How to View and Appreciate Great Movies

Course No. 7000
Professor Eric Williams, M.F.A.
Ohio University
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Course No. 7000
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What Will You Learn?

  • The masks of characters: public, private, and personal and how they are used for connections and development.
  • How color and light affect the way we see" movies: with a foundation of 12 hues, six color schemes, four characteristics of light, and three ways to use light."
  • The complex and vital editing process: the three stages of editing and how an editor removes, inserts, and organizes hours and hours of footage.

Course Overview

You may sometimes wonder why a single scene from a movie stays with you long after the credits roll, yet in other cases, you can’t recall if you’ve even seen an entire film. Thinking about that memorable moment, what made that impression? Was it a particularly well-acted scene? The dramatic lighting? The emotion of the music? The tension that has built up? The ability to relate to the situation? A powerful choice of words? The answer is, simply, yes.

Understanding the intent of every aspect of a movie—from lighting to language, color to characters, stars to scores—can help you not only appreciate the movies you’re watching at a much more profound level but also open your eyes to the multitude of ways you’re being manipulated from the moment you sit down in the theater. A great filmmaker controls every sensation the movie evokes—tremors or tears, goosebumps or giggles. And while this may feel orchestrated when you begin to pull back the curtain and discover the secrets behind making great movies, you’ll also learn why we invite and welcome that manipulation.

Join professional filmmaker, author, and award-winning professor, Eric R. Williams, as he takes you behind the scenes with How to View and Appreciate Great Movies, sharing the concepts that he has developed as a professional filmmaker over the last 25 years. As he walks you through 250 different titles―some well-known, others less so―you’ll explore how every step of a movie is a choice and each choice has a significant impact on consciously and subconsciously influencing the audience.

View old favorites through a new lens including:

  • Casablanca
  • Citizen Kane
  • Jaws
  • The Godfather
  • Wizard of Oz
  • Star Wars
  • Rocky
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Apocalypse Now

You’ll unpack and examine the screenwriting, story building, sound choices, set design, lighting, special effects, editing, scores, characters, and more for these movies and hundreds of others. Each facet of filmmaking is controlled independently, and Professor Williams will demonstrate the essential step of amalgamating every perspective into a collaborative―if not unified―view, resulting in a symphony of creative decision-making. This process doesn’t always succeed, but when it does, it leaves a lasting impression.

Generalizations about Genres

Before diving into the nuts and bolts of filmmaking, Professor Williams zooms back for a wide-angle look at the bigger picture of films: the notion of genre. If you use Netflix to measure film genres, you might believe there are thousands of them. In fact, Netflix has categorized more than 27,000 genres—from “20th-Century Period Pieces for Hopeless Romantics” to “Feel-good Deep Sea Movies for Ages 8 to 10.” Once you start subdividing and adding in niche interests, the number seems limitless.

With this course, Professor Williams challenges the idea that there are a myriad of genres by redefining what a genre is, down to the nitty-gritty of establishing the difference between “action” and a “thriller.” He’ll break down how and why you can use genres to better find, understand, and appreciate movies as he introduces you to the concepts of super genre, macrogenres, and microgenres.

Perhaps one of the most interesting revelations concerning genres is when Professor Williams divulges how great movies can often use genre against us. A good filmmaker will know to how to anticipate an audience’s expectations before they’ve even walked into a theater. If we signed up for a Romeo and Juliet experience, it better include: a couple overcoming obstacles; falling in love against all odds; and then the ultimate, albeit expected, tragic death of one or both of them. And the filmmaker knows we better make use of the tissues we brought with us because that is what we are expecting. When we don’t—when the movie doesn’t meet our preconceived expectations, it’s not considered a “Great Movie.”

Or, is it?

As previously noted, filmmakers have the power to manipulate every single facet of our experience and sometimes by playing with the notion of what we predict, the surprise that results is just as satisfying as the conclusion we expected. Consider Psycho. This oft-lauded film starts off as a crime movie but turns into a horror movie when director Alfred Hitchcock [SPOILER ALERT] kills the protagonist (a huge star who was portrayed as being the main character, so you expect her to live through the entire film) at the end of the first act in cold blood.

Genre is not a steadfast rule. Expectations exist to be bent, twisted, broken, undone, exaggerated, minimized—most of all—controlled. And often, a great movie will take the stereotypes you associate with the genre and will surprise you by turning them on their head. Or, sometimes it will blend genres. Or, it might start as one genre and end as another. It’s no wonder we readily accept there are 27,000 genre possibilities—that’s the filmmakers playing with us again.

Why Sights and Sounds Make Sense(s)

Seeing—and hearing—is believing, especially in the mystical world of movies where we are being asked to believe the unbelievable from the moment we sit down. How do you convince audiences that what Harry feels for Sally is true love, that the giant animatronic shark could be a real threat to anyone in water anywhere, or that super powers are not only possible but easily accessible to anyone with access to super-suits, special spiders, or Stark Industries? To paraphrase The X Files, we want to believe, but the filmmakers have to do their part to get us emotionally invested enough to want to believe. That investment involves building worlds that ensure our senses are satisfied with the experience, down to the smallest detail.

