I teach a class called “Introduction to Fine Arts.” It’s a survey-type course, designed as the standard arts-appreciation component of a university’s core curriculum. In addition to critical theory, we cover painting, photography, sculpture, architecture, music, dance, drama, film, and TV/video all in one semester. When I inherited the course from the previous professor, the assignment for the unit on film asked students to watch and comment on any Oscar-winning movie. Because the Academy Awards can sometimes be based on political or sentimental motivations, rather than on purely artistic merit, I decided to change the requirement. Now students are asked to select a movie from among the top 25 films on the American Film Institute’s list known as “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies,” which was updated in 2007 from the original list created by the AFI in 1988 to celebrate one hundred years of film-making. While this list is far from perfect, I believe it more adequately presents a collection of films that were either ground-breaking in some way or exemplified the best of a particular genre or format.
Over the years, my students have responded very positively to this assignment, and I have enjoyed reading their thoughts and critiques concerning the films on the list. However, with the closing of Blockbuster and other movie-rental outlets, the proliferation of Redbox kiosks, and the increased dependence of many on streaming video services like Netflix, I discovered that many students had difficulty in locating some of the older films on the list. So last year I invested in ownership of all twenty-five movies in DVD format so that I could lend them to my students for this assignment. I already owned six of the movies on the list, and I purchased the remaining DVDs from Movies Unlimited, an online supplier with good prices and an enormous catalog.
After compiling my collection, I realized that I had not ever seen ten of these films, and there were several others that I had viewed so long ago that I could barely remember them. If I was going to ask my students to watch these movies, shouldn’t I be familiar with them all? That was the impetus for this new project. I plan to watch all 25 movies in descending order, starting this summer, and then write about each one. If I view one film a week, I should be finished with this plan in mid-November. But knowing that there will be some weekends filled with other activities, I hope to accomplish this goal by the end of 2012.
I established this blog with great intentions a few years ago, but I’ve let it slide recently. This project will, I hope, encourage me to keep it more current and to use it as per my original intention. Wish me luck!!