Th 1051 - Introduction to Film
Voss-Kovach Hall 221
TTh 2:00-3:50
Fall 2014
Professor Tom Isbell
T.A.s: Joanna Hale, Tanner Kramp,
Natalie Moriarity, Matthew Thompson
Office: 148 MPAC
Phone: 726-6313
Office Hours: Monday/Wednesday 11:00-12:00
or by appointment

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"This is a Category 9 Liberal Education class. Courses in this category should familiarize students with the basic aims, elements, and principles of interpretation and criticism of literature, folklore, myth, the visual arts, dance, film, music, and theatre. Emphasis should be on principles and techniques of analysis, interpretation, and criticism."

"Courses in this category focus on students’ abilities to think and act with creativity, demonstrating intellectual curiosity, imagination and flexibility, including methods of inquiry used in the aesthetic appreciation of static and kinetic fine art."

COURSE OBJECTIVE: To acquire and develop an understanding of and a greater appreciation for the art and history of film. To position contemporary American and international cinema in its broader historical and cultural contexts. To enhance analysis skills to better understand film and filmmakers' intentions.


  1. View, discuss and analyze films.
  2. Learn the basic history of cinema, as well as corresponding genres.
  3. Analyze film technique.
  4. Think critically about the act of filmmaking.






Course Evaluation


Point Value

6 Lecture quizzes 10 points each
In-class Assignments 5 points each
Midterm Exam 75-100 points
Final Exam 75-100 points

At the end of the semester, the lowest quiz will be discarded, and the remaining points will be totaled and graded on the following scale:

Grading Scale

Letter Grade


A 91-100
A- 88-90
B+ 85-87
B 81-84
B- 78-80
C+ 75-77
C 72-74
C- 69-71
D+ 66-68
D 62-65

Course Outline



Tues. Sept. 2 Syllabus. Lecture: The Business of Film; Chapter 1 - Photography.
Thurs. Sept. 4 Lecture: Chapter 1 - Photography; Chapter 2 - Mise en Scene.
Tues. Sept. 9 Quiz #1 (The Business & Chapter 1 - Photography). Lecture: Chapter 2 - Mise en Scene.
Thurs. Sept. 11

Lecture: Early history of film. A Trip to the Moon. The Great Train Robbery.

Tues. Sept. 16 Quiz #2 (Chapter 2 - Mise en Scene). Lecture: Early history of film. The Birth of a Nation. The Rink. Battleship Potemkin.
Thurs. Sept. 18 Screening: It Happened One Night
Tues. Sept. 23 Lecture: Early history of film. Film analysis.
Thurs. Sept. 25 Screening: Stagecoach
Tues. Sept. 30 Quiz #3 (Early history of film). Lecture: Chapter 3 - Movement.
Thurs. Oct. 2 Screening: Citizen Kane
Tues. Oct. 7 Analyze Citizen Kane. Lecture: Chapter 3 - Movement; Chapter 4 - Editing.
Thurs. Oct. 9 Screening: Casablanca
Tues. Oct. 14 Lecture: Chapter 4 - Editing
Thurs. Oct. 16 Midterm Exam
Tues. Oct. 21 Review Midterm Exams. Lecture: Chapter 8 - Story
Thurs. Oct. 23 Screening: The Big Sleep
Tues. Oct. 28 Lecture: Chapter 8 - Story
Thurs. Oct. 30 Screening: Strangers on a Train
Tues. Nov. 4 Lecture: Chapter 8 - Story
Thurs. Nov. 6 Screening: The Graduate
Tues. Nov. 11 Quiz #4 (Chapter 8 - Story). Lecture: Chapter 5 - Sound.
Thurs. Nov. 13 Screening: Do the Right Thing
Tues. Nov. 18 Lecture: Chapter 5- Sound
Thurs. Nov. 20 Screening: Amelie
Tues. Nov. 25 Quiz #5 (Chapter 5 - Sound). Lecture: Chapter 6 - Acting.
Thurs. Nov. 27 No Class. Thanksgiving Holiday.
Tues. Dec. 2 Lecture: Chapter 6 - Acting; Chapter 7 - Drama.
Thurs. Dec. 4 Screening: Searching for Sugar Man
Tues. Dec. 9 Quiz #6 (Chapter 6 - Acting). Lecture: Chapter 7 - Drama; International Filmmakers
Thurs. Dec. 11 Screening: International Filmmakers
Final Exam: Wednesday, Dec. 17 8:00-9:55 a.m.


The Midterm and Final Exams will consist of multiple choice and True/False questions. Students will be responsible for all assigned readings, all class lectures, and knowledge of films viewed in class.


There will be regular class discussions to analyze current films. Students will be expected to see current movies, participate in these discussions, and voice their opinions, backing up their opinions with specific examples. As the semester progresses, students will be expected to speak specifically in terms of the film elements learned in class.

The Tuesday quizzes will cover the previous week's lecture, the previous week's assigned readings, and the previous week's film(s). The Midterm Exam will cover the class lectures, assigned readings, and films viewed in the first half of the class. The Final Exam is comprehensive and will include everything from the first half as well as the second. (Note: lecture material is all material covered in class, not just the PowerPoint slides.)

You will be responsible for all material viewed, discussed and assigned. If you miss a class, you will need to borrow those notes from another student, not the instructor. If you miss a film, you will need to procure and view it on your own. (Most of the films are available for checkout from the UMD Library.)

This is a floating syllabus. Films, dates, and lectures may change, based on schedules, conflicts, and the progress of the class. There may also be other assignments throughout the semester. Point total possibilities will be announced when the new assignment is given.

Because the lowest quiz will be dropped at the end of the semester, students will not be allowed to make up a Tuesday quiz if they miss it.

Students must remove caps when taking quizzes and exams.

Each student will need to bring a #2 pencil to class on quiz and exam days. Students will also need to have their Student ID memorized.

All cell phones must be turned off at the beginning of each class period. Students are not allowed to take pictures during class. Texting is strictly prohibited during film screenings.

All scores will be posted on eGradebook. Students are required to check their scores within one week of the score being posted. Failure to do so forfeits your right to challenge that particular score.

Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated in class. Such behavior, including excessive talking during lectures or films, could lead to expulsion from the course.

Academic dishonesty tarnishes UMD's reputation and discredits the accomplishments of students. UMD is committed to providing students every possible opportunity to grow in mind and spirit. This pledge can only be redeemed in an environment of trust, honesty, and fairness. As a result, academic dishonesty is regarded as a serious offense by all members of the academic community. In keeping with this ideal, this course will adhere to UMD's Student Academic Integrity Policy, which can be found at This policy sanctions students engaging in academic dishonesty with penalties up to and including expulsion from the university for repeat offenders.

The instructor will enforce and students are expected to follow the University's Student Conduct Code ( Appropriate classroom conduct promotes an environment of academic achievement and integrity. Disruptive classroom behavior that substantially or repeatedly interrupts either the instructor's ability to teach, or student learning, is prohibited. Disruptive behavior includes inappropriate use of technology in the classroom. Examples include ringing cell phones, text-messaging, watching videos, playing computer games, doing email, or surfing the Internet on your computer instead of note-taking or other instructor-sanctioned activities.

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student’s ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the UMD Health Service Counseling website at

It is the policy and practice of the University of Minnesota Duluth to create inclusive learning environments for all students, including students with disabilities. If there are aspects of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or your ability to meet course requirements – such as time limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos – please notify the instructor as soon as possible. You are also encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Resources to discuss and arrange reasonable accommodations. Please call 218-726-6130 or visit the DR website at for more information.

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