Spending more than half a dozen lectures on the nuts and bolts of movies, Professor Williams uncovers the tricks used to help us suspend our disbelief, let go of our cynicism, and buy in—including the use of sounds, scores, lighting, color, and special effects. You’ll discover how even these seemingly small details can greatly enhance or detract from the theme, atmosphere, and story.   

  • Consider Sound. When you watch a storm on the screen, you expect to hear rain. But is the rain pounding or sprinkling? Is there wind? Is it romantic-kissing rain or a tension-building thunder storm? Discover how the intensity, realism, or lack of sounds in a scene can not only add to it but also can help define it.

 

  • Consider Color. Would The Martian feel otherworldly if it was full of Earth’s greens and blues? Would Do The Right Thing have the same visual impact if it was shot in black and white? Color choices are never unintentional because they alter how the audience sees the movie (literally and figuratively).

 

  • Consider Location. There’s a reason you rarely see ghost stories occur in modern condos—you need the spooky, creaky, dark, and broken old house to increase the fear factor. The house, in essence, becomes a character itself.
  • Consider Score. You don’t even need to see the giant animatronic shark to feel dread when you hear the iconic “Duh-nuh – duh nuh duh nuh – duh nuh duh nuh duh nuh.” The most terrifying moments of Jaws are not built with visuals but with music. Learn how scores provide the emotional architecture to the story.

 

  • Consider Special Effects. The 3-D achievements of Avatar transported us INTO Pandora rather than showing us another planet, while the computer-generated imagery (CGI) in The Polar Express demonstrated the pitfalls that relying on technology can bring.

After viewing these lectures, the Academy Award categories for Editing, Cinematography, Sound Design, and more suddenly take on a whole new meaning. You’ll go into movies with a new eye for detail and a deeper appreciation for the nuances and minutiae that create the bigger experience.

 

Acting!

Slap Adam Sandler’s name on the trailer and chances are the movie will earn millions, regardless of plot, story, editing, or any of the other components that make great movies. And sometimes, that’s all filmmakers do. While marketable and financially successful, those movies are rarely great.

Professor Williams spends several lectures delving into characters, actors, and relationships.
Examining established archetypes and character types; sprinkling in Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and the psychology of a story; and looking at the vital role of the antagonist, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of how characters are built, what their purpose is in a story, and why different characters behave the way they do.

Some of the fascinating insights Professor Williams provides about characters include:

  • The surprising way directors will intentionally cast stars for or against their expected “type” to reinforce or subvert our preconceived expectations.
  • An antagonist is vital to every movie, no matter what the genre. However, the antagonist is not always a villain. He can be a friend, an organization, a stranger, an animal, an environment, or even the protagonist himself.
  • All great villains are a distorted reflection of the hero.
  • Supporting characters represent the hearts and souls of main characters and are essential to revealing what the main characters are not.

 

Meta Movie Making

One of the best components of How to View and Appreciate Great Movies is that this course about how movies are produced is a production in and of itself. Professor Williams takes a fun, tongue-in-cheek approach, often breaking the fourth wall, revealing tricks of the trade, and drawing parallels between filming a movie and filming the course.

Relaxed, engaging, self-deprecating, and charmingly personal, Professor Williams invites you into the set and his views with humor and warmth. You’ll feel as if he were personally watching each movie with you and guiding you through the components of what made it great.   

The information you take away from the course is invaluable to enhancing your appreciation of films and is presented in a way that is easy to adapt into your own viewing habits. You’ll find yourself not only watching movies in a completely new way, but reviewing and talking about them from an entirely new and better-informed perspective.

Professor Williams often refers to filmmaking as a kind of magic trick—an illusion. And once you
understand the trick, pull back the curtain, and go backstage—behind the camera, inside the script—to see the creative process from the filmmaker’s point of view, the magic show can
never be the same again. Knowing that no decision made in the film process is arbitrary and every component is engineered to maintain control and manipulate your reactions can feel like it might ruin your movie-going experience, but as you’ll discover, it simply strengthens your love for what’s unfolding before your eyes and gives you a new set of creative and analytical tools to bring with you to the movies.

