How to Read a Film
Course Syllabus


Going to the movies (or watching them at home) is a major part of our lives, so of course we want to understand all of the components that go into creating films, and be able to discuss and analyze them with our friends. To do that, we need to understand how films "talk" to us—we need to understand how to "read" a film.

"How to Read a Film" is an exciting, fast-paced course that will show you exactly what’s behind the "movie magic" that you hear so much about. Here, you'll discover why Welles, Hitchcock, Kubrick, and many others are considered great directors. You’ll study the ever-changing world of movie technology, and witness the effect of its evolution on the big screen. Most importantly, you’ll explore how films work to make us feel and think.

You will need approximately three hours per lesson to complete the class activities.


This is a course in the basics of filmmaking. If watching and talking about movies sounds like your idea of a good time, then this is the course for you.


None, but it helps to have an avid interest in movies and a strong desire to learn what is involved in their creation.


After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

Required Materials

Primary Book

How to Read a Film: Movies, Media, Multimedia
Monaco, James

Course Supplies

Films You'll Be Watching in Class

The following is a list of the films that you’ll be watching as a part of your class activities. It’s provided here for you in case you need to make arrangements ahead of time to get copies of any of them.

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Film as an Art

Lesson 2: The Technology of Filmmaking

Lesson 3: On the Set

Lesson 4: The Moving Image

Lesson 5: Sound and Music

Lesson 6: The Language of Film

Lesson 7: Off the Set

Lesson 8: Goin’ Hollywood: The Industry and You