Course Description

Early in the twentieth century, the Italian film theorist Ricciotto Canudo referred to film as the “seventh art,” taking its place among others forms of art whose aesthetics—the artistic properties of a work—can be studied.

This course introduces students to film theory, criticism, and aesthetics. Screenings represent major movements in world cinema, considered in relation to their diverse cultural contexts. Students analyze differences between film styles, such as expressionism, montage, realism, and modernism. Topics include the notion of “truth” in cinema, the digital revolution, and globalization. Students are introduced to critical models that are used to discriminate between “good” films and “bad” films.

This course satisfies the CUNY Pathways World Cultures and Global Issues requirement.

Learning Objectives

  1. To provide the student with an overview of film history and theory;
  2. To develop the student’s understanding of the technological advances in film by helping them trace through time those films in which major cinematic techniques have been brought to their artistic fulfillment;
  3. To help the student understand the forms and functions of various types of films, and help them trace the development of each type;
  4. To acquaint the student with the works of major film directors;
  5. To help the student’s ability to analyze the relationship of a film and the socio-historical context in which it was produced;
  6. To encourage logical thinking, poetic interpretations, and personal reflection on film as an art and medium of expressions.

Student Learning Objectives on CUNY Pathways Creative Expression

  • Identify and apply the fundamental concepts and methods of a discipline or interdisciplinary field exploring world cultures or global issues, including, but not limited to, anthropology, communications, cultural studies, economics, ethnic studies, foreign languages (building upon previous language acquisition), geography, history, political science, sociology, and world literature.
  • Analyze culture, globalization, or global cultural diversity, and describe an event or process from more than one point of view.
  • Analyze the historical development of one or more non-U.S. societies.
  • Analyze the significance of one or more major movements that have shaped the world’s societies.
  • Analyze and discuss the role that race, ethnicity, class, gender, language, sexual orientation, belief, or other forms of social differentiation play in world cultures or societies.
  • Speak, read, and write a language other than English, and use that language to respond to cultures other than one’s own.

In-Person Course

This course will meet in-person each week.

All course material, including links to graded assignments, is available on the course website at

We will not be using Blackboard.


Juan Monroy

Office Hours

Office hours are held both in-person and remotely.

Sign up for an appointment at

  • In-Person: Wednesdays, 2:00–3:00 PM, C–740
  • Remote via Zoom: I will email you a Zoom Meeting link for you to join the meeting

Microsoft Teams

We will use Microsoft Teams to submit your assignments. We will not be using Blackboard.

To access our course on Microsoft Teams, follow these steps:

  1. Go to
  2. When you see the Microsoft Sign In page, enter your username: Note: This is not the same as your username.
  3. When you see the CUNY Web Applications Login page, enter your CUNY Login username and password and complete the two-factor authentication.
  4. Locate our Team: The Art of Film, Spring 2023.

If you’re having trouble, note the following:

  • Make sure you’re logged into your not your account. 
* You can add another account to switch to the correct account.
  • Microsoft Teams doesn’t work on Mac or iOS Safari. You can download the Microsoft Teams apps or use another browser, such as Chrome or Firefox.
  • Make sure you’re not signing in to domain. Those are for personal accounts. The correct URL is for your CUNY account.


This learning activities are divided into twelve modules.

For each module, there are:

  • work you complete on your own outside of class
    • assigned readings from the textbook, listed in the course schedule on the course website
    • written responses to the films we studied in class
    • written essays on the course material we’ve studied in class
  • work we complete together during our weekly class session
    • film screenings
    • lectures about film aesthetics, criticism, theory, and history
    • discussions and group work reinforcing what we’ve learned in the module


Attendance and Participation

Attendance is required.

We will be trekking to class each Wednesday morning to work together for this class. Let’s make it worth the effort and be present during the class session:

  • put away the smartphone
  • silence the notifications on your computer
  • pay attention and contribute your own thoughts and insights about what you read in the textbook, what you heard the professor share, and what you saw in a film.

In other words, participate in the classroom experience.

There are no excused or unexcused absences, but everyone is allowed to miss two (2) classes without penalty.


For each module, there are assigned readings from the following textbook:

  • Sikov, Ed. Film Studies: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Film and Culture : A Series of Columbia University Press. New York: Columbia University Press, 2020.

You can get the textbook from one of the following sources:


As this is a film class, we will be watching films each week.

Most films will be screened in class and available on CUNY OneDrive for further study. Use your account to access these films.

Some titles available on Kanopy for you to watch on your own and for further study. Contact the Library for information if you’re having trouble accessing Kanopy using your LaGuardia account.

Elements of Film Style Reading Quizzes

There are five quizzes available on Microsoft Teams on the elements of film style that we will cover in the first half of the course.

The quizzes are based on that module’s assigned readings and consist of a mix of objective (multiple-choice) questions and of subjective (short answer) questions.

  1. mise-en-scène
  2. cinematography
  3. editing
  4. sound
  5. narrative

Complete each quiz by the due date posted here and indicated on Microsoft Teams. *No quizzes will be accepted once they close on Microsoft Teams.

Four of five quizzes are required: I will drop your lowest score.

Sequence Analyses

Concurrent with our modules on the elements of film style, there are five written analyses for a film we’ve screened in class. Each analysis assignment is available on Microsoft Teams.

  1. Sunrise and mise-en-scène
  2. Citizen Kane and cinematography
  3. LA92 and editing
  4. The Thing and sound
  5. Amores Perros and narrative

Select a sequence from the films listed above where you:

  • describe the sequence
  • prepare a shot analysis chart of the first twelve shots in the sequence
  • write a one-paragraph analysis of the sequence

Read the complete guidelines for guidance on this assignment.

