Friday, March 27, 2020

Montage & Sergei Eisenstein

Montage & Sergei Eisenstein
The most influential filmmaker of early Russian film was Sergei Eisenstein.

Eisenstein is remembered in film for his contribution of the montage. Unlike continuity editing (editing a film to create a clear and concise sequence of events in the narrative (linear)), montage used the juxtaposition of images to create an emotional impact on the viewer.

The montage changed the way filmmakers approached film narrative. It allows a filmmaker to tell a story through a sequence of shots that manipulate time. The jumble of images and cuts of a montage affect the psychological impact and effect of the film's content. See the crash course #8 for more details on how this works. There are 5 types of montage:

  • Metric
  • Rhythmic 
  • Tonal
  • Over-tonal
  • Intellectual/Ideological

  • We will discuss these in further detail next class.

    The montage technique is still used in editing today. In a script, it is indicated by a series of descriptive lines, each spaced apart to indicate a series of shots, rather than a description that would indicate one shot or scene. Click here for an example and click at this link for an explanation of how this works.

    Here's a few clips from some of Eisenstein's films:
    • Oktober; and (Oktober: the full film 1928)
    • Alexander Nevsky (1928) (battle on the ice sequence) - Music by Sergei Prokofiev. We can see how the invention of sound in the next few years will revolutionize film. The exciting tone of the music nicely reflects the glory, fear, and trepidation of the characters in this scene.
    Eisenstein was not the only early Russian filmmaker genius. Enter: Dziga Vertov: Man With a Movie Camera (1929, trailer)

    Man With a Movie Camera (1929, full film by Dziga Vertov--another very influential Russian filmmaker. You may watch this film for extra credit if you'd like.)

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020

    F. W. Murnau (German Expressionism continues...)

    This week, continue your film history viewing with the films of F.W. Murnau. F.W. Murnau is best known for his masterpiece films Nosferatu (1922) and Sunrise (1927). He made 21 feature films, many of which he stole the rights to by making slight changes to the books or stories he adapted. He was influenced by Ibsen and Shakespeare, but also the German philosophers Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

    Murnau emigrated to Hollywood in 1926, joining Fox Studio. There he made Sunrise (1927), as well as 4 Devils (1928), and City Girl (1930). None of these are "horror films", although Sunrise is considered now to be one of the greatest films of all time.

    Murnau worked on the film Tabu (1931) with documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North) but died in an automobile accident in California just 1 week prior to the film's opening premiere. The friends/people who attended his funeral included Flaherty, Greta Garbo, and Fritz Lang. Today, of the 21 films Murnau made, 8 are lost. He will be remembered, however, for his 3 biggest and influential films of the silent film decade of the 1920s. These films are linked below. Choose 1 to watch and complete a film analysis for that film.

    Last note: Murnau's grave was broken into in 2015--perhaps Count Orlock had finally exacted his revenge!

    F.W. Murnau: director spotlight
    The Horror Films of F.W. Murnau

    F.W. Murnau's films: (choose one of the following to view and complete a film analysis form--forms can be found on our Google Classroom site!)

    Friday, March 20, 2020

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) Film Response

    Respond to your viewing of film in a well-developed response.

    In your response, be sure to comment on the following:

    • the special camera effects or tricks, 
    • the set design, 
    • the use of expressionism as an art/set design (see chapter and information about the film from the videos), 
    • the acting style, 
    • the editing, 
    • the narrative (story), 
    • and/or the direction of the film. 
    What did you notice about this film, in particular, that might be different from films that came before it? Does it remind you of films you have seen since the film came out in 1919? How does expressionism still exist in films today? How might this film have established the "horror" genre of film? Etc.

    See previous posts and our Google Classroom for links and resources. You may deliver your written response on our Google Classroom page. The project is due by the end of the marking period.

    Also: just so you know, student films are now posted on our Google classroom. Good work, folks!

    Thursday, March 19, 2020

    German Expressionism; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari & Robert Weine

    As we continue our curriculum, please access both this blog and your Google Classroom for important information and assignments while our district is closed.

    Watch the following Crash Course video on German Expressionism. Take notes. Please watch this video before you view The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.


    “Why should an artist duplicate the real world when it already exists for everyone to see?”
    • Expressionism begins in Europe around 1906 in painting and theatre
    • Style is unrealistic, stylized
    • Attention is often given to angles
    • Depicts distorted perspectives
    • Narrow, tall streets and buildings, odd angles (set pieces)
    • Lighting is “dramatic”; Use of shadows
    • Actors are grotesque, exaggerated make-up
    • Dark, nightmarish tones & moods suggest horror
    • Attempt to show the interior lives of characters through exteriors
    • Expressionism influences Futurism (and Modernism)
    • Expressionism influences Film Noir in the 1930’s (more on that later...)
    Robert Weine's bio
    • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Robert Weine (director) 1919; You can find a full version of the restored film in our GOOGLE CLASSROOM.
    Other films by Robert Weine include:
    Along with Robert Weine, other German filmmakers were making their mark during this time. This includes F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang (but more on him later...)

