Literary and Cinematic Terms:

1. Plot
2. Mood
3. Character
4. Texture
5. Motifs
6. Theme
7. Universality

Terms Activity

1. Pick a partner that you trust. Each pair will be responsible for two terms.
2. I will assign you a literary/cinematic term from the above list.
3. Make a new page and title it the term that was assigned to your pairing.
4. On the new page include the following: picture, definition, three cinematic examples, and three literary examples.
5. Rubric: Ideas Rubric for Thematic.pages

Five Elements of Theme

Focus on Plot- the filmmaker focuses on what happens
Focus on Mood- the director creates a highly specialized mood or emotional effect
Focus on Character- the film focuses on a single, unique character
Focus on Style- the story is told in a way that is unique (look, feel, rhythm, atmosphere, tone, or organization)
Focus on Ideas- some aspect of life, experience, or the human condition

Approaches to Ideas

1. Moral Implications- intended to convince us to apply a moral principle in our lives
2. The Truth of Human Nature- characters representative of humanity in general
3. Social Problems- defining the problem and emphasizing its importance (can be light, comical, savage, or brutal)
4. Struggle for Human Dignity- conflict or tension between two opposing sides of human nature
5. Complexity of Human Relationships- problems, frustrations, pleasures, and joys of relationships
6. Coming of Age/Loss of Innocence- young people go through experiences that force them to mature or gain new insight
7. Moral or Philosophical Riddle- attempts to pose moral or philosophical questions rather than provide answers

Ideas Activity

1. Stay with your partner. Each pair will be responsible for two ideas.
2. I will assign you one of the approaches to ideas from above and one of the elements of theme.
3. Make a new page and title it with the name of the assigned idea.
4. On the new page include the following: picture, definition, three cinematic examples, and three literary examples.

Thematic Viewing Questions

Answer the following questions. Bring in a hard copy the next class after we finish the film.

Thematic Viewing Guide.pages

Film Review Directions

Please use the following two handouts to construct a film review for both of the full-length films shown in class. You will be given time to write the film review in the class after we finish each film. The film review will then be due the next class.

How to Write a Movie Review.pages
Structure of a Film Review.pages
Sample Movie Reviews.pdf

Field of Dreams

Background Information:

Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams

Ray Kinsella is an Iowa farmer with a wife, a little girl, and a seemingly idyllic life. However, he never resolved his conflicts with his baseball loving father, who had died many years before. As the movie opens, Ray begins to hear voices and becomes obsessed with an urge to build a baseball stadium in his best corn field.

When the stadium is built, it is visited by the ghosts of frustrated ball players. These include the men banished from professional baseball in the 1919 Black Sox cheating scandal and, most importantly, Ray's father. Through the events of the film, Ray works through his regrets and can, at last, grieve for his father.

"Field of Dreams." Teach with Movies. 2004. 14 August 2009.

Crash Clip

Background Information

external image myspirit_movie_crash_poster.jpg
(UMCom) -- Scientists use a machine called a particle collider to smash atomic particles at a high speed to break them into smaller, more elementary parts, thus allowing study of even simpler, more basic parts of physical matter. Crash is like a "people collider"—thrusting diverse individuals together unexpectedly, shockingly and often violently—giving us a look at the elemental, more basic aspects of humanity. What we see is the torturous, contradictory way racism still haunts our society. Sometimes it's on the surface, sometimes lurking in the shadows, but it's still there.

Ria (Jennifer Esposito, left) and Det. Graham Waters (Don Cheadle, middle) in Crash. © 2005 Lions Gate Filmsexternal image myspirit_movie_crash_image1.jpg
Paul Haggis, getting his first chance to direct after writing Million Dollar Baby, serves his screenplay well, navigating confidently through an economic and ethnic slice of Los Angeles. Working with a riveting ensemble cast, including Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and rapper-turned-actor Chris ''Ludacris'' Bridges, Haggis builds his tale around a simple device—a multi-car pileup on the outskirts of L.A. Though no one is hurt, its cause--a a dead body along the road—is the first piece of a jigsaw puzzle the film cleverly completes by telling the story of the previous 24 hours. It's not a murder mystery, but a study of how each character is connected and how race issues ultimately led to death on a lonely road.
As the story unfolds, we meet the people thrust into each other's lives. Among them: a white, politically correct district attorney and his hyper wife; a black homicide detective trying to live down his street roots (and junkie mother); a Persian convenience owner who just bought a handgun to keep in his register; and a young Latino locksmith who just moved his family to a "better" neighborhood after a stray bullet shattered his young daughter's bedroom. The film escalates in tension combined with a strange, sad resignation as these and other characters become entangled. With each encounter, racial antagonism surfaces and we see glimpses into the real possibility of violence from any character. We realize the dead body at the movie's beginning could be any of them, and so could the killer.
external image myspirit_movie_crash_image2.jpg
Christine Thayer (Thandie Newton) and Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) in Crash. © 2005 Lions Gate Films
The film presents an uncompromising and likely a realistic examination of how race enters into almost everything we think, say or do. The friction here is not limited to the expected black/white issues but shares the wealth among all racial groups. It explores how racial suspicions and expectations can sometimes force us, almost against our will, to play stereotypical roles, even when logic and our own sense of morality urge another direction. Racism attempts to strip people of their dignity, dehumanizes anyone who is "different," and always cuts both ways—diminishing both offender and victim.
The highlight of the film comes when a white racist patrolman risks his life to pull a woman from a burning car—a black woman he had humiliated during a shockingly biased traffic stop earlier in the day. Wrenching emotions pass between them as tormentor becomes savior, mingling anger, fear, shame and a form of reconciliation that is more like a truce than forgiveness. The scene is a hopeful one though, hinting at a change in both hearts.
external image myspirit_movie_crash_image3.jpg
Gun store owner (Jack McGee), Security Guard (Jayden Lund), Farhad (Shaun Toub) and Dorri (Bahar Soomekh) in Crash. © 2005 Lions Gate Films
Gnawing at us at film's end is how that scene and others show the great contradictions of human nature—how vile tendencies and self-sacrificing heroism can be found in the same person. The film is at its best when revealing such contradictions—not when attacking prejudice head on. There are the two young black men who complain of racial stereotyping, and then reinforce it by car-jacking a white couple's SUV. There's the district attorney whose political correctness becomes a subliminal form of racism itself.
"Unlike other cities, in L.A., nobody touches you," says the detective, played by Cheadle. "We miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just to feel something." When the puzzle comes together, we see just how much these characters did touch each other and how we are connected. Crash reveals human beings as the amazing, complex and conflicted creations we are—divine and profane, noble and flawed, beautiful but capable of sorrowful ugliness. As the film ends, on an unusually cold night in L.A., the camera slowly pulls back and up to give us a "God's eye view." Snow begins to fall. I couldn't help but think of one of the shortest verses in the Bible: "Jesus wept."

Tubbs, Greg. "Crash." The United Methodist Church. 2005. 13 August 2009.

Casablanca Introduction