Complete each analysis by the due date posted here and indicated on Microsoft Teams. *No analyses will be accepted once they close on Microsoft Teams.

Four of five analyses are required: I will drop your lowest score.

Film Responses

As we progress throughout the semester, there are six film responses on Microsoft Teams that investigate a set of themes of the films listed below.

  1. The Bicycle Thieves
  2. Classical vs. Modernist Forms
  3. Ruben Östlund films
  4. Characters and Actors
  5. American Gangster films
  6. New York Tough

Complete each response by the due date posted here and indicated on Microsoft Teams. *No responses will be accepted once they close on Microsoft Teams.

Five of six responses are required: I will drop your lowest score.

Film Criticism and Cultural Analysis

As a capstone for the semester, you complete a take-home analysis assignment that engages what you learned about the art of film over the course of the semester.

This analysis assignment is due on Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, June 14, and counts as our final exam for the course. No late assignments will be accepted after the assignment closes on Microsoft Teams, on Friday, June 16.


Assignment Weight
Attendance and Participation 10%
Elements of Film Style Quizzes 20%
Sequence Analyses 25%
Film Responses 30%
Final Essay 15%

Course Schedule

Module 1: The Seventh Art, March 8

In this introduction to the course, we will begin to understand the visual, sonic, narrative, cognitive, and emotional properties of film. We will also survey the syllabus, overall structure of the course, the course materials, and the required assignments for the course.

  • Watch The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1948, 89 min.) in class
  • Complete Film Response 1 on The Bicycle Thieves, available on Microsoft Teams, by Tuesday, March 14, 11:59 PM

Module 2: Mise-en-scène, March 15

Literally meaning “to place into the scene” in French, elements of mise-en-scène allow us to understand how filmmakers construct the profilmic world that a film represents.

Module 3: Cinematography, March 22

Extending the principles of photography, cinematography captures, distorts, and emphasizes the visuals of the world that we see onscreen.

Module 4: Editing, March 29

Film is unique in its ability to break apart—and put back together—time and space. Sometimes we don’t notice that, but sometimes we do.

Module 5: Sound, April 19

Film happily existed without sound for the first thirty years of the twentieth century. Since then, sound has developed into one of an equal dimension to visual and temporal dimensions of a film.

Module 6: Narrative, April 26

Everyone loves a good story, but most films don’t directly tell us a story. They rely on a plot: it reveals—as well as occludes—what has happened in the story.

Module 7: Classical and Modernist Forms, May 3

After learning the five stylistic elements of film, we will see how they work together in two competing systems. The classical system, closely associated with commercial Hollywood filmmaking, attempts to draw you into the story. The modernist film, as a counter to the commercial system, seeks to push you into thought or action.

  • Watch Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, USA, 1944, 107 min.) in class
  • Watch Persona (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1966, 83 min.) in class
  • Watch Daisies (Vera Chytilová, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 76 min.) on your own
  • Complete Film Response 2 on Classical vs. Modernist Forms, available on Microsoft Teams, by Tuesday, May 9, 11:59 PM
  • Review the materials from today’s class:

Module 8: Authors, May 10

A first way to understand the art of film is through learning through how certain filmmakers make films that follow specific patterns, stories, or themes.

  • Read Film Studies textbook, Chapter 8, “Filmmakers” before class
  • Watch The Square (Ruben Östlund, Sweden-Germany-France-Denmark, 2017, 151 min.) in class
  • Watch Force Majeure: Turist (Ruben Östlund, 2014, 119 min.) on your own
  • Complete Reading Quiz 6 on Filmmakers, optional, available on Microsoft Teams, by Tuesday, May 16, 11:59 PM
  • Complete Film Response 3 on Ruben Östlund films, available on Microsoft Teams, by Tuesday, May 16, 11:59 PM
  • Review the materials from today’s class:

Module 9: Performances, May 17

A second way to understand the art of film is through studying different characters in a film and the varied ways that actors portray those characters in a specific film.

  • Read Film Studies textbook, Chapter 9, “Performance” before class
  • Watch Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1948, 80 min.) in class
  • Watch Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel, Mexico, 1950, 76 min.) in class
  • Complete Film Response 4 on Characters and Actors, available on Microsoft Teams, by Tuesday, May 23, 11:59 PM
  • Review the materials from today’s class:
    • Slides (PDF) presented in class
    • Films excerpted in class

Module 10: Genre, May 24

A third way to understanding the art of film is through studying the patterns that exist across different films. Some formulas exist only in a specific time and place, while others evolve to challenge our thinking about the world.

  • Read Film Studies textbook, Chapter 10, “Genre” before class
  • Watch Little Caesar (Mervyn Le Roy, USA, 1931, 79 min.) on your own
  • Watch A Most Violent Year (J.C. Chandor, USA, 2014, 125 min.) in class
  • Watch Triad Underworld (Ching-Po Wong, PRC, 2004, 82 min.) on your own
  • Complete Film Response 5 on American Gangster films, available on Microsoft Teams, by Tuesday, June 6, 11:59 PM. My apologies: I posted this assignment late.
  • Review the materials from today’s class:
    • Slides (PDF) presented in class
    • Films excerpted in class

Module 11: Ideology, May 31

A fourth way to understand the art of film is to investigate how it communicates with its audience, including how the two understand the state of their worlds, how it was upended, and how that order might be restored.

Module 12: Cultural Analysis, June 7

After learning four approaches to understanding the art of film, we will learn how to write an analysis of a film, focusing on either sociocultural elements represented in the film or the generic conventions it follows or subverts

  • Read Film Studies textbook, Chapter 14, “Putting it Together: A Model 8* to 10-Page Paper” before class
  • Watch film to be announced in class
  • Review the materials from today’s class:
    • Slides (PDF) presented in class
    • Films excerpted in class