Roger Ebert once said, “Every great film should seem new every time you see it” and that’s exactly what How to View and Appreciate Great Movies ensures.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Art of the Silver Screen
    Professor Williams introduces his passion for film by explaining exactly what experience he wants to capture—what makes movies magic for him. He provides a brief history of movies and foreshadows elements of the course that he will be digging deeper into including music, framing, and the three-act structure, tying the whole thing together by familiarizing you with what he considers one of the most important movie elements: tension. x
  • 2
    We All Need Another Hero: Universal Stories
    Professor Williams introduces you to the story of a young hero, living a boring life on a small farm. Through extreme circumstances, the hero is whisked off on a journey through new lands full of strange and colorful characters, and introduced to a dangerous foe. The hero rises to various challenges, finds friends, and ultimate defeats the bad guy in a neat, happy ending. This is Professor Williams’s favorite movie. Is it Star Wars? Is it The Wizard of Oz? Uncover the foundation of Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” and explore how this plot device shows up in many seemingly unrelated films and genres. x
  • 3
    Movie Genre: It's Not What You Think
    Begin this lecture with a challenge: How many film genres are there? Professor Williams spends this lecture introducing you to the definitive list of genres based on what happens in the film and how the movie makes you feel, not an arbitrary and generalized category. Diving deeply into the meanings and examples of movie genres can help you better define what you look for and love. As for the actual number of film genres Professor Williams has established? You'll have to watch the lecture to find out the answer. x
  • 4
    Genre Layers and Audience Expectations
    Become familiar with three simple variations of film genre: super genre, macrogenres, and microgenres. Professor Williams will further break down each by filtering in three important variables: atmosphere, character, and story. He'll discern the difference between a heist film and an escape film, explain how the characters with whom your sympathies lay often define the genre you are viewing, and show how one movie can encapsulate multiple macro- and microgenres, with each additional label changing your expectations. x
  • 5
    Popcorn Can Wait: Story Shape and Tension
    Professor Williams introduces the relationship between story shape and story rhythm. By presenting the shape for several genres—and you may be surprised to see he presents actual, recognizable shapes—you start to see the rhythm for your story and rhythms are essentially a pattern. To keep us coming back, sometimes filmmakers break the rhythm, while at other times they present the same pattern out of order. Characters, dialogue, and plot all play a part. But ultimately, building tension is the thing that keeps us in our seats and coming back. x
  • 6
    Themes on Screen
    Examine the concept of theme through a spectrum of approaches ranging from traditional filmmakers who believe that their role is to be part educator, philosopher, or theologian and the non-traditional filmmakers who often present messy and contradictory situations or characters without moralizing, lecturing, or judging. Professor Williams then layers on the method of storytelling chosen to present the movie theme—active vs. didactic vs. both, creating a matrix upon which he breaks down and plots several popular movies to help illustrate what the theme is and to determine when and how the theme will make its way into the film. x
  • 7
    Paradigm Shift: Citizen Kane and Casablanca
    Looking at two iconic films that make up the yin and yang of filmmaking—Casablanca and Citizen Kane—Professor Williams looks at the historical context, the important elements, and the lasting influence these films have made on every component of movie making over the last 75 years. As Professor Williams breaks down Casablanca, you’ll better understand the three factors that made this movie an instant classic, suitable for repeat viewing: the characters, the theme, and the ending. With Citizen Kane, he’ll introduce you to seven groundbreaking film techniques that changed movies forever. x
  • 8
    The Language of Visual Storytelling
    Learn how to look at film as you might study a painting. Professor Williams opens by explaining how visual literacy is based upon at least four central factors: color, space, line, and shapes. He then delves into the distinct camera moves and how each pan, zoom, and dolly brings you a different view and impression of what you're seeing. Using classically, beautifully shot movies such as Blow Up, American Beauty, Jaws, and others, you'll examine framing and filming constructs such as the rule of thirds" and point of interest." x
  • 9
    Building Screen Space: Blocking and Framing
    On a basic level, blocking is the way that characters interact in a space. Framing is the way in which the blocking is captured by a camera. It seems foolproof, so it's hard to believe what a subconscious impact it can have when done well. Professor Williams explains how both framing and blocking can be broken down into the elements of lines and shape and scale. Using a plethora of examples including The Wizard of Oz, The Manchurian Candidate, Good Will Hunting, and others, you'll explore what sorts of messages good blocking and framing can send. x
  • 10
    The Cutting Room Floor: Powerful Editing
    What happens in an editing booth is a mystery to many of us. Professor Williams illuminates this complex and vital process, introducing the three stages of editing and delving into how an editor removes, inserts, and organizes hours and hours of footage into a comprehensive, visually literate film that resonates with the audience. Looking at movies including Roshomon, Slumdog Millionaire, The Godfather II, Reservoir Dogs, and more, you'll explore examples of how editing can visually manipulate us, while setting the tone, pace, and thematic intention of the movie. x
  • 11
    Sound Design and Acoustic Illusion
    Professor Williams introduces you to the four approaches to film sound, provides eye-opening (or perhaps “ear-opening”) insights into where the sound made a scene memorable in films such as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and The Hurt Locker, and how tuning us into what our character hears provides us with more than just background noise. x
  • 12
    Setting the Scene: Masterful Set Design
