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basic terms

Using a movie in class requires quite a bit of preparation. At least if you want to get the most out of it. One of my favourite points of reference in film studies is James Monaco's How to read a film, now available in its third edition. It is particularly helpful when it comes to basics and general descriptive terms. Also notable for its large number of schemes and illustrations.

Note that there is also an edition with additional material on DVD-ROM.

getting started

Once you have chosen a movie for use in class, you may wish to get some background information about it. If you are lucky there is a specific webpage about your movie offering detailed insight into almost any aspect you want to know about. This also includes downloadable picture files, which are ideal for worksheets or classroom presentations. A fine example is Aardman Animation's website for their productions of Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit.

But chances are that the title you are looking for does not have its own webpresence. So you might need to try something else: IMDB, The Internet Movie Database. Fast and versatile, it usually helps you find more than you need.

Why use DVDs in class?

Three reasons:

1) versatility (easy scene access)

2) additional material (comments by actors or directors, "the making of", screenplay)

3) quality (excellent sound and image)

Unfortunately, quantitiy and quality of DVDs differ enormously, so you should always check covers or descriptions for the relevant information. Some DVDs offer hardly more than the original language version of the film and a scene by scene access (e.g. Brassed Off, Raining Stones, My Beautiful Laundrette or Twelfth Night). But there are others that offer a huge package of useful extras: Taxi Driver (cast interviews, original script), Notting Hill (production notes, comments by director, producer and script-writer, deleted scenes), Bridget Jones's Diary ("Behind the Scenes" report, director's audio comment).

Note that some movies are sold as more expensive "Collector's Editions". They tend to offer more additions than the same titles in plain packaging.

Where to get them?


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Stand: 21. August 2002