch one of the two films below. We will discuss them and your weekly assignment at the beginning of class.
- John Frankenheimer, The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
- Don Siegel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
February 23, 2017. No Class. This is an archive / research day to work on your final project.
- Matthew Algeo, Pedestrianism. (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2014). We will discuss this next week, but get a start on this book.
- Continue to work in your history reflection journal. Spring Break is coming up and you are required to finish half of your entries by the time we go on break.
- If you are doing your own final research project, your full draft will be due March 31st. Keep that goal in mind and use your dedicated archive day wisely.
- If you are working collaboratively with me, remember that I give you a grade each week for your contribution and progress. Our first database goal focused on California shows should be finished on Tuesday at the start of class.
Option 1: Imagine you were asked to contribute to a list article for Buzzfeed, Rolling Stone, or the Los Angeles Times Film Section and you need to argue why either Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Manchurian Candidate should or should not be on their top 10 list of Cold War movies for Americans to watch. Submit a polished 250-400 word film analysis. 250-400 words is incredibly short (you are essentially writing a blurb). This is an exercise in developing your voice and argument in tight and analytical writing. You must succinctly summarize the movie’s plot, its historical context in the Cold War, and use a concisely crafted argumentative statement. Use cinematic techniques to bolster your claim. Your film blurbshould be fun to read and it should engage the reader (keep in mind an educated general audience as you write).
Option 2: Imagine you were asked to contribute to a list article for Buzzfeed, Rolling Stone, or the Los Angeles Times Film Section on the most important movie scenes during the Cold War. Using either Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Manchurian Candidate closely analyze a scene or 2-3 minute sequence from the film, explaining its significance to the larger plot. Your film scene blurbshould be fun to read and it should engage the reader (keep in mind an educated general audience as you write).
Thinking critically about historical films and movies:
- Most importantly, think about context: When was the movie created? Who directed it and what else have they directed? Who wrote it? Do you have a sense of audience reception at the time? What genre of film is this?
- Narration: Does the film have voice-over narration? Is the film linear? Are there flashbacks? Think about how the story is constructed and what effect this has on the story.
- Character names: Do character names reveal anything about the characters or the plot? For example, Esperanza was the protagonist of Salt of the Earth; “Esperanza” means “hope” in Spanish.
- Cinematic techniques: Did the director use any reoccurring techniques in the film? Lighting?
- Costuming, makeup, and set design: What does the clothing and make up tell you about each character and their relationships with each other? What does the set look like and what does it tell you about the story? Why is the setting important in this movie?
- Camera angles, speed, and composition: How is the position of the camera angle emphasizing or deemphasizing elements of the plot? How is speed and zoom used? What about framing? Does the camera pan or stay still? How does this impact your emotional reaction to the film?
- Use of color: Is the film in black and white? Are there any color palettes used throughout the film? For example, does the movie have a warm, rosy glow or a darker, bluish hue? How does this set the mood for the film?
- Music and sound: Does the soundtrack develop plot lines? What non-spoken sounds are important to the film? Is silence used as a cinematic tool and, if so, how?
- Correlatives: Does the director use metaphors to add another layer to the story or develop it in another way? Are there any objects in the film that somehow symbolizes a character’s development? A famous example of this is Holly Golightly’s refusal to name her stray cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
- Dialogue and acting: How do characters communicate with each other? Did any quotes stick out to you? Why are they important?