Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Citizen Kane

As we view Citizen Kane, there are a series of important elements that can enrich our understanding of this film.

Orson Welles as Auteur:
Welles directed, wrote (partial), and starred in this film (even though it was thought he wasn't old enough to portray Kane). While Welles had direct control over the film and its look, there were other people who contributed artistically. Some of the invention and creativity of film making includes:

Camera Work:
The Deep Focus shot!
Low angle shots revealing ceilings!
Moving shots used as wipes!
Overlapping dialogue! (not original to Welles, but a trend in Screwball Comedies)
Long uninterrupted shots!
Expressionist lighting and photography!

Narrative/Special techniques:
Multiple perspective!

motifs and themes:
The American Dream: For all of Kane's "success", he is not happy. He dies lonely, with only his "possessions" around him. Is all our striving to succeed in America an illusion?

The differing perspectives on Kane's life, especially in the absence of Kane's own point of view, force us to question what was truly important in Kane's life (and by extension what constitutes a life in general.) Judging by Kane's last muttered word: Rosebud, the most important pieces of his life were not the things that made him newsworthy, such as his newspaper successes and political ambitions, nor his friendships and associations. As Thompson interviews different people about Kane, we are given different perspectives on the man (some are unreliable). Odd, though, that we do not see Kane from Kane's POV.

Old Age

The Snowglobe

WRITING ACTIVITY: Please write a 2-3 page, double-spaced essay on any one of the following:

1. Examine the aesthetics of Citizen Kane. How is, for example, mise-en-scene and the mise-en-shot used, how is the camera used, dialogue, etc. to create a formalistic or realistic film? Can a film be both realistic and formalistic? How does editing and montage work in the film to symbolize or bring focus to important elements in the film? Remember to examine motifs and recurring objects and what their significance is for the film.

2. Examine the film's narration and narrative structure. Examine Welles' artistic choice to tell the story this way. How does the film benefit (or suffer) from this choice? Also, examine how Kane's "fictional" story reveals the psychological state of the film's auteur. How is this also a film about Welles? Who's story is this? Explain.

Due: Friday, May 7 (this assignment will be for the 6th marking period.)

Note: The handout given to you on Citizen Kane will be helpful to you as will the script. Please read and refer to these articles.

Here is some information about who is responsible for this film. You may find it useful for your journal paper.

Director: Orson Welles
Writers: Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles (screenplay)
Cinematography by Gregg Toland

Orson Welles ... Charles Foster Kane
Joseph Cotten ... Jedediah Leland
Dorothy Comingore ... Susan Alexander Kane
Agnes Moorehead ... Mary Kane
Ruth Warrick ... Emily Monroe Norton Kane
Ray Collins ... James W. Gettys
Erskine Sanford ... Herbert Carter
Everett Sloane ... Mr. Bernstein
William Alland ... Jerry Thompson
Paul Stewart ... Raymond
George Coulouris ... Walter Parks Thatcher
Fortunio Bonanova ... Signor Matiste
Gus Schilling ... The Headwaiter
Philip Van Zandt ... Mr. Rawlston
Georgia Backus ... Bertha Anderson
Harry Shannon ... Kane's Father

Produced by Orson Welles and George Schaefer .... executive producer
Original Music by Bernard Herrmann
Film Editing by Robert Wise
Casting by Rufus Le Maire & Robert Palmer
Art Direction by Van Nest Polglase
Set Decoration by Darrell Silvera
Costume Design by Edward Stevenson
Makeup by Maurice Seiderman

You may wish to check the TRIVIA section on for Citizen Kane. There are quite a few interesting tidbits of trivia for trivia fans.

Reminder: Please submit your documentary projects (with a title in the film) to the workshop folder. You must CONVERT and save your film to a MP4 format.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Special Guest Filmmaker/Director

We have an opportunity to meet former SOTA student and guest filmmaker
Rob Walsh (SOTA 2005) who will screen his film Whisperwalk. Rob graduated from York University in Toronto 2009 and was the cinematographer for the film, it recently screened in the Rochester International Film Festival at the Dryden Theatre; the director Elli Weisbaum will accompany him.

So today, please attend the guest artist visit. When we return to the lab, please prepare and finalize your documentary films. These projects are due.

For Thursday, please have read Citizen Kane for homework.

Just a reminder that the Penfield Poetry Contest deadline is this week, and please support the creative writing department by attending the Playwrights' Festival Readings and Choose Your Own Improv play event, April 28 @ 7:00 in the Ensemble Theatre. Tickets are free for you enrolled in the class, but $4 for parents/other students/dates, etc. Tickets are available at the door.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Documentary Project/Unit Test Review

Today please continue to work on your documentary projects. These projects are due (completed) April 27. A unit test on 1940's film will be held on Friday, April 16.

See below (and the links) for information. You should be familiar with all the topics posted.

Playwrights' Festival
The following writers will have their work produced for the playwrights' festival (April 28 at 7:00 in the Black Box theatre):

Kadisha: Tut's End
Molly: To Wait or Not to Wait
Meredith: One Way Ticket
Jahmal: Idea

Please plan on supporting your classmates by coming to the performance.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

1940's Film Clips

As you continue to edit and work on your documentary projects, please watch the following clips and take notes about content, directors/actors and genre of film. There will be a test Friday dealing with a variety of film items from the 1940's and Job Occupations.

