If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Film & Cinema

Different Kinds of Theatres (spelled 'theater' in America)

The first movie theatres had one large screen, and an orchestra pit below - the movies were silent. They were sometimes called film or movie palaces. Most modern cinemas are now called multiplexes. This just means they have several theatre halls. If a theatre has over 20 different screens, it's called a megaplex. In some cities there are small arthouse theatres that show independent, alternative, and classic films. My favourite is the Cable Car in Providence, RI. They have couches instead of regular theatre seats, and a great little café.

Most theatres play films at night, when people have finished work, and students have finished with school for the day. Showtimes are typically at 5PM, 7PM, and the late show at 9 or 10PM. Some theatres offer a matinée, meaning an early afternoon showing of the film. It's sometimes called a rainy day matinée, the idea being it only makes sense to see a film that early if the weather is poor and there's nothing else to do.

In the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, drive-in movie theatres were very popular in America.

You'd drive into a parking lot, choose a spot, put a speaker into your car window,

and watch the film from your car. This was very popular with teens and young adults who wanted a public/private place to kiss without getting in trouble with parents. People who wanted to see a free movie could hide in the trunk. Drive-ins usually showed a double feature every night, meaning two films at one price. For some reason, this form of theatre grew less and less popular, with many of them closing. Now there are about one per state in America.

Most movie theatres sell drinks, candy, popcorn, and snacks, like hot dogs, nachos, and pizza. The food is usually very old and unhealthy - the popcorn will be fresh, but the "butter topping" isn't really butter. The prices are very high. They won't let you bring your own food, unless you hide it. If you bring a backpack with food, they usually won't check it. ;)

Theatre Etiquette

When watching a film, one should remain quiet. Rude behaviours include:
1. Talking loudly to friends around you, constantly commenting on the actors, how they look, etc.
2. Answering your cellphone. You should either turn it off or leave it on silent. If you get an important call, leave the theatre to answer it.
3. Loud, excessive laughter at every little joke, like a braying donkey.
4. Some mothers bring their babies to a film, who might start crying from any sudden noises. It's probably not good for a baby to be exposed to the loud and frightening sounds of a film.

Most movie theatres have begun to play their films really loudly, so viewers don't notice these problems - all the more reason not to bring your baby to see Excorsist or Mission Impossible 15.


Piracy involves illegal copy and sale of any copyrighted work - a book, music album, or film. A copyright means that the person who creates the work owns it. People often pirate films by sneaking videocameras into theatres. They record the film and then show it on the internet - sometimes for free, and sometimes for money. The quality of these films is poor. If you're caught, you'll get in trouble.

Film Genres

Everyone knows the different film genres, but what's important to say is why you like or don't like certain genres. So, write out a little list. Which of these genres do you like or not like? And why? Do you have any favorite films in each category?

Romantic Comedy
Drama (Historical Drama/Crime)
Action (Adventure/Crime/Spy/Suspense) (Suspense is usually listed separately, and fits somewhere between action and horror. But really, any good action movie should have suspense.)
Sci Fi (pronounced 'saj faj', for science fiction)
Fantasy (knights and dragons)
Children's Films
Alternative/Avant Guarde/Art House/Cult

Film Ratings

Film ratings are different in every country. But, since America is a leader in making and viewing films, most films are written to fit into the American ratings system (from Wikipedia):

G - General Audiences – All Ages Admitted. There is no content that would be objectionable to most parents and guardians. These films may not contain rude language and no serious cursing. As with violence it must be mild and minimal, if any, without any blood or gore.

PG - Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children. These films are generally inappropriate for young children and may contain milder swear words, crude or suggestive humor, short and infrequent horror moments and/or mild violence.

PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13. These films may contain sex references, up to four uses of explicit language, drug innuendo, strong crude/suggestive humor, mature/political themes, moderately long horror moments, blood,and/or moderate action violence.

R - Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent Or Adult Guardian. These R rated films contains some adult material and parents are urged to learn more about these motion pictures before taking their young children to watch them. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R rated films unaccompanied by an adult. These films may contain mild or implied sex scenes, prolonged nudity, strong violence often with blood and gore, strong horror scenes and explicit/illegal/prolonged drug use.

NC-17 - No One 17 and Under Admitted. These films may contain strong graphic violence with a very large amount of blood and gore, sex scenes, explicit content, rape or sexual assault, depraved, aberrational behavior, sexual nudity, or any other elements which that are not suitable for children and strictly prohibited. Many theater will not play NC-17 titles and some newspapers and magazines will not run ads for these films.

X - for pornography.

A funny thing about film ratings is how standards change over time. For instance, an older film like Jaws was rated PG-13, even though several people were eaten by sharks. Decades later, The Firm was rated R, even though it had little nudity, swearing, or violence.

Sometimes you can find an unrated version of a film on DVD or video. Sometimes it's called the director's cut. All this means is this is the original version of the film before it was edited by anyone else - either to change the rating or to shorten the length of the film.

In the United Kingdom, they have a similar system:

U - Universal, suitable for all.

PG - Parental Guidance, General viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.

12 - Recommended for 12 years and older. Anybody under 12 may see it, as long as a parent or guardian says they can. Nobody younger than 12 may rent or buy a '12' rated video.

12A - Recommended for 12 years and older. People under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult.

15 - Suitable only for 15 years and older. Nobody younger than 15 may see a '15' film in a cinema, or rent or buy a '15' rated video.

18 - Suitable only for adults. Nobody younger than 18 may see an '18' film in a cinema, or rent or buy an '18' rated video These films may contain extreme gore/violence and/or sexually explicit content.

In the United Kingdom, R might mean restricted or rejected, banning it from all movie theatres.

Famous Films and Actors

There are countless famous celebrities in the film industry. Many are so famous, that if you haven't heard of them, people will ask,

"Where have you been living? Under a rock?"

And, of course, that's not fair. For most of your young life, you've been living here:

You're young, it's normal. But, you're also growing up, so it's good to learn some of these famous people. For a list of important and extremely talented actors and directors, click here.

Film Awards

The Academy Awards: also known as Oscars (no one really knows why), are the oldest and most prestigious (prestížny) awards given for film, starting in 1929. Oscars are given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), which consists of almot 6,000 people, 22% being actors. No one knows who these people are, it's kept secret.

An Oscar

Awards are given for best film, actor, director, special effects, music, costumes, etc. There are also awards for best documentary, short film, and foreign film. here's something funny - when the winner of an Oscar dies, the family can't sell the statue. They can keep it or give it back to AMPAS, but they're not allowed to sell it. Some statues have sold for over $860,000!

Golden Globes: are similar to the Oscars, but are awarded for both film and television. The Golden Globes started in 1944 and are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). This is an organization of about 90 journalists, in 50 different countries, who write about entertainment.

Golden Globe

Screen Actor's Guild Awards: or SAG's, are a new award, starting in 1995. Representing over 160,000 actors and performers, every year they randomly (náhodné) select 2,100 of them to nominate best films, TV shows, actors, etc. Then the full 160,000 members can vote for the best ones, making it the most democratic awards process.


BAFTA's: are the main film and TV award in Britain. Starting in 1947, they're given by the British Academy of Film & Telivision Arts, which has around 6,000 members.


Emmies: are awards given only for television shows. It started in 1949.

an Emmy

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