Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 1 lectures (2010)

This post was ported from the defunct blog Hearing the Movies II. These are Jim's description of class lectures and activities for the beginning of spring semester 2010. Later entries can be found under the "pedagogy" tag.

I used the following examples for my first week of lectures, which were keyed to Ch. 1 of Hearing the Movies:

I started with the scene from Catch Me If You Can (2002), discussed in the introduction to Part 1 (pp. 1-3) and again in Ch. 1 (pp. 7-8). I played the scene twice, with class discussion after each viewing. We then did a masking exercise, using the Second Botched Meeting sequence from Sleepless in Seattle, discussed on pp. 20-25. We first watched the sequence with no sound, and I had the students talk about what sort of sound they expected and why. We then watched the sequence with sound.

The second class—my class meets twice a week, 75 minutes for each class—we started with a masking exercise using the same scene from Sleepless, this time reversing the procedure, beginning by masking the image and then watching the sequence with image and sound. I led the class in discussion after each.

We then worked with part of the Waterloo Station sequence from The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), starting again with a masking exercise: first, no image (we did this twice); then, no sound track; then both together. In this case I divided the students into three groups and had the first group concentrate on the dialogue, the second group on the music, and the third on the effects. I instructed the first group to note the number and type of voices as well as tempo and dynamic of delivery; the second group to note the basic mood, tempo, dynamic and instrumentation for major points of change; and the third group to identify sound source or to describe sound as best as they could. I thought this example worked exceptionally well, and I would recommend the example.

The third example came from The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), discussed on pp. 11-12. Here, I had the students discuss the five types of music in the sequence and how they differed in narrative function: 1. the atmospheric music as Frodo awakens (this music also appears at the very beginning of the film over the New Line Cinema logo); 2. the "mythic" music accompanying Gandalf's flashback; 3. pastoral music accompanying the appearance of Sam; 4. enchanted vocal music for Rivendell; 5. pastoral music accompanying appearance of Bilbo.

The final example was simply a viewing of Boston Common Scene from Good Will Hunting (1997), pp. 25-30.