Film Noir
Casablanca (1942)
Gaslight (1944) starring Angela Lansbery, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten
Double Indemnity (1944) Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray, Edward G. Robinson
Mildred Pierce (1945) starring Joan Crawford
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) Lana Turner
The Big Sleep (1946) Humphrey Bogart
The Third Man (1949) Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten

Alfred Hitchcock:
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Rebecca (1940) Laurence Olivier
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Joseph Cotten
Life Boat (1944) Talula Bankhead
Notorious (1946) Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman

Walt Disney:
Fantasia (1940)
Pinocchio (1940)
Dumbo (1941)

The Thief of Bagdad (1940) with Sabu and Conrad Veidt
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) Orson Welles
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) Gary Cooper & Ingrid Bergman
The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) Burgess Meredith

Abbot & Costello:
Buck Privates (1941)
Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Elizabeth Taylor (child star) and animal star films:
Lassie Come Home (1943)
National Velvet (1944)

Frank Capra:
Arsenic & Old Lace (1944) Cary Grant
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) James Stewart
Miracle on 34th street (1947) Natalie Wood & Maureen O'Hara

Cat People (1942)
I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1942) Boris Karloff & Lon Chaney Jr.
House of Dracula (1945)
House of Frankenstein (1944) Boris Karloff & Lon Chaney Jr.
The Mummy's Tomb (1942) Lon Chaney Jr.
The Uninvited (1944) Ray Miland

Please begin reading Citizen Kane. You will be tested on this script as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Maltese Falcon/Documentary Project

The Maltese Falcon paper (see below) is due today (Thursday, April 8). Please make sure you either print this or send it to the DROPBOX with your name and the heading "Maltese Falcon" on the file.

Please complete the paper, then work on your documentaries.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Maltese Falcon Critical Paper & Documentary Projects

Please work on the Maltese Falcon critical paper (see below for instructions) (due April 8) and the documentary project (due April 27, although most of your film should be completed and "in the can" by next week.)

Today, please turn in your Citizen Kane packet question/observation card.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Playwrights' Festival Project

The Playwrights' Festival Readings will occur on Wednesday, April 28 at 7:00 in the Black Box Theatre. Auditions will be held Thursday, April 8 after school.

Interested students should submit a play that the author would like to see as a staged reading (any length, including 10 minute or shorter and/or full or one act plays).

Please drop the script into the DROPBOX no later than Wednesday, April 7, with your name and PLAYWRIGHT'S FESTIVAL indicated in the file name. Plays should be proofread, properly formatted, and include a title page and short cast list to be considered.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maltese Falcon - Critical Paper

After viewing the Maltese Falcon, please write a 2-3 page critical review paper. The paper will be due April 8.

A critical review goes a little further than a film review or critique that a journalist might write for a newspaper or magazine. Being more scholarly, this is the kind of paper that you might write taking a college course in film. Its focus is not only to answer who, what, when, but also HOW and WHY. (who is in or involved in the film, what elements make up the film; what is my reaction to the film, when was it made or premiered, but HOW is the film relevant to society, to human culture, WHY should we watch it, HOW did it affect films after it, HOW are film elements used skillfully (or not) in the film, and WHY should we view the film?

Your critical review paper should include the following (follow these steps to ensure you have all the components you will need to effectively evaluate and analyze the film):

1. An introduction that discusses the history and significance of film noir. Ask yourself, "what is film noir and why is it an important genre?" ending with the thesis of examining the elements of The Maltese Falcon. It should be clear that you know the background and something about the genre you are writing about.

2. You should briefly summarize the plot and identify the characters (and often their actors playing the parts). In essence, you should summarize the movie's plot, setting, characters) before you begin to examine it.

3. Your body of your paper should examine the technical and historical elements of the film before you throw in your opinion. It should be clear that you know the details about the film (including actors, directors, producers, and other film jobs and who was responsible, how the film did historically at the box office, etc.)

4. Your body of your paper should judge and evaluate the skill of these people in doing their jobs and give reasons or support your opinions. (Again, you can examine actors, the director, the writer, the producer, the costumer, etc. Usually you stick to major parts and positions over say, the key grip's job.)

5. Your body should connect major themes or the impact of the film to ones own life or to the HUMAN CONDITION. Are these themes best served in the genre, and by the film?

6. Finally, you should summarize by answering why is this film relevant? Why should someone watch this film? How did this film affect the industry after it was made? Did it influence other contemporary directors, or create new styles of artistic expression? Etc.

Proofread your work before you turn it in.

I'd suggest after watching the film today, you may wish to quickly jot down or summarize the film, and get your reaction to the film on paper so you don't forget what you think over the short holiday. Don't worry too much about the research element of the film. You can work on this Tuesday in the lab.

After squaring away the details of your paper, continue to work on your documentary.

HOMEWORK: Please read the article on Orson Welles and Citizen Kane. To hand in, please put two comments or observations or questions from your reading on a small index card or slip of paper to hand in.

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

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