About Movies 101

Motion pictures have their own special language that enables them to communicate action, ideas, and emotions. Each 1-hour virtual session will look closely at four basic linguistic tools that most films use. Due to the COVID-19 theater closure, we are now offering these classes online! There will also be scheduled Q&A discussions on Zoom with the instructor. Check back for dates! 

Each session is $15 members / $20 non-members

Henry Aldridge


Dr. Henry Aldridge is an Emeritus Professor of Film Studies at Eastern Michigan University, as well as an active volunteer at the Michigan Theater. He is the author of the Michigan Theater Book. 


Now available online

Mise-en-Scene is a term that refers to everything in the implied world of the film. This includes people, costumes, sets, props, lighting, some sound, color and the way these elements are viewed through the camera’s lenses as it moves about. We will look at various approaches to mise-en-scene including selections from Casablanca and Double Indemnity. After the lecture, we recommend you watch Casablanca.


Now available online

Editing is the process by which individual shots are joined together. We will explore several different ways that this unique cinematic device can be used including “continuity editing,” “parallel editing,” “analytical editing,” and “montage.” Our examples will be drawn from Casablanca, The Battleship Potemkin, Psycho, and Manhattan. After the lecture, we recommend you watch Sliding Doors.


Now Available online

Sound. In the beginning, movies only had sound in the form of musical accompaniment provided in the theater. Since then, recorded sound has become an indispensible part of movies. In this session, we will consider how music, speech, and sound effects can be used to add meaning to the images on the screen. Our examples will be drawn from Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Vertigo and The Passenger. After the lecture, we recommend you watch Singing in the Rain.

Narrative Structure

Now Available online

Narrative Structure. While we often expect the action of films to unfold in chronological order, there are many other possibilities. In our final session, we will look at various components of film narrative and how they can be manipulated to create anticipation, tension, and resolution. Our examples will be drawn from Casablanca, Bonnie & Clyde, L’Avventura and (500) Days of Summer. After the lecture, we recommend you watch Vertigo.

Movies 201 will start January 2021