• Greenville Technical Charter High School

    Film Criticism

    Course Syllabus Fall 2020

    (Remote Edition)


    Ken Gillespie

    E-mail: kgillespie@staff.gtchs.org

    Course description: 

    Film Criticism will introduce students to the film industry and the history of cinema through the study of classic and contemporary films.  Emphasis will be placed on exposing the class to a wide variety of styles and genres as well as formulating and justifying criticisms of the works.  Written analyses and participation in class discussions will be requirements for the successful completion of the course.


    Required Materials:

    • Access to Google Classroom for assignments to be handed in;
    • Access to Zoom for class meetings and film viewings;
    • Flash drive for saving work (if needed).


    Classroom Routines:

    • Office Hours:
      • Mondays via email 11:00 am – 1:pm
      • Thursdays via email 11:00 am – 1:pm
      • Fridays live on Zoom 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm



    40%    Participation (film screening discussions, observation notes, paying attention during viewings, etc.)

    60%    Film Reviews




    • I will be using screen sharing on Zoom for viewing films during synchronous class meetings.
    • Written observations on films will be kept in a variety of methods throughout the year.
    • If you miss a synchronous class, you have five (5) school days (not class meetings) after your return to make up missed work. No make-up work will be accepted after this time.
    • You will receive an invitation to join Google Classroom. Check your email and join with your school email as soon as possible. Be sure to include a valid email for your parent/guardian.
    • Assignments are due at the assigned time; ten (10) points per day late will be deducted for major assignments.  Late homework will receive half credit if the assignment is turned in the next school day.


    GTCHS Remote Learning Routines


    • Provide your full name when joining a Zoom meeting.
    • Activate mute when you are not speaking.
    • Your video must remain on during synchronous instruction.
    • Restroom breaks are for emergencies only and should not happen often.
    • Absolutely no phones or other electronic devices are to be used during synchronous instruction.
    • Student attire should not distract others from learning.
    • Find a stable location for synchronous instruction (your background should not be distracting).
    • Sit up and pay attention.
    • Treat everyone with respect.


    Please contact me if there is any issue or concern with the film materials being presented in class. Please read and discuss this syllabus with your parents.


    I’m looking forward to a fun, exciting, and rewarding semester. Thanks!



    Tentative film schedule


    Film Schedule (subject to change):

    All films are either G, PG or PG-13


    1st Quarter:

    The Golden Age of Hollywood


    • Historical and cultural context
    • The studio system
    • The rise of movies as a pastime

    Films: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

              Casablanca (1942)


    Sports Genre & the Underdog


    • Triumph of the underdog
    • Sports as motivation for character growth
    • Story tropes and conventions/the sports film ‘formula’
    • Characters who seek redemption

    Films: Rocky (1978)

              Creed (2015)



    Horror Movies and Special Effects


    • Stop motion and CGI animation
    • Universal Studios classic monsters series

    Films: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

                Frankenstein (1931)

               The Ring (2002)



    Science Fiction Genre


    • Filmmakers’ use of sci-fi to make observations on humanity and society
    • The Red Scare: Aliens Among Us
    • Progression of sci-fi concepts (dystopian future, space travel)
    • Effect of CGI technology on sci-fi

    Films: Metropolis (1927), Avatar (2009)


    2nd Quarter:


    Comedy Genre


    • Physical (“slapstick”) comedy
    • How has ‘funny’ changed through the generations?
    • Importance of characters + situations to generate humor

    Films:          The General (1926)

    Napoleon Dynamite (2004)


    Westerns Genre


    • Who are the ‘good guys’?

    Films: High Noon (1952)

              The Magnificent Seven (2016)  


    Adventure Films – The Hero/Heroine in Film


    • Joseph Campbell’s function of the archetypal hero/heroine in myth
    • The archetypal hero/heroine in film
    • What is an anti-hero?

    Films: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

    Wonder Woman (2017)


    Animation Genre


    • History of Animation
    • Walt Disney, Pixar, Miyazaki
    • Hand-drawn animation & CGI

    Films:          Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

                 A Christmas Carol (1971)

    Toy Story (1995)

              Spirited Away (2001)