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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Film Experience

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via MIT OpenCourseWare


This course concentrates on close analysis and criticism of a wide range of films, from the early silent period, classic Hollywood genres including musicals, thrillers and westerns, and European and Japanese art cinema. It explores the work of Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, Capra, Hawks, Hitchcock, Altman, Renoir, DeSica, and Kurosawa. Through comparative reading of films from different eras and countries, students develop the skills to turn their in-depth analyses into interpretations and explore theoretical issues related to spectatorship.


1. Introduction to MIT 21L.011 The Film Experience (2007).
2. Keaton (2007).
3. Chaplin, Part I (2007).
4. Chaplin, Part II (2007).
5. Film as Global & Cultural Form; Montage, Mise en Scène.
6. German Film, Murnau.
7. The Studio Era.
8. The Work of Movies; Capra & Hawks.
9. Alfred Hitchcock.
10. Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window.
11. The Musical.
12. The Musical (continued).
13. The Western.
14. The Western (continued).
15. American Film in the 1970s, Part I (2007).
16. American Film in the 1970s, Part II (2007).
17. Jean Renoir and Poetic Realism.
18. Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937).
19. Italian Neorealism, Part I (2007).
20. Italian Neorealism, Part II (2007).
21. Truffaut, the Nouvelle Vague, The 400 Blows.
22. Kurosawa and Rashomon.
23. Summary Perspectives - Film as Art and Artifact.
Meet the Educator.
Why Study Film?.
Approach to Lecturing.
The Film Experience: A Course in Transition.
The Video Lecture Conundrum.
Beyond Film: Television & Literature.
Thematic Spines of the Course.

Taught by

Prof. David Thorburn


4.4 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

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  • Sito Fossy Biosa
    BEST! It is an honor to receive important information from the world's best campus. A complete institution, able to combine technology, art, to business. This is the future of the civilization of our educational institutions in the future. An institution that is not against one or two things, in fact enriches literacy across disciplines and loves all sciences. Keep it complex.
  • "The Film Experience" course offered by MIT via OpenCourseWare is an exceptional resource for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of film. Professor David Thorburn's insightful lectures provide a comprehensive examination of the history, techniques, and theories behind film while challenging students to think critically about films. Through the course's broad range of resources, students gain a deep appreciation for the power of film as a storytelling medium and its influence on culture and society. Whether you are an aspiring filmmaker, film critic, or simply a movie enthusiast, this course offers a fascinating and educational experience that will enrich your understanding of this art form.
  • Elvirahmawany Putri
    Great. I learn much from this course. I really enjoy every step of the explanation. I think this course such a great class. You must take this. It can help you to get a new knowledge that you don't know before.
  • Anonymous
    This course was very detailed and informative. The professor did a great job covering all the content materials in a very limited amount of time. I feel like I can walk away from completing this course with a good understanding of how movies reflect society.
  • Kipchircir Koech
    Eye opening. Giving meaning to movies not literally but as a metaphor. Watching this is helpful and I would love to see more of this.

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