FTVMS 215G Reading Contemporary Films

FTVMS 215G | B&E, EMHSS, LC | Semester Two 2016 | City Campus | Prerequisite: 90 points passed


This course introduces you to the critical analysis of contemporary film through case studies of specific films. In particular, this course focuses on the ways in which individual films use film form to create meaning, to communicate ideas and to construct representations of places and people, including relationships and communities.

In lectures and tutorials we will focus on close reading of the films themselves as well as contextual elements to do with industry, audience, and the influence of and resistance to Hollywood.

The course begins with Hollywood film and its characteristics then move on to examine Independent Hollywood productions before moving on to study examples from other national cinemas, large and small, and/or art and foreign language film.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will have:

  • honed your close reading skills in order to critically analyse films in terms of social and cultural context
  • come to understand specific films as forms arising out of competing forces of cultural expression and corporate enterprise.

Topics covered

The course is divided into Hollywood film and world film. Topics will include:

  • the tension between Hollywood and other cinemas
  • narrative and spectacle in the Hollywood film
  • narrative and storytelling techniques
  • the aesthetics of image and sound
  • the function of genre
  • contexts of production and consumption (including international co-financing and global distribution)
  • the impact of new technologies
  • current film criticism from academic analyses to popular reviews that function as part of routine marketing and publicity.


Two written assignments (40%)
Participation (10%)
Two-hour examination (50%)

Course coordinator

Dr Brenda Allen | b.allen@auckland.ac.nz