In space, no one can hear you scream.

Silence seems to have become a key cue in the science fiction film, from Scott and Cameron's iterations of the Alien franchise (Alien UK/US 1979 and Aliens US 1986), through Nolan's Interstellar (US 2014), and Cuaron's Gravity (US 2014) to the recent outing Arrival (US 2016 dir: Denis Villeneuve). Silence is a of course a feature of a vacuum, but is this why it is also a feature of some science fiction film? There are obvious connotations one could read into ...

A guide I use for students to prepare their oral presentations

In my teaching universe we are currently going through the second practice for our students at the oral presentation. Our process introduced them to it in December, where they prepare a series of slides on a sequence addressing the full pressie assessment criteria (well, all except the socio-cultural context). This is a weighted assessment task for semester one and helps determine semester performance grades. At the beginning of semester two our students, acting on detailed feedback from their slide 'presentation', ...

Visual Arts Internal Assessment Upload: Quick Overview

It’s April! That means for many of us its VISUAL ARTS UPLOAD MONTH! Of the three components the most complex in terms of files and the upload process is the Exhibition The aim of this post is to give some explanations and guidance in relation to the scary IBIS Internal Assessment upload process. For more information about the visual arts upload please feel free to refer to my February post The Digital Upload: First Time For The New Course – What To Do! Please also ...

An exercise for introducing narrative complexity to new film students

This is an assignment which I've been using for a long time now, but it is thought provoking and attempts to position new film students thinking about how images alone can have huge narrative potential. Formerly I used it as an intro to semiotics (anchoring signs to more specific interpretations, enigma and action codes etc.) but this could equally be attached to other critical approaches to narrative such as Propp, Todorov or Campbell, and adapted directly to the hero/ine's journey or three ...

Django Unchained, representations and ‘positioning the audience’

The following is an exchange between one of my students and I, broadly made on the topic of psychoanalytical approaches to film analysis. Her contribution attempts to describe and explore the nature of representations in Django unchained (Tarantino US 2012), which my response attempts to take these ideas in to the realm of how audiences engage with these representation and what I believe to be the true intended meanings of the film makers, based on the experience of their oeuvre. Quentin ...

Moderators’ advice for your IA

Subject Reports The IB Diploma Psychology subject reports were published recently. They are where examiners and IB Diploma moderators give feedback on the quality of the May 2104 exams and the IAs.  This month we will take a look at what the moderators said about the IAs, both HL and SL.  Those of you taking your exams in May 2015 have probably now started your IA experimental study, and those of you taking your exams in November 2015 or May 2016 ...

More on film genre

My attention was drawn to this infographic this week following my post on the teacher's blog exploring some key generic repertoires in three classic Hollywood genres (Gangster movies westerns and musicals), looking at patterns evident in mise-en-scène, cinematography, narrative, editing and theme common to the classics of each genre. This infographic is a useful introduction to generic hybrids and sub-genres, and encourages further research into how a movie might be categorised in more than a single genre.

COMPARING OLD AND NEW: 14 DIFFERENCES continued

In my last post (August) I discussed seven differences between the current and the new course. Here are some thoughts about another seven differences  1. Fewer final pieces in the exhibition Page 55 of the new guide says Formal requirements of the task—SL   SL students submit 4–7 artworks. Formal requirements of the task—HL HL students submit 8–11 artworks. What does this mean? Well, in some ways the numbers reflect the weighting. The exhibition accounts for 40% of the whole rather than 60% in the old ...

Evolution of the American Gangster Movie – Part one

The 'Godfather' movies are a significant step in the evolution of the American gangster film, in that many of the repertoires of elements conform to the classic conventions but present them in interesting and innovative ways. As films they  (well at least GF 1 &2) stand above the genre, and seemed to revivify it and set an new agenda for all gangster films to follow that is at least until Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas of 1990. Unlike their antecedents from the 1930's the ...

Exploring gender representations in the independent study

This post is an attempt to explain how one can approach the subject of representations in reading movie narratives, and to be taken seriously in the independent study. My primary intention is to offer some weight to those of you who might have students interested in exploring gender representations. Far too many independent study about gender representations confine themselves to the unfairness or narrowness of stereotypes as perceived through plot device. When what they should do is to use the ...