Film experience caters to unenlightened minds

English class imparts lessons in cinema


Cody Casares / The Advocate

Students in the English 163, Film as Literature, course watch “The Battle of Algiers” in LA-110 on Nov. 24. The course shows a variety of foreign films.

By Magali Mercado, Staff Writer

The Film as Literature class brings out students’ creativity and opens their minds to various film genres.

The class, recognized as English 163, Film as Literature, is taught from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. every Tuesday. Students can learn about the terminology of films and filmmaking, as well as see films that students may not aware exist.

English department Chairperson Jeffrey Michels, who teaches the class, said, “I like to use the course to broaden people’s horizons and to show them that their tastes are different than what they thought.”

The class shows a wide variety of films from old silent black and white films to foreign films. Students are not aware of their favoritism until something new is shown.

Dr. Michels said there are people who do not like films that aren’t in English yet he likes to show them and they end up being popular with the students.

“I try to expand people’s understanding of what’s out there — not just big blockbusters,” Michels said.

With the terminology taught in the class, students learn new ways to view the films. Communications major Sakeema Payne said the class lets her see and notice things in films she would not have noticed before in a film. “(The class) directs the audience’s attention in a area that the director wants the audience to think and look,” Payne said.

Students go over vocabulary in a lecture on a film and that film is shown afterward. Business major Victor Mendez said learning the vocabulary and watching a film afterward helps in understanding the work.

“He (Michels) brought up (Sigmund) Freud’s theory and then showed us a film that connected with the theory.” So far I’ve liked the movies he’s shown, Mendez said.

The class can definitely get the creative juices flowing in students, which can beneficial and important for students.

“We teach far too little art and film, things that inspire people to think creatively and to think outside themselves,” Michels said.

Courses like literature and film can alter students’ thoughts. Michels said that showing how other people live and look at the world is key for an educated person to know. The way one person looks at the world is not the only way or valid way to look at the world.

Michels said the class is important because “all of us are raised by film and television and our images of what it is to be successful, what it means to be sexy, what we should get out of life is molded by the images on the screen and the stories we see. So understanding how those stories work and how directors manipulate (is important). It’s important to learn how to think critically, especially about such a dominant genre that almost tells you not to think critically.”

The class can teach students to think outside the box but the class is also a time to  enjoy watching films.

“I think the class is very relaxing. It’s not the most rigorous class on campus,” Michels said.

“Watching movies is the best part (of the class). It makes the time pass. I took this class as a requirement, but I’d rather watch movies than take an art class,” Mendez said.

“Sometimes it’s good to have a course in your schedule that feels more like a break,” Michels said.

Payne said she highly recommends students interested in film to take the course because it has inspired her.