Results of the Movie Assignment

March 23, 2005

Here are the results of the Movie Assignment I gave before Spring Break.

no movie: 15 - shame!
Casablanca: 12
Wizard of Oz: 9
Citizen Kane: 3 (watched together, and all fell asleep)
Modern Times: 2
Gone With the Wind: 2
It's a Wonderful Life: 2
Meet Me in St. Louis
Pride and Prejudice
Gunfight at the OK Corral
The Blue Angel (me)

The striking thing for me is that the two sections attacked the assignment very differently - I must have presented it differently without intending to. The first section watched old movies and then talked about the content of the movies. The second section was less likely to watch the movie and could only talk about the form of the movie - long cuts, less technical camera work, different acting styles.

I had talked up Casablanca when giving the assignment, so I am not surprised to see that a lot of people watched it. I was a little surprised to see just how popular Wizard of Oz was.

We spent a half an hour talking about what you see when you watch an older movie, and how you can use movies to explore both the self-conscious issues of the moment and the unconscious background assumptions - look at the language of cigarette smoking in Casablanca, for example, a sort of sign language that we have largely lost.

I ended up having to defer German Unification until Thursday, but if I did some cultural literacy then those half hours will have been well spent. Especially if the cultural literacy leads to future cultural literacy - if hearing the discussion of the movies their classmates watched, or having liked something they saw in the old movie, the kids go out and watch more of them. We will see - that is the sort of pedagogy that can take a couple of years before you know if the idea rally sunk in.

Posted by Red Ted at March 23, 2005 09:17 PM | TrackBack

"Citizen Kane: 3 (watched together, and all fell asleep)"

Do you suppose this was because the movie was 'boring' ... or dis it have more to do with college students being exhausted in general?

Posted by: KJ at March 25, 2005 04:08 PM

I'm sure it was because the movie didn't have enough explosions.

By the time today's children graduate from college, their leaders will be a generation that makes Bush 2.0 look like an Ivy League valedictorian.

Posted by: Venture at March 26, 2005 02:29 PM

I think it had to do more with the fact that the kids were watching it while tired, and the movie does drag a little - especially because its big story has since the 1960s become a cliche: you can not substitute things for love.

Posted by: Ted K at March 29, 2005 08:17 AM
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