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The Language of Film

Remote Classroom:The Language of Film—SOLD OUT

Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Senior Director of Education, BMFI

Have you wanted to take a course at BMFI, but your schedule wouldn't allow it? Was it hard to commit to four consecutive weekly sessions because of other engagements? Well, now's your chance! Join us for an at-home version of our flagship film studies course, The Language of Film. Each two-hour, thoroughly interactive Zoom session will include clips, discussion, and lecture (and a break), and each student will receive electronic readings and access to videos of each session. Unlike our Film Studies Online discussion series, no additional rentals or purchases are necessary for this course. BMFI provides all of the tools for this remote classroom, bringing a streamlined version of our flagship course to your home at a special price. "Diegesis", "mise-en-scene", and "chiaroscuro" are not trendy Center City nightspots, but rather some of the key terms of film analysis. This course introduces students to cinematic grammar, giving them the vocabulary and frames of reference to view and discuss motion pictures in an insightful and critical manner. Screenings consist of clips from a wide assortment of films illustrating different aspects of the medium's language, including cinematography, editing, and sound, and the ways in which filmmakers use them to communicate with the audience. From an early age, we learn to observe movies with awe and delight. Now, as we carry that wonder with us into adulthood, we can also approach cinema as more active and sophisticated viewers. Join us to learn to engage with the medium on its own terms and to discover some of the techniques by which we make meaning of the movies we see. Understanding the language of film allows you to get more enjoyment out of your cinematic experience—and to impress your friends at the post-movie discussion! Students will receive email confirmation of their registration immediately, and another email with instructions for getting the readings and joining the course via Zoom about 24 hours before the first session.

The Language of Film (2005-Present)

Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Senior Director, Education and Administration, BMFI

This course introduces students to cinematic grammar, giving them the vocabulary and frames of reference to view and discuss motion pictures in an insightful and critical manner. Clips from an assortment of films will illustrate different aspects of the medium’s language, including cinematography, sound, editing, and narrative. In addition, we’ll showcase some of cinema’s most memorable images, accompanied by commentary from the cinematographers who made them. From an early age, we learn to observe movies with awe and delight. Now, as we carry that wonder with us into adulthood, we can also approach cinema as more active and sophisticated viewers. Join us to learn to engage with the medium on its own terms and to discover some of the techniques by which we make meaning of the movies we see. Understanding the language of film allows you to get more enjoyment out of your cinematic experience—and to impress your friends at the post-movie discussion!

The Language of Film at PMA (Fall 2013)

Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

Diegesis, mise-en-scene, and chiaroscuro are not trendy Center City nightspots but rather some of the key terms of film analysis. This course introduces students to cinematic grammar, giving them the vocabulary and frames of reference to view and discuss motion pictures in an insightful and critical manner.

Screenings largely consist of clips from a wide assortment of films illustrating different aspects of the medium’s language, including cinematography, sound, editing, and narrative. In addition, some of the most memorable images in cinema history are showcased and enriched with commentary by the cinematographers who made them.

From a very early age, we are all able to follow—and be delighted by—movies, but far too often, we continue to approach cinema like the same passive viewers we were as children. Join us to learn to engage with the medium on its own terms and to discover some of the techniques by which we make meaning of the movies we see. Understanding the language of film allows you to get more enjoyment out of your cinematic experience—and to impress your friends at the post-movie discussion!


Please note: This class meets at the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2525 Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia).

Please note: This course is typically offered at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the spring, usually during the day on Wednesdays in April, but please check the current film studies offerings for specific, scheduled dates.

The Language of Film at PMA (Spring 2015)

Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

Diegesis, mise-en-scene, and chiaroscuro are not trendy Center City nightspots but rather some of the key terms of film analysis. This course introduces students to cinematic grammar, giving them the vocabulary and frames of reference to view and discuss motion pictures in an insightful and critical manner.

Screenings largely consist of clips from a wide assortment of films illustrating different aspects of the medium's language, including cinematography, sound, editing, and narrative. In addition, some of the most memorable images in cinema history are showcased and enriched with commentary by the cinematographers who made them.

From a very early age, we are all able to follow--and be delighted by--movies, but far too often, we continue to approach cinema like the same passive viewers we were as children. Join us to learn to engage with the medium on its own terms and to discover some of the techniques by which we make meaning of the movies we see. Understanding the language of film allows you to get more enjoyment out of your cinematic experience--and to impress your friends at the post-movie discussion!

Please note: This class meets at the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2525 Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia), and students must register for the course through the PMA, by calling (215) 235-7469.

BMFI members: Please call (610) 527-4008 x106 for instructions on receiving your tuition discount.

The Language of Film II (2006-Present)

Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

Please note: The Language of Film is a pre-requisite for this class. In addition, unlike other BMFI classes, this one has 'homework.' Now that you know what diegesis, mise-en-scene, and chiaroscuro are, what's next? You've learned the vocabulary of the language of film, so now get conversant! This course builds on the cinematic grammar taught in the first one to delve more deeply into the medium's formal elements and teaches students how to craft their own insightful aesthetic analyses of films. Screenings largely consist of clips from a wide assortment of movies rich with provocative uses of different aspects of cinematic language. More specifically, the course considers the ways in which specific formal components combine to create style and convey meaning, explores auteur theory, and concludes with the class doing its own, original analysis of a feature film. By learning how to make meaning of filmmakers' specific aesthetic choices, you will gain an even greater appreciation for popcorn movies, classic films, and art house fare alike.