Film as Literature: What It Is and Why You Should Take It

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Every February, students confront the stress and excitement of course selection. For rising seniors, next year brings a wider array of class options. One class that has high hopes of guaranteeing a fun and memorable final year is M-A’s newest English course: Film as Literature. 

Michael Duarte, the current AS English III teacher who is set to teach Film as Literature, said, “Film is just another way to tell a story. In films, you use other kinds of devices, like lighting, sound, music, and camera angles. All that helps tell a story, so it’s a different way of looking at art. Literature is art; film is art.” 

He continued, “I’m excited to see how students react to films they’ve probably never heard of or seen before; see their reactions to how they can also look at and analyze film the same way they do with literature; maybe even inspire them to do something in the film industry.”

While some assume that the class will primarily be watching movies, Duarte clarified, “While our primary text is film, this isn’t just a film-watching class. We will be reading articles about films and looking at a variety of short stories, novels, and plays.” He added, “Students will be writing critiques, reviews, essays, and their own screenplays, and maybe even create short films.” Duarte said, “My goal is to reach all angles of creativity by combining creative, analytical, and personal narratives with expository and persuasive writing.” 

He anticipates analyzing a diverse pool of films, from classic black-and-white movies to contemporary hits. On the structure of the class, he said, “I plan to separate each unit by genre, so we’ll watch horror, film noir, comedy, educational, coming of age, and much more. We are going to be looking at things racially, ethnically, culturally, gender identity-wise, … everything.” 

The class not only incorporates a unique and diverse curriculum but also covers all the skills you would learn in a typical English class. Duarte said, “Apart from the common core standards that include writing, analyzing, and discussing, I also want people to understand that you can respond to things in more ways than just writing an essay about it. We are not just analyzing, we are creating as well, because that’s a way to respond.”

He added, “I believe education is about having fun and learning at the same time so I’m hoping to do both with this class.” Film as Literature is the start of a unique class that brings a new passion to learning. Students will walk away looking at the world through a different lens: the lens of film.

Ada Cai is a senior at Menlo-Atherton and this is her first year in journalism. In her free time, she likes to binge TV shows and hang out with her friends. She hopes to write about timely events happening in our community and also lighthearted, fun stories about culture and entertainment.

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