This film clip above is the first nine minutes of "Mystery Train" (1989) by indie writer-director Jim Jarmusch. I recently wrote an analysis of this film's use of composition; let's use this segment as an exercise for extracting denotative elements from a communication object — in this case, a film — and ferreting out their connotations.
Participation! Watch the clip above, or a sizable chunk of it. (Nine minutes would be too large a slice for your Part 1's; but here you can at least have more to work with for practice.) Use the comments section below to:
— Focus on a small segment, and then write down a sequence of 5-6 denotative elements from the scene. Look for the action, the dialogue, the costumes, the settings, the framing of the shots, the movement of the camera, etc. (For film/video analysis, it really helps to include time stamps with your denotations!) Ask yourself: What's in the script here?
— Then discuss the corresponding and contextual connotations for each of those. Ask yourself: What are each of these conscious choices by the filmmaker meant to convey?
Below you can read/download an A-grade paper from a student in the course from a previous term.
Those of you who had questions about the formatting, this should make very clear how to set that up: text for the intro, then a two-column table for the denotative vs. connotative descriptions. (Never made a table or used columns in Word before? It's easy.)
Pay attention to how this student telescoped the denotative elements into connotative possibilities.
Remember: Part 1 of the project is due by 3 p.m. Jan. 21 emailed as a PDF to this address!
We'll talk next week about some strategies for reading effectively — and taking notes about what you read (very important to do!).
For now, check out these excellent tips for "How to Read in College."
Participation! Use the comments here to post helpful examples and tips from your reading process, things you've learned by experience thus far. Feel free to include screenshots of annotated pages, notes, etc.