The Current Logo

Reading Film: The Story of Movies

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
September 23, 2011

As a high school English teacher, I occasionally used films in the classroom. My thinking was always to approach a film as though it were a text. I would guide students through the analysis of a film using the tools they had developed through analysis of print literature. Wasn’t film just a story told in a different way? I realize now that my approach to analyzing film in the English classroom was too narrow. My understanding of the genre was incomplete. Because film is multi-media, it requires an additional set of tools and utilizes a different vocabulary than text-only literature. Teaching new media literacy using the tools of traditional media literacy is not sufficient.

The students featured in this Edutopia clip are learning how to analyze film by utilizing film-specific vocabulary and new tools of analysis. They learn to “read” a film by discussing camera angles, lighting, music, and composition. They consider how the director uses these elements to establish mood, character development, and story elements. Not surprisingly, once armed with these tools, students are excited and interested in becoming movie creators, themselves. 

Do you teach your students to “read” film in this way? What are some of the approaches you have taken to film literacy?

Related posts