    Contemporary films that use expressionism in part or whole:
    HOMEWORK: See our Google Classroom for assignments during MP3.

    Sunday, March 15, 2020

    A Message from our Superintendent

    I will be contacting you through this blog site and our Google Classroom for updates or important new information regarding our course. In the meantime, please stay safe and calm. See the following message from our Superintendent...

    "After consultation with Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Mendoza, and the Monroe County Superintendents, it was decided that all Monroe County Public Schools, including the Rochester City School District, will be closed to students beginning Monday, March 16 until further notice. This closing includes all school-related activities including sports and other extracurricular activities.

    [If you need any assistance or have questions/concerns or additional help, please call the Main Office at SOTA and we'll try to help!]

    While this situation remains fluid, RCSD will begin implementing supports for families, including meals for students, beginning Monday, March 16. Please check the District’s Updates and Resources About COVID-19  ( webpage for information about these resources, as well as other updates.

    We will continue to monitor this situation in partnership with the Monroe County Health Department and school leaders on a week-to-week basis and will provide an update by midday Friday. As a reminder...monitor your email regularly for updated communications. Please continue to check the District’s Updates and Resources About COVID-19  ( webpage for updates as well.

    Our goal is to provide as many supports and resources to you, our students, and the entire community. In times like these, it is essential for us to prioritize health and safety while doing everything we can to support our students and families throughout this ever-changing situation. Please take care of each other. We will get through this working together as one Rochester family.

    Terry Dade
    Superintendent of Schools

    Thursday, March 12, 2020

    Song of the South

    FILM SCREENING: Song of the South (1946)
    Image result for song of the south
    We will screen the 1946 Disney Film: Song of the South, starring James Baskett (Uncle Remus) & Hattie McDaniel (Aunt Tempy). This film integrated live film footage with animation. Films such as Anchor's Away (Gene Kelly, 1945) and Fantasia (1940) incorporated animation with live film action. The style is repeated in such films as Mary Poppins (1964), Bedknobs & Broomsticks (1971), and even Mary Poppins Returns (2019).

    James Baskett became the first African-American male actor to receive an Academy Award. Seven years earlier, Hattie McDaniel, who also appears in Song of the South, became the first African-American to win an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress, Gone with the Wind (1939)). It wouldn't be until 1964 when another African-American male performer would win an Academy Award for Best Actor. See the article handout as part of your reading homework.

    As you watch the film, please take notes on whether or not you think this film should be censored (not shown in public or released by Disney) due to its inherent racism and portrayal of negative stereotypes. Please use the article on the film and your handout on "Blackface" to make an argument for or against the censoring of this film.

    Next class we will write our short article/reviews about the film & this question, as well as work on completing our documentary projects.

    HOMEWORK: Please read the article on German Expressionism & Sergei Eisenstein for TUESDAY, March 17. Aim to complete your film documentaries by Thursday, March 19.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2020

    Minorities in Film: Day 2

    Please use the first 30 minutes in class today to work on your documentary projects. You might need to go next door to the lab, or you may use your Chromebooks to record your video/audio footage (see previous post instructions!) or one of our 2 cameras.

    If you need a converter, Tali found this one working online...Online Converter!

    At 8:00 we will continue discussing Minorities in Film.

    The first female director is:
    Alice Guy Blache
    The Cabbage Fairy (1896)
    The Life of Christ (1906) (our first religious epic depicted in film, predating Cecil B. DeMille)
    The Consequences of Feminism (1906)
    Falling Leaves (1912)
    Algie The Miner (1912)

    Lois Weber, an American female, was also a silent film actress and then director. She invented the first use of the split-screen technique in her film Suspense (1913).
    Other films include the Blot (1921) and Hypocrites (the first full-frontal nudity depicted in a film outside of "art film" like Edweard Muybridge's work.) She, too, is important.

    As for gay and lesbian films of the early silent film era, there are a few. Apart from two men dancing in the film by Edison, the first depiction of one of the sissy stereotype characters is Algie the Miner (1912, sound track added). The first butch male-to-male kissing scene is the fall of Babylon sequence in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916). It also features a pretty kick-ass heroine: mountain girl.

    A little gender-bending: Vitagraph's A Florida Enchantment (1914); Here's Sidney Drew's full film: A Florida Enchantment (full film, 1914). This is considered the first lesbian film in the U.S., although that's not really a central part of the film.