    Dive into Apollo 13, The Shining, Room, Clockwork Orange, and more, to discover how props and set design can set a story up, introduce the characters, and provide clues about what to expect before the first line of dialogue has been spoken. Professor Williams demonstrates how the evolution or degradation of the set and props can often act as a mirror to the character's mental state. x
  • 13
    Special Effects in the 20th Century
    In the first of two lectures focused on the gamut of special effects from puppets to AI, you'll learn the history and the science behind the magic we see and believe. Professor Williams unpacks the two types of special effects, complete with plenty of examples, and teases what two movies he believes are among the greatest special effects movies of all time. x
  • 14
    Special Effects in the 21st Century
    You’ll go behind the scenes to discover the different ways stars interact with characters who don’t exist and the details that need to be captured—such as the correct angle of a non-existent sun reflection—when nothing you are filming is real. Plus, Professor Williams reveals his two picks for greatest special effects movie, and we’re pretty sure you’ll be surprised when you hear them. x
  • 15
    Scoring the Story: Music in Film
    Music tells a story and in film, it serves to continue or enhance the story you are watching via what you are hearing. Whether diegetic or non-diegetic, Professor Williams demonstrates how music becomes a motif or a leitmotif, acting as a guide for our subconscious attention, escorting us from scene to scene, or carrying us across continents, providing emotional cues and setting the stage for what to expect. Using examples from Jaws, Rocky, Star Wars and more, he demonstrates how just like with every other facet of moviemaking, filmmakers can use a score to adhere to—or subvert—your expectations. x
  • 16
    Color and Light: Elements of Atmosphere
    Superficially, color and light add to a film’s aesthetic qualities, but Professor Williams will show you color and light can be used to tell a deeper story—emotionally and intellectually. Looking at a variety of films that make creative use of color and light, including Do The Right Thing, The Life of Pi, The Martian, and Schindler’s List, you’ll become familiar with a foundation of 12 hues, six color schemes, four characteristics of light, and three ways to use light—as well as what each means and how various combinations can alter how the audience sees the movie (literally and figuratively). x
  • 17
    Knowing Characters from the Inside Out
    Professor Williams introduces the use of masks: public, private, and personal. He demonstrates that as characters pull each one off, we get to know them (and connect with them) better. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Imitation Game provide contrasting studies in the way the masks are used to reveal characters, and more importantly, to help you discern their motivation—What a character wants and what the character is willing to do to get it. Once the motivation is clear, the complexities of the character can be as well. x
  • 18
    Knowing Characters from the Outside In
    Professor Williams challenges you to read the screenplay of a movie you haven’t seen yet as if you were a detective, gleaning what you can about the plot, characters, and relationships simply from the word choices. Through a reading of Lean on Me, Professor Williams introduces you to the things you can learn about a character from what he or she says and what he or she portrays—or doesn’t say. x
  • 19
    Secondary Characters and Supporting Actors
    Thelma and Louise, The Godfather, and Barton Fink provide the backdrop for an expansive consideration of how supporting roles are used to influence our opinion of the protagonist. Professor Williams explores the idea that by pushing, reacting, and reflecting, the secondary characters define motive and reveal what the main characters are not. They represent the hearts and souls of our main characters. x
  • 20
    Star Power: Lead Actors and Their Roles
    Professor Williams acknowledges he can't tell you how an actor does what he or she does, but through this lecture he helps you appreciate the nuance that goes into acting as he breaks down the role of an actor. As you travel through Psycho, Get Out, The Thin Red Line, Rounders, and others, you discover what actors do (or should do) to prepare for roles and the pressure to portray believability. x
  • 21
    Character Relationships and Audience Empathy
    How relationships work is complex enough in reality. Professor Williams uses Precious and The Piano, and sprinkles in theories from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, to illustrate how relationships are established, how the relationships work, and how they create tension in film. Examining established archetypes and character types, Professor Williams shows you how easy it is to make movies predictable and how objective and intention can help subvert expectations. x
  • 22
    Pathways to Great Antagonists
    Discover how a great villain is created and that a villain and an antagonist are not the same. Professor Williams demonstrates how all great villains are a distorted reflection of the hero, through movies including The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, The Silence of the Lambs, and Rocky. He unpacks why the antagonist may not always be bad, but must be present. Additionally, you'll explore the four thematic groupings (pathways) and how the protagonist and antagonist are utilized in each. x
  • 23
    Point of View in Script and on Screen
    As the lens through which the audience views the story, the point of view a movie takes can truly enhance your appreciation for how stories in movies can be told. Professor Williams reveals the decision trees that come with crafting the point of view, starting with three central questions. Using Annie Hall, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Sherlock Holmes, No Country for Old Men, and more, you get a handle on how to decipher the POV and the reason behind it, adding a whole new dimension to your enjoyment of the story. x
  • 24
    Filmmaker's Voice and Audience Choice
    After breaking down the filmmaker’s voice into six central parts, Professor Williams demonstrates how the audience itself—specifically our expectations—can play a key role in voice. Looking at films such as Anomolisa, The Artist, When Harry Met Sally, and others, you’ll see why it is what the filmmaker chooses to say with their voice that is important. Professor Williams also provides a list of five ways audiences can be made uncomfortable, reveals what a movie can tell you about itself in the first 10 minutes, and introduces three movies you’ve probably never heard of, but shouldn’t miss. x

