At the movies with Professor Levi: Film Studies 4

Opinion by Hannah Broderick
March 2, 2017, 12:14 a.m.

In the ever-going, never stopping daily grind, watching movies has always provided me with a means of tuning it all out, a mode of escape delivering on the promise of removal from the constraints of personal reality and placement into the limitlessness of pixilated possibility. Favorites of mine include “Legally Blonde,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and the CW’s teen targeted array of “One Tree Hill,” “Gossip Girl” and “Vampire Diaries.” This consumptive approach, one that took much and gave little, has been challenged and fundamentally altered this winter quarter through Professor Pavle Levi’s course Film Studies 4: Introduction to Film Studies.

As a prospective Art History minor, I took this course out of a cursory interest and need to fulfill a requirement. In other words, I was entirely unprepared both for the rigorous passion that is Professor Levi and for the excitement that his enthusiasm would engender in me. From the very first lecture, Professor Levi was animated, expressive and utterly fascinated by the cinema. His knowledge was evident yet understated; one got the feeling he was full of opinions but wanted his students to think for themselves. This infectious desire to parse through filmic elements and understand their role in shaping the greater narrative pushed me to look outside of class for the now more fully embodied experience of watching films. My internal monologue began to structure itself around film, often measuring time in terms of whether or not I could squeeze in a watch. My view of ideal study locations shifted to ideal watching locations. I discovered the Media and Microtext Center at the basement of Green library and the couches in Lathrop library. Over the course of the quarter I became a regular at the Stanford Theatre, often arriving early to listen to the live organ, eat my dollar popcorn, and swap movie recommendations with the ticket sellers. In other words, this course stretched beyond the borders of the classroom and reshaped the rhythms of my daily life.

As for the course’s structure, Film Studies 4 begins with lectures, readings and viewings of the first films ever made and moves chronologically through some of the major movements (German expressionism, soviet montage cinema, Italian neorealism, etc.) in film history. Thus, over the course of 10 weeks students are exposed to an immense array of film, filmic literature and filmic analysis. Weekly sections delve deeper into topics covered in lecture and always include the viewing and analysis of film clips and robust class conversation.

Through this course, I have been shown that regarding films as merely entertaining and escapist is disregards the ways in which they challenge conventional ways of seeing and synthesize their cultural moments. Language itself has been redefined as words like cinematography and mise-en-scène have taken on specific meanings in the context of film study. So often, as Stanford students, we ask ourselves how the school could better educate us. We fill out surveys, write evaluations and participate in open conversations. This course is an example of what Stanford is doing right. It is truly something to write home about, and an element of my life this quarter which I am fiercely thankful for.



Contact Hannah Broderick at inbloom ‘at’

Login or create an account

Apply to The Daily’s High School Summer Program

deadline EXTENDED TO april 28!