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Summary

What makes a movie “great”? Was it a particularly well-acted scene? The dramatic lighting? The emotion of the music? The tension that has built up? A powerful choice of words? The answer is, simply, yes.

Sit down with renowned professional filmmaker, author, and award-winning professor Eric R. Williams to unpack the elements of more than 250 “great” movies - some well-known, others less so - including Casablanca, Jaws, The Godfather, Star Wars, Rocky, Do The Right Thing, The Wizard of Oz, and more in order to gain insights and secrets that will change the way you view films. You’ll discover how from the moment you sit down, great filmmakers control every sensation the movie experience evokes: tremors or tears, goosebumps or giggles, and why it is that we invite them to do this. You’ll also uncover the tricks used to help us suspend our disbelief, let go of our cynicism, and buy into a story using sounds, scores, lighting, color, special effects, and more. You’ll discover how even these seemingly small details can greatly enhance or detract from the theme, atmosphere, and plot. 

Professor Williams often refers to filmmaking as a magic show. And once you pull back the curtain to see the creative process from the filmmaker’s point of view, the magic show can never be the same again. But understanding the intent of each aspect of moviemaking - from lighting to language, color to characters, stars to scores - arms you with new set of creative and analytical tools with which to bring to the theater or to revisit your old favorites. These insights will strengthen your love and appreciation for what’s unfolding before your eyes.

Roger Ebert once said, “Every great film should seem new every time you see it” and that’s exactly what How to View and Appreciate Great Movies ensures.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about How to View and Appreciate Great Movies

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Outstanding course!

I thoroughly enjoyed this course! It is packed full of fascinating and thought-provoking facts and movie insights about film production, screenwriting and sound design.
Encourages further study into the subject of 'cinematic literacy'.

4 people found this helpful

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How to save cash on a film studies course

If you've ever wondered what it's like to study film, this is like the handbook version of year 1. If you were to go to the introductory lecture of each topic, this is what you'd get. If that's what you're after, then great.

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high expectations.. old school America centric

I had high expectations for the subject as I enjoy movies and World movies however although the delivery is quite punchy I was mainly uninterested in his multiple references to too old old films like The Wizard of Oz The Godfather mainly male orientated movies like Raging Bull gangster movies bit of Spielberg America centric movies not films I never want to watch again
it's a shame that his material is so outdated but as someone said at least it is a grounding in a year 1 media studies course which I never took.
there is some more constructive information on the voice and point of view near the end. I much preferred the Egyptians great courses and I'm currently enjoying the great courses entitled writing great fiction which seems practical as well as thought provoking

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Very funny and didactic.

I love The Great Courses, and this is the course that I have enjoyed the most. It has taken me a year to complete it, as I have been watching most of the films. Eric accomplish what he promises at the beginning of the lectures, you change the way you see movies. Now I enjoy them at another deeper level. Thank you.

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  • ML
  • 16-04-21

Excellent course

Enjoyable and well constructed.

Minor points:
-some analogies refer to American culture, which may not be known to non-US listeners.
- there are long pauses sometimes and I was wondering whether something had gone wrong.

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  • Greg Bensch
  • 18-01-21

very informative

Really found it enjoyable.
Built my appreciation for the cinema.
The "No Country for Old Men" theory is brilliant.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Tufaro
  • 22-04-22

I need to watch more movies

I wish I could have known every movie he referenced, I guess I can’t quite refer to myself as a movie buff, until I see all these movies.

1 person found this helpful

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  • William
  • 13-08-22

A good introduction

This was one of Audible’s freebies and I took it. I’m not really a movie buff, but I’m glad that I listened to this course. It helped me understand movies a lot better and gave me a few titles that I’d like to find and see. And, this one does include a PDF with photos, charts, colors, etc., as well as a summary of the lectures. 

Some of the topics are very similar to what you would get in a course teaching you to appreciate great literature. There is a lecture on the universal story types that almost all great stories and movies fall into. There is a discussion of genre, how the author/filmmaker uses and sometimes breaks audience expectations, the use of tension, how to let people get to know a character by choosing what details to reveal instead of just describing them, etc. Then there are lectures dealing with visual cues that are unique to movies, though some may still be common to other visual arts, such as how to frame a shot, camera angle, whether the camera is stationary or moves with the subject, etc. There are two chapters on special effects. 

And, it’s all illustrated with tons of examples, most of which are movies that I’ve never seen, but I didn’t have to because the professor’s descriptions were so clear and the PDF was there to back it all up. Maybe it would have been better with some actual clips, but I’m not sure that, in most cases, they would have been any improvement over the still shots that he gave us. And, Professor Williams was engaging and interesting. There were some long pauses but it never got boring. 

Yes, I have to say, I enjoyed it and for someone who almost never watches TV and has never really been one to go out and see movies, that’s probably a pretty good complement.

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  • Anthony Sanchez
  • 31-07-22

Very helpful, but…

There really are other movie experts to quote besides Roger Ebert. After a dozen of his “Finally I’d like to quote…” it got rather tiresome. That was especially true when the Ebert quote was sometimes not at all insightful. But that’s a very minor criticism. Overall, a worth while listen.