Lecture Titles

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Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 203-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 203-page printed course guidebook
  • Films Referenced by Lecture
  • Photos and illustrations
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Eric Williams

About Your Professor

Eric Williams, M.F.A.
Ohio University
Eric R. Williams is a Professor in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University, where he teaches courses on screenwriting, film, and virtual reality production. He is also the director of the MFA in Communication Media Arts program at Ohio University. Professor Williams received his bachelor’s degree in Communication with a minor in Education from Northwestern University, and he earned his Master of Fine Arts...
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Reviews

How to View and Appreciate Great Movies is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 57.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great topic, but only partially successful I love movies, and talking and reading about movies, and movie trivia. Never having had any formal instruction in the science, techniques, and history of film, I ordered this course with great expectations—a chance to get some real academic infrastructure for my avocational interest. But while its scope and goals are right on target, and the instructor is a good teacher who definitely knows his stuff, the course left me unsatisfied in several respects. Chief among these was its lack of illustration and example, in a field that relies fundamentally on the visual and the auditory. While Professor Williams cites and discusses many films in addressing each topic (the course booklet lists over 400 movie citations in the 24 lectures, although many of them are duplicates), we don’t get to actually see excerpts or even stills from them. Most likely this reflects copyright restrictions, and it’s OK for some topics—discussions of movie genres, character development, heroes and villains, etc—but much more problematic when it comes to teaching us about such things as cinematography, sound design, color and light, and special effects. In those areas it was like watching a lecture on the Mona Lisa that went into detail on Leonardo’s brush techniques, background effects, perspective, and framing without our ever being able to see the actual painting being discussed. As the course progressed this was less an issue with the cited movies I knew well (maybe half of them), but increasingly problematic for unfamiliar ones, leaving me a bit dissatisfied. I won’t comment on the ersatz CGI and skits put together on the set in an effort to make up for this problem, except to say that, for me, they definitely fell short. However, my wife thought the introductory sequence for the lectures—both visual and sound—was the most original of any of the 100+ courses we’ve watched, and I agree.
Date published: 2019-05-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dissappointed Course was too much of professor just talking, not nearly enough video and still examples of what makes a good movie and why. Did not add much to my knowledge of film.
Date published: 2019-05-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Movies but no movies I got this knowing that there would be restrictions on showing the film clips but I think at least some of the photos for the scenes that were discussed would be shown. Just as much could have been gathered from getting some of the many books on movies already published, and they have photos to show the points or ideas being mentioned. Way too much talk to cover up the missing scenes and some of the movies were not that popular to warrant the amount of discussion. I do not intend to buy or watch each of them just for a few moments explanation. I do not recommend this.
Date published: 2019-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I learned a lot! I was amazed at how much goes into making a film, and at how much needs to be considered to fully appreciate a movie. And that's both the good news and the bad news about this course. The good news is that there's a tremendous amount of information to be had, dissecting each nuance of movie making. The instructor really knows his subject! But that's also the course's biggest weakness, IMNSHO: it's often difficult to see the forest for the trees. I would have really liked to have had a broad overview of the subject of film appreciation, as well as a glossary of terms. It also would have added a lot to have seen brief film clips that illustrated each of the points the professor makes. There was too much talking and not enough showing for my taste.
Date published: 2019-04-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from It is a title I have been trying for a week while trying to do a lot of other work. I put the disk in my DVD drive. It show up on the screen. However there is NO PLAY BUTTON highlighted. I tried a second dVD player, same thing. I use a MAC and use their DVD play, which has worked very well for me. Am I missing some secret code?
Date published: 2019-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED this course. As a writer, I found it to be more relevant to me than any of your writing courses I've viewed. Characters, point of view, editing, setting the scene, secondary characters, themes...I was in awe of how well they were covered. Furthermore, the Professor was amazing! So many of your instructors are stuffy or stiff-sounding. Eric Williams was wonderful: engaging, funny, and easy to understand his points. I highly recommend this course, whether you want to learn about movies, about writing, or if you just want to be entertained and inspired.
Date published: 2019-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation well worth the purchase As a movie buff, this course has clarified and expanded my knowledge of the film industry.
Date published: 2019-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from how to review and appreciate great movies Excellent course especially for me(I love movies but didn’t know the mechanics of the film making process). Lots of info. Many movie recommendations. I’ll definitely watch this one again, and read the book.
Date published: 2019-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LIGHTS, CAMERA, MOVIES! GREAT COURSE!! I read the review below mine. I first wondered if he has actually watched the course. "Movies" is easily hands down my favorite Great Courses yet. Yes, I would have liked to see clips. I would have. With that out of the way what a great course. It had me bing watching which I NEVER do. So clap clap clap to Professor Williams and his film crew for making this course informative AND very entertaining.
