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To what extent, does Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2003)—keeping in mind what you might know or learn about von Trier’s approach to filmmaking in advance of writing your text—uphold this idea? In what way does his filmmaking approach “render transient impressions and relationships which are denied to the stage” (in terms of the types of shots, blocking of actors (their positioning in relation to the camera, props, and other actors), etc).

(Lars von Trier, Dogville, 2003)
Film and Reading Responses

Prompt for your first Film Journal entry:

In his seminal publication Theory of Film, Siegfried Kracauer discusses storytelling in relation to cinema and theater. Significantly, he writes, “Film not only transcends human interaction but resembles the novel, modern or not, in that it tends to render transient impressions and relationships which are denied to the stage.” (219) To what extent, does Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2003)—keeping in mind what you might know or learn about von Trier’s approach to filmmaking in advance of writing your text—uphold this idea? In what way does his filmmaking approach “render transient impressions and relationships which are denied to the stage” (in terms of the types of shots, blocking of actors (their positioning in relation to the camera, props, and other actors), etc). Your journal entry should focus less on the film’s plot than on the way that Lars von Trier engages with (and diverges from) the conventions of theater.

Yesterday I mentioned Timothy Corrigan’s book on film writing in lecture. Please review the excerpts from the book (in TritonEd under “Resource Page”) before watching the film.

Additional guidelines for preparing to write your film responses

– Read all the Required Reading on the syllabus, especially the texts marked as directly related to films for “home viewing.”

– Take notes while watching the film. These should include general observations about the film, as well as thoughts that resonate with topics covered in lecture, section, and the assigned reading. Consider aspects of the film that are perplexing or surprising. You may need to watch segments of the film more than once.

– Before beginning to write, try to focus your attention onto a single idea (it does not have to be complex!). Then, discuss it in your response in relation to one or two specific scenes or sequences from the film, which best illustrate your point. Think about not only what occurs in the scene, but also how it was shot (close up, point of view), and how it was edited (rhythm, sound).

– Please make use of any relevant film terms. I placed a list of basic film terms in TritonEd under “Resource Page.” If you are unfamiliar with any of them, please look up their definitions. If you have trouble understanding them, feel free to contact your TA or visit me during office hours. Some of these terms will be elaborated upon throughout the quarter.

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