Lesson 6 Reading Assignment
The Language of Film


How to Read a Film

Chapter 3, The Language of Film: Signs and Syntax

We’ve already had a look at Chapter 3 as the reading assignment for Lesson 4. This time, please concentrate on these sections:

In addition, please read the various sections of the book referring to documentary and docudrama: pp. 96-97, 290-291, 294, 320-322, 356-358, and 492

Time Estimate

1 hour


As we noted earlier, Chapter 3 is the densest chapter of How to Read a Film. A word of warning: There’s a lot of jargon here, so don’t take it too seriously. Instead, try to understand the ideas behind the technical terms.

Please post your responses to the following questions on the class message board.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for new scenes that we could add to the "Bathtub/Shower Code" layout on pp. 180-183? (The more interesting, the better!)
  2. How about additions to the Roll code section on p. 208?
  3. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is about a photographer who’s immobilized (no tracking shots here!). The film cleverly plays with the concept of the window as a frame. (Note the illustration on p. 212—those are Cinemascope picture windows!) Can you think of other films that use the Window code interestingly or effectively?