Date published: 2019-04-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Appealing title 50 years ago, I took writing in college, which turned out to be a lecture course with almost no writing. Needless to say, I didn't emerge a better writer. Years ago, I bought your music courses hoping to learn about music, but gave it up when it turned out to be a music-less lecture series. Now I have a course on movies without movies, nor clips, and precious few stills, and those not used to illustrate points. The book is as helpful as the lectures, and quicker. It earned the course its two stars. I understand the limitations of copyrighted material, but zero? Has the instructor never used his own medium for instructive examples? At least shot stills to show different techniques? I am holding your courses on photography and woodworking with some fear that I'll find they, too, are all lecture.
Date published: 2019-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greater than the rest I’ve purchased many great courses and this is by far one of my favorite. I highly recommend. I found the flow of the course kept me watching is I’m ashamed to say is rare. I purchase courses and never get very far. This course is an exception. I got thru the lectures in a very short time. I was actually disappointed when I reached the end. Please make another!
Date published: 2019-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from VERY VERY VERY WELL DONE My husband and I really enjoyed this course. We had discovered This Great Courses from one of your mailings. A few years back we purchased a few courses and found that it did not really appeal to us. Sine then we usually just toss the mailings out but this time we peeked inside and decided to order Prof Williams course. We binged thru it together. It was GREAT. We both highly recommend.
Date published: 2019-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Should be on TCM. What a professional job. The Great Courses is usually known as the 70% off company. With production quality like this one, you should drop the discount and present your quality as your selling point. Very well cast, very well produced. I've recently begun watching programs from Masterclass. This course would fit right in. I can't remember the last course I've watched that truly engaged and connected with the audience the way this one does. Whoever found Professor Williams should get a gold star. I've taken other online courses on film but this one shines above the rest. The content is wide-ranging and unfolds in an easy to understand and follow the system. Professor Williams made me want to move forward onto the next lesson. This is rare. Most Great Courses courses lose me early on. I wasn't going to purchase another course for that very reason but I'm glad I did. The overall production quality is top rate, very well done. The other Eric, yes it seems that this is an Eric production, should get two gold stars and a bunch of bananas. You'll have to watch the credits to understand my reference. I don't usually watch the credits but this one is a must. One question, the course has a dedication at the end. Who is she? Thank you, Professor Williams, I look forward to seeing you again in part 2?
Date published: 2019-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A show stopper Simply outstanding and time well spent. Very happy with content and production. It covers a lot of ground and opens a new world to appreciating the complexity of movies. So I will watch again. And there are a couple of books now on my wish list. If you haven’t seen Screenwriting 101, these two make for a great set. The introductory lectures on breaking down super genres to macro and micro genres were an enjoyable way to stretch the mind. Some viewers have noted that actual footage from movies is not included. I say, thanks very much for producing it that way. As lectures are only 30 minutes each, I do NOT want to watch brief clips embedded in the lectures. Thanks anyway, but I’ll watch the movie in its entirety. Sure, some of the graphics were a little campy, e.g. the lecture on special effects; some might have been a little amateurish, e.g. Wizard of Oz. But it was all fun and quite memorable. Thanks for everyone’s contribution. Which leads me to Guidebook Questions / Activities in at the end of each lecture. These were useful and practical and very engaging. I want to encourage everyone to actually do some of them. You’ll get your money’s worth and you’ll get a deeper, hands-on understanding of movies. For example, Lecture 18: finding a screenplay online of a movie you haven’t seen before and examine word choice and sentence structure to build a character in your mind. Then see the movie. But then watch a movie before reading the screenplay. Brilliant. Lecture 16: Color and Light. Brilliant. Lecture 11: Set Design. Awesome. Lecture 7: Paradigm Shift. Watch movies: one pre-1940. One post-1950. Then compare with Citizen Kane. Fun! I could go on and on. There’s a Film Reference at the end of the Guidebook. Very handy. Finally, community help: Transitions between lectures paid homage to movies with the use of graphic icons. There’s the gun, Dirty Harry. The plane and Empire State Building, King Kong. Bowler hat, Charlie Chaplin. Umbrella, Mary Poppins. The spiral, James Bond. The bicycle, ET. Am I wrong? How many did I miss? Music was good, too.
Date published: 2019-02-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Absolute garbage This lecture gets totally down into the weeds about EVERYTHING, and then glosses over everything that is touched on while there. Nothing is explored or illustrated in detail, or by even by showing a remotely adequate example. He makes dozens and dozens of film references to illustrate the topic he is momentarily glossing over, but you NEVER SEE any of them. And when he says something like "let's look at how X uses this concept in his film Y", you don't see a clip form the film. You see a cheesy, static graphic. It's a total waste of time.
