Silence Your Cell Phones, It’s Time for Film Studies


Among the classics watched in Film Studies is Gold Rush. Charlie Chaplin plays an optimistic prospector who tries to find his fortune during the gold rush. Along the way he meets, among others, a saloon girl who he falls in loves with and tries to get her love in return.

It is fourth period and it’s time to watch another movie.

It’s not a substitute teacher who doesn’t have a good lesson plan, but rather a class called Film Studies. The students roll in chairs from one room to the next where a screen shows the menu for the movie Moulin Rouge. As the movie begins, they pass around popcorn and turn their attention to the screen

“In Film Studies we trace the history of cinema from the earliest inventions up to the modern day film school grads like Lucas, Spielberg, Scorsese and others,”  said Brian Devaney, who teaches the class.

In the class, students watch and discuss movies from 10 different genres of films, ranging from the birth of cinema and silent movies, such as A Trip to the Moon and Modern Times, to the modern day blockbuster such as E.T and Back to the Future.

Each genre is tied to themes that relate to cinema and film. While learning about comedies, the students will also learn about censorship’s effect on movies. While watching classic war movies the class discusses propaganda in films. For a grade, students have a test after every section and write an essay on a movie of their choice that relates to the theme.

Devaney says that it is important to learn about film.

“I think that film is this generation’s literature. I think that this is how your generation communicates visually.” Devaney says film, “is literature, it’s art. It’s actually more so than any other a collaborative art, there’s music, there’s photography, there’s acting, there’s dance, there’s set building. It has every kind of art you can think about – it is all incorporated in. I think it is the most complete art.”

The class has a lasting effect on it’s students. “I get more emails from old students of this class then from my video production classes because they write back and go, ‘I can’t look at movies the same way’ or ‘I just watched this movie and I was thinking about our class…I think this is one where it keeps revisiting you through your life.”