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Session 1

Session 1

This video was recorded at MIT 24.209 Philosophy In Film and Other Media - Spring 2004. Introduction to the class and to the aesthetics of film; explanation of syllabus. Discussion of "The Lady Eve" (1941), a film by Sturges, a contemporary of Orson Welles. Film will be shown in this week's class; scholar Marian Keane's commentary, an important example of a woman's perspective on the film, will be shown next week. Looking at movies is an art form and a skill that requires training. Prof. Singer brings to this course the perspective of a philosopher, which is not the case in all film courses. Singer's philosophy of teaching: he is willing to make himself available and put himself forward as an artist does; teaching is a form of self-expression, like art. On philosophy in film and other media (versus the philosophy of film). The idea that film is a respectable art with philosophical content, not just entertainment, is fairly new within the academy (within the last 20 years). How can films be philosophical? Singer's book Reality Transformed addresses this by looking at the concepts of formalism and realism together. Formalists can be characterized by their use of the camera, techniques of cinematography, structural issues (i.e., Hitchcock, who was a master of technique). Realists, as described by French theorist Andre Bazin, see the importance of film as part of the human desire to capture reality. Singer argues that films can't be appreciated unless you savor what they mean; without technique, there is no meaning, and without meaning, technique has no human importance. Only when you see formalism and realism in constant dialectic and interaction can you appreciate what a film is capable of. On the role of myths and mythmaking in film. How do stories reach people? Discussion of various myths of love and how they have been dealt with in film. Continuing overview of syllabus and films to be screened throughout semester. Review of course expectations and requirements.

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