Date published: 2019-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Courses I've purchased many Great Courses before. This is one is of the most visually impacting and creative set of lectures I've viewed. It is very professional stitched together which complements Professor Williams delightful presentation and content. I've been a life long learner and have appreciated the efforts when trying to keep your products fresh and modern. I still remember when Professors would stand at a podium and deliver the lecture as if they were in a lecture hall. I've noticed a nice trend to make your courses more visually impacting. This course is one such course. I do agree that it would have been nice to see the actual movie clips discussed. I'm not sure why there are none considering there are literally thousands of movie review videos on paid youtube channels being used legally. They seem to aquire the basic rights to clips for free. Perhaps next time you'll figure it out. As for the course, there are plenty of visual aids. Still, slick animations, neat recreations - love Rosebud! Professor Williams you truly delivered! I hope they bring you back to make another one.
Date published: 2019-02-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from view with popcorn a breezy, lightweight course on the intricacies of putting together a movie
Date published: 2019-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! The professor does such a good job I hope he will do a course on the "history of film."
Date published: 2019-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's a WRAP! Prof Williams best film Instructor My family, who's now fully prepped and ready for Oscars 2019, completed Prof Williams wonderfully crafted film appreciation course. We actually took notes and then debated our film selects for the 2019 awards. Thank you Prof Williams and your magical filmmakers for enriching us. Your lectures had become our diner time conversation piece. When it gets warmer Dad plans to set up a film making foley shop in our garage and have a film making foley script party. We have a large screen projector - I can't wait. You've filled all our of minds and have fed our passions. Who knows where this spark will lead? The sections that I found most enlightening were the film comparisons. What I've done is after watching "Green Book" I took out my notes and used your story graphs and arcs to see how it lines up. I compared the story outline with two other moves, "Green Book" btw, is my favorite to win. Other points of interest in the course, and there are so many are all the visual set ups where Prof Williams acts out. OH, the black and white "Rosebud"!! I went back and watched the original movie and your recreation is so close. If I didn't know it was a reaction I would have thought it was the original. The Foley section was fun - obviously a fav. The moments where you hold the lgiht saber and shoot the lights out on the set. Very clever. The epic space battle. You should get best supporting actor for that for sure. This was also really heart warming. At the end of each lecture you end it with a special Roger Ebert thought. It helped me connect your passion with my own. I'm a junior now and I'm actually now considering applying to a film school . If you happen to read this Prof Williams, do you have any suggestions? Thank you evey one for filling my winter break with movie magic. Hey, you should do a full course on movie special effects!
Date published: 2019-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Five Golden Stars I read the reviews and was on the fence about ordering it or not. I’m glad I did. Professor Williams is one Fantastic teacher. I’m only a few lectures in and I’m a fan. I agree with many of the other viewers, this course is very well put together. I like the old Hollywood stage .i might add to review when I’ve completed the course.
Date published: 2019-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative if you appreciate movies The course is very well produced and features someone who obviously knows his material. The insight and analysis of film making helps to understand and appreciate what it take to make a good movie. Giving examples of movies that use the principles he mentions helps to make the material relevant and understandable.
Date published: 2019-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Williams engages you with his antics ! I’ve had this course for about three months now and just finished the last of the 24 lectures (each lasting about 35-40 minutes. I think I’ve taken (and reviewed) most of the “performing arts” and “travel videos” from TGC over the years. Until taking this course, my favorite has been the “Great American Music: Broadway Musicals” with Professor Bill Messenger. (HIGHLY recommended!) Well, now I have an equal favorite; this one.) The lecturer, Eric Williams, has a great personality and a real sense of humor. One of the issues I’ve had with some of the course I’ve taken is how the lecturer uses body language. In the early days of TGC the directors were trying to have you imagine that you are in a classroom and the speaker would sometimes face sideways with losing eye contact. Messenger has an earlier course on “The Elements of Jazz” which – in the old VHS days was available on video. It’s only on audio now – which works well – because you are not watching the speaker’s odd “body language”. He’s much improved in the Broadway Musical course I might add. But back to Professor Williams and this course. Williams – who is a “screenwriter” when not teaching at Ohio University comes across as your best friend (if your friend knew some of the big technical words Williams uses.) He dresses casually (and sometimes in costume!) and the set is filled with all kinds of “tools of the trade” like sound effects devices, editing machines and old movie posters. Note that the bio says Williams has “written over 30 screenplays”– though the imDB shows he only wrote one film “Snakes and Arrows” in 1996 - a film he produced and directed. But, heck the guy teaches film appreciation and that’s why you are here, right? And he is entertaining! One of the major issues that TGC has to deal with in creating courses about the entertainment industry is how they have to deal with copyright laws which go back more than 60 years. I want to refer back to the Great Musicals course to point out that Professor Messenger plays recordings of musical from just before 1900 to the late 1940s. But then he needs to switch to using live performances because of – yep! – Copyright and royalties. In the case of the “movies” course Professor Williams has an even bigger program since the major studios still own the rights. So he can use stills from “Star Wars” or “The Wizard of Oz” (the two classic films that show up most in this course along with “The