Monday, December 4, 2006

Film Literacy For Kids

I just read an article by English writer, Anthony Horowitz, provided by New Statesman, about the state of film as it relates to younger movie goers. He is writing from a British standpoint, and is talking about British film, but he also addresses Hollywood's infiltration of theaters globally. He talks about how silly it is that bad Hollywood movies make big box office, but I think what he says about film literacy is particularly worth noting.

In particular:
It is strange that while we worry about literacy and the need to read, an entire generation is growing up in complete ignorance of a rich and varied part of its own cultural heritage. How many teens could name one film by David Lean, Lindsay Anderson, Ken Loach, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock or Michael Powell - or even explain, with any degree of accuracy, what their involvement with that film actually was?

Schools do not give credence to film literacy in the same way that they do to novels, poetry, theater, etc. Kids are not taught how to read films, how to extract cultural meaning from them, how to appreciate them.

I remember watching a few films during my K-12 school experience. They were usually used as a supplement, but never as the focus. I remember always looking forward to them. A class in which we watched a film was a good class. And they weren't good classes because we could zone out: I remember usually being glued to the screen. I paid much more attention to a film than to a lecture. If films are an effective teaching tool, then wouldn't it make sense to teach our kids how to read films? We put so much emphasis on the written word, but we don't teach our kids how to read images. Why is this?

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