Each week, you should watch two films outside of class and then discuss them online in the Film Diary Dicussions. For two of these films you will be asked to write a formal 2-3 page (double-spaced, 12-point font) critique of the film. You will be allowed to select the films yourself, but within certain guidelines which will be explained in class. The films you select should be films you haven’t seen before, except as noted by the instructor. In ARTH 334, film titles should always be italicized. I am trusting you not to submit this project unless you have in fact watched the entire film. At the conclusion of the paper you should write a reaction to the movie you’ve viewed. Anything you write which summarizes or quotes from the movie will earn no credit. The assignment is to react to the films, not to summarize them. Here are some ideas of what you could write about: Did you like the movie? If so, why? If not, why not? What did you think about such elements as the acting, script, cinematography, editing, or directing? How can you relate this film to concepts and vocabulary we’ve discussed in class. What questions does your viewing of the film leave you with — either questions about the film itself or questions about film and film-making in general? Remember, don’t tell me what the movie is about — you should assume that I’ve already seen it. Tell me what you think about the movie. Don’t hesitate to use the word “I.” You’re not required to like the films you see — although you’re certainly welcome to! (Sometimes, though, it’s easier to write about why you didn’t like something than to write about why you did.
These Film Critiques may consider, comment on, and interconnect the aesthetic and technical aspects of the films, such as:
editing, montage, filmic structure
cinematography, camerawork, lighting
production design, sets, costumes, special effects, style
music and sound
Equally (if not more) important will be to consider and write about the following:
what (and how) do movies mean?
theme, content, genre, intention, audience
social dimension and function: what the film says and means about the world, and particularly today's multi-cultures (in all their broad meanings and permutations)
personal dimension: how the film affects you personally (identification, engagement, pleasure, excitement, alienation, boredom, etc. — how and why?
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
As one of the most well-known and popular Agatha Christie novels, Murder on the Orient Express has been adapted in various ways. The cinematic adaptation in 1974 with Sean Connery was chosen as the film to be critiqued and having read the original novel the plot was largely familiar, which served to provide an increased ability to review the film in a critical sense due to the conversance with the characters and their overall situation.
As a confessed fan of the works of Agatha Christie, it is important to note that I found the movie to be an enjoyable version of what I would consider to be a classic novel. Fundamentally this is one of the most important roles that a movie should fulfil, in its ability to entertain an audience which I would strongly argue is fulfilled in this instance. In spite of the movie showcasing a veritable who’s who of acting talent who are tasked with providing various cultural and racial stereotypes to represent