Godfather”, “Thelma and Louise” and “The Shawshank Redemption”) but not film clips. He can’t even use the soundtrack theme from “star Wars”. So he gets an a capella group to sing the theme. There are also some (sometimes) clever animated sequences to replicate a scene from a film. As you watch each episode it’s good to have a paper and pen handy – or the 198-page “course guide” that comes with the DVDs. That’s because, while nearly everyone will know many of the films (has anyone NOT seen “The Wizard of Oz: or “Star Wars”?), there will be some new to you or ones you haven’t seen in decades (“The Piano” anyone?). Each film mentioned is listed in the “Guide”. Williams also cleverly finds his images on the internet as public domain. The ending credits to the course run nearly four minutes (!) as the sources roll by. So I am very happy with this course and will look at films in a different way from now on. I’d love to see Williams again though his specialty (unless it’s a course on screenwriting – for which I have no interest) sort of ends that wish. This is also a course that a family can watch together. There is no age (above 12 years old) that would get something from it.
Date published: 2018-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth a second look... I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The passion that Professor Williams has for the material comes through in every episode. I am getting ready to go through the course again, this time with notebook and pen in hand. As I watched each lecture I found myself applying what I was learning to my favorite films, especially those of Wes Anderson. Anderson has long been my favorite filmmaker. I feel I came out of this course with a better and deeper appreciation of Anderson's work even though none of his movies were discussed. I had often wondered why I liked his movies so much. I chalked it up to the whimsical nature of the universes he creates along with the quirky dialogue that he is so fond of. Now that I have a deeper understanding of aspects of film making such as color palettes, set design, and blocking and framing, I have a much better sense of why I love those films. I would take another course with this professor regardless of the specific topic. Professor Williams’ approach to his work is intelligent and thoughtful. I am very happy that I found this course and this professor.
Date published: 2018-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How to view Great Movies - a recommend. I enjoyed the downloaded video version. My criteria for success? Did it keep me interested and wanting to listen to the next lecture? Yes. Did I learn a lot and stuff that was either interesting or useful? ( I almost always learn something with Great Courses) Yes. Did it stimulate me to either seek out more on the subject or more by the lecturer? Yes a recommend
Date published: 2018-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course I agree with the other reviewers that Eric's lectures should include film clips. I also agree that the CGI illustrations are a poor substitute for still shots from the films. Eric's delivery is consistently engaging, but his corny humor can be distracting. I think that rolling the credits 24 times at the beginning of each lecture is annoying. Other than that, I enjoyed Eric's lectures. Eric is a very good teacher, who taught me a lot about films and film making. I'll look at films differently from now on. I bought this set for a friend's high-school daughter who dreams of making films. I'm sure that Eric's enthusiasm will inspire the young lady to pursue her dreams.
Date published: 2018-11-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I have not yet started to watch the series, but the quality of printing in the accompanying book makes it very difficult to read. If I received a poor copy, pls. send me another one so I can read it.
Date published: 2018-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I am showing this video to a group of Jr. and Sr. High homeschoolers as a weekly class with discussion following. We have thoroughly enjoyed the videos. The teacher is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and engaging. His examples are fresh and to the point. We (myself, other parents, and the students themselves) have only one complaint; in many of the video classes, Professor Williams feels the need to use mildly profane language that we feel is unsuitable for a classroom setting and unprofessional. His vocabulary is exemplary, and therefore the mild expletives are an unnecessary addition to an otherwise excellent presentation of a very interesting subject.
Date published: 2018-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What I expected from the course I always thought movies were 20 times harder to make than photographs. Now I know movies are 100 times harder. I appreciated all the detail but I would have liked to see more pictorial examples from films. You should study this course if you don't see how similar The Wizard of Oz is to Star Wars.
Date published: 2018-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative, enthusiastic instructor Opened my eyes to the world of film making. I have a library of over 10,000 films on DVD. I will be watching many of these films again armed with new insight and appreciation. The instructor's grasp of film making technology is superb. I would look forward to a course on film history.
Date published: 2018-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is so good I'm gifting it to my movie friends This course made me more aware and intelligent in several important ways, and that's my goal in watching The Great Courses. Eric Williams is an outstanding teacher, his enthusiasm is infectious, and his story telling skills are world class. This is how story telling is done really well. Eric pulls the curtain back, and shows the structure and tools used in modern story telling in film. More importantly to me, I can use the same skills and ideas in my personal and professional life. Whether that's what tension is, or what makes a great character really great, or many other lessons, there are many lessons for me in this class. There are many ideas that were new to me, and that's what makes me more aware and intelligent. That's the sign of a fantastic course. Excellent job by everyone involved in the creation of this course. This is truly one of the best courses I've ever seen. Thanks to The Great Courses for an excellent job!
Date published: 2018-10-21
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