Literature and Film

A Course in Film Literacy and Appreciation

*taken from original proposal documents for Tuba City High School

One semester elective course for English credit

Course description:

This course will enable the student to become more visually literate by critically examining film. Not only will the student examine character, plot development, theme, setting, point of view and other familiar storytelling devices in film, but he/she will view film and read scripts with a knowledge of various visual techniques such as: visual relationships, juxtaposition, and symbolism. The student will become familiar with film technology, understand commercial considerations that go into making film, and become familiar with the world's great filmmakers. Students will develop criteria for evaluating film and critique a variety of films orally and in writing.


  1. To help students increase their perceptive skills and to perceive the language of film.
  2. To investigate the nature of film as a distinctive art form and to relate and compare it to the other arts.
  3. To help students gain insight, understanding, and aesthetic enjoyment of their own experiences and the experiences of others through film.
  4. To help students recognize their own psychological and emotional responses to film.
  5. To introduce students to critically acclaimed films and to the work of the great directors.
  6. To help students develop criteria for aesthetic awareness, so they may evaluate film.
  7. To help students learn how to verbalize the experience of seeing and hearing visual communication. This will be done orally as well as in writing.


While our students enjoy watching movies and will continue to do so throughout their lifetime, most of our students are visually illiterate. Most have no clear-cut criteria of what makes a worthwile film, and will continue to pay money for cheaply made films that do nothing to enhance their lives. A quick check to see what types of movies are most popular at the local theater and at the video rentals clearly demonstrates that a course in film appreciation would be worthwhile.
A pilot project for film appreciation was started a few years ago in American Studies as an occasional enrichment activity for the evening. Over a third of the class attended these optional sessions, ans students were very attentive towards the film classics shown like Citizen Kane, Bonnie and Clyde, and Casablanca. Although the students were very interested in the film study, they lacked sufficient background to appreciate much of what they saw; thus, much teaching of film literacy had to occur during the film. While pausing and re-playing parts of the films is very worthwhile to illustrate techniques and devices, more time is needed for students to gain visual competency.
Additionally, many English skills will be developed since reading the text, film reviews, and scripts, discussing films, critiquing films, and learning storytelling techniques and structure will all be required in the course. Study in this area will increase English skills and help students appreciate good films to improve the quality of their lives.


Depending on school board policy, other more modern films like Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans, and Shindler's List that have PG-13 or R ratings could be included. See Parental Permission Form.

For cyberspace resources go to my Film Page.

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