History of Film

illustration of film projector

For students dreaming of watching movies all quarter, a history of film class will be available to go even deeper into the topic.

History of Film is a hybrid class taught by Ron Austin that will meet every Monday for two and a half hours in fall quarter. It covers the development and context of film from the 1890s to the 1950s through viewing and discussion of various genres. Instructor Ron Austin explained “We study the history of narrative, we study the history of editing. The class encompasses several different things, history, technology and the social aspect.”

Austin enjoys the modules on silent films, but says some students find it difficult to engage in these older films. To make it more accessible and more fun, he pairs older films with more modern examples of concepts to compare and contrast and to show how certain elements have developed and changed. For example, another one of Austin’s favorite sections to teach is the horror movie module. To teach suspense he uses a German horror film from 1931 called “M” and compares it to more modern scary movies like “The Shining.”

History of Film_edited

Students will get to watch many full movies in his class, as well as clips and some they will view at home. Papers and discussion posts will enrich their grasp of concepts covered in class. One textbook will be a standard history of film, while the other is a graphic novel called “Filmish.”

Austin draws inspiration for the class from a variety of courses he took at Evergreen as well as partnerships with other instructors and other courses he has taught himself. He also teaches the History of Animation at BC and co-taught History of Film and Music with Dr. Brian Cobb.

Those interested in learning from the experience of an actual film director can ask Austin about documentary films he enjoys creating, especially one titled “Bezango, WA” that was recently accepted to the San Diego Comic Con Independent Film Festival.

Even for those students who have no aspirations of becoming involved in their own films someday, everyone enjoys movies on some level. This class will allow students to see more and when they watch movies in their everyday life and to understand more fully what tools the creators used to create the experience of the movie itself.

Austin explained that if students get anything out of his class, he hopes they will get “an understanding of the fact that films are made for entertainment, but they also affect you in so many ways. They can influence us to understand and can manipulate.” He also includes analysis of videogames in this discussion of influence and creation of culture. Both genres can have both positive and negative effects, the manipulation doesn’t mean it’s “something negative, it can be for good too, but they do change us.”