    German film was one of the first to tackle gay subjects head-on. Here's the film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others, 1919) by Richard Oswald. Here's a little about the significance of the film. It stars Conrad Veidt (more on him soon). Here's a version of the original 1919 film. You may watch this in its entirety for extra credit.

    The lesbian film Madchen in Uniform was made in 1931 (and is a talky, so we won't but mention it here). If you're interested in this film, you may also like the 1933 film Anna und Elisabeth. (This is only a clip, the sound is not original, of course.)

    Recently, Barry Jenkins' film Moonlight (2016) won best picture and best-adapted screenplay in the Academy Awards.

    Latino silent film information can be found here. There is little online to watch (sorry about that). Bronco Billy and the Greaser (1914), directed by Gilbert Anderson (Bronco Billy). By far one of the most famous Latin actors was Antonio Moreno,  a Spanish-born actor/director, who often played the now stereotypical "Latin lover" role. Ramon Navarro (gay Mexican-American actor) was also popular during the 1920s was rumored to be Rudolph Valentino's secret lover. He ended up tragically murdered in 1968. Here's a link to a short amateur biography of the actor. He starred as Ben Hur in MGM's 1925 historical epic.

    And Asian film star Sessue Hayakawa starred in such films as The Typhoon (1914) and The Dragon Painter (1919). He signed on with Paramount Pictures (Famous Players Lasky) where he worked with Cecil B. DeMille in such movies as The Cheat (1915). The first Japanese feature film was made in 1912, the Life Story of Tasuke Shiobara. Here is the Japanese film Jiraiya the Hero (20 min) in 1921.

    Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1922) is one of the most important early documentary films ever filmed. It follows the life and times of the Inuit hunter Nanook and his family. It is considered the first feature-length ethnographic documentary. Flaherty shot over 50k feet of film to make the film--which he shot on location in the cold north of Hudson Bay, Canada over the period of 55 days, traveling with the Inuit over 600 miles. You may watch Nanook of the North for extra credit.

    The director Dadasaheb Phalke is considered the father of Indian film, although Asian film begins in the late 1890s. Here's his 1914 film Raja Harishchandra. It is also interesting to note that the first optical toy (a primitive zoetrope) was invented by Ting Huan in 180 AD in China.

    By the end of the silent film era, most countries have begun to make films. Of particular note are the directors we will look at next week: Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Wiene and F.W. Murnau (German Expression films). But first...let's move ahead in time to the 1940s, to a growing film company called Disney. More on them later...

    FILM SCREENING: Song of the South (1946)
    Image result for song of the south
    We will begin screening the 1946 Disney Film: Song of the South, starring James Baskett (Uncle Remus) & Hattie McDaniel (Aunt Tempy). This film integrated live film footage with animation. Films such as Anchor's Away (Gene Kelly, 1945) and Fantasia (1940) incorporated animation with live film action. The style is repeated in such films as Mary Poppins (1964), Bedknobs & Broomsticks (1971), and even Mary Poppins Returns (2019).

    James Baskett became the first African-American male actor to receive an Academy Award. Seven years earlier, Hattie McDaniel, who also appears in Song of the South, became the first African-American to win an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress, Gone with the Wind (1939)). It wouldn't be until 1964 when another African-American male performer would win an Academy Award for Best Actor. See the article handout as part of your reading homework.
    HOMEWORK: Please read the Guardian article about Song of the South (1946). Additionally, please read the article on German Expressionism & Sergei Eisenstein for TUESDAY, March 17. Aim to complete your film documentaries by Thursday, March 19.

    Also, plan to attend the playwrights' festival next week Thursday & Friday, 7:00 in the Black Box.

    Monday, March 9, 2020


    Please note that the Webcam and Microphone are not disabled on your Chromebooks.  What is disabled is the native (built in) application that runs that hardware.

    At this time, the district is recommending the use of the Screencastify Chrome app for video and microphone recording.  You will need to go to the RCSD Chrome Web Store in order to install and use the webcam and microphone.  In order to do this, please see the directions below:

    1. Go to the following link à RCSD Chrome Web Store
    2. From the RCSD Chrome Web Store, click on the app you are interested in installing (in this case, Screencastify)
    3. Click on the  button
    4. A popup will appear, click on “Add Extension”
    5. You should now see an icon in the top right side of their Chrome Browser for Screencastify. ß
    6. Follow the online steps to setting up Screencastify.  You will need to do this after clicking on the button à
    7. Follow the CHROME instructions to record video/audio on your Chromebooks...[See previous post for details!]
    8. If you need a video converter, you can get a CHROME converter from the same source...check out: Video Downloader & Video Downloader Professional.
    9. NOTE: You will have to add these extensions to your Chromebook for them to work!

    The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

    Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...