Further Film Studies: Char-actors!

What do we mean when we say somebody is a good actor or gives a convincing performance? What criteria do we apply? What (and who) makes a star a star?

This intermediate level film course will concentrate on issues of acting / performance / characterisation. A wide variety of films will be discussed with regard to the acting styles of their lead actors and supporting cast. The material will be drawn from a variety of sources from different periods of film history. The relationship of director and actor will be explored, as will issues of stardom.

£60 full / £45 concs.


It is envisaged that the first half of the course will concentrate on acting styles, incorporating the voice, expression, physical movement, costume, and acting accessories. We will then apply our analytical skills to a film that shows different acting styles by a number of actors. This film will be screened in the third week of the course.

In the second half of the course we will concentrate on stardom. Our studies will involve textual and contextual analysis. Director-star-audience relationships, the social environment and some film theoretical issues will be at the centre of this part of the course. THE BLUE ANGEL (1930) and related films will form our case study.

  • Level

Since this is a course at intermediate level, it assumes a familiarity with basic ideas of film studies and builds upon knowledge gained, for example, in the Essential Introduction to Film Course.

  • Recommended reading

There’s no prior reading required for this course but a good introduction to essential concepts of film analysis is:

Roberts, Graham and Wallis, Heather, Introducing Film, Arnold, 2001.

During the course further reading will be suggested, and photocopies of relevant articles handed out to the participants.

  • Film Screenings

There will be two course screenings:

27 May 2008 AMERICAN BEAUTY (Sam Mendes, 1999)

17 June 2008 BLUE ANGEL (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)