Learning New Ways to See

Currently, I’m taking my first Cinema Studies course, recommended by a friend who had taken the class two times already. That’s because each semester the course focuses on a different director. So, over the past semester, I’ve taken a deep dive into the (quirky) world of Wes Anderson, having now seen all of his movies in class. We watch the movies in chronological order from week-to-week, allowing the class to witness and discuss the director’s progression and development of style. 

Before taking this class, I loved watching movies but mainly out of enjoyment of characters and stories than aesthetics. However, this class has definitely inspired a completely different movie-watching experience, drawing my attention to aspects like the variety of shots, shot composition, and strategic use of music in a film. I also feel more confident in my ability to develop opinions and interpretations on movies, narratives, and acting. 

For the final class project, everybody in the small class selected a scene in a Wes Anderson film and modified it in some way. Everyone created a script and storyboard for their particular vision and pitched it to the class. The class was split into three groups of 5-6 people, and each group picked a pitch from a different student to bring to life. So, today, I spent around three hours freezing outside and garnering stares around campus as my group filmed our final project scene, as we attempted to recreate a style reminiscent of Wes Anderson. 

My class-picking strategy at Penn is simply to find the best classes offered, regardless of the subject matter. These classes have helped me to develop an interdisciplinary breadth of knowledge and to create associations between diverse classes. For example, some philosophers discussed in the context of my Cinema Studies class are the same ones that I have studied in the past in relation to Asian-American history and literature. This Cinema Studies course, like many other amazing classes I’ve taken at Penn, has altered my perspective and refined my attention to detail in ways that I believe will stick with me for the rest of my life.