Psychology in Film

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Spring 2017
Credits per quarter
Variable Credit Options Available

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Psychology is the study of human behavior, interaction, and mental processes. Film, in essence, is behavior projected onto a screen. An increased ability to analyze psychological components in films will enable students to enjoy and understand films on a deeper level. It will also give them the tools to see each new film as more than just a form of entertainment, but as source material for examples and models of every type of human behavior that can be portrayed. Film is a hugely popular medium and a multi-billion dollar industry because movies communicate to a wide audience. By analyzing the psychology behind films, students will understand how films communicate and the messages they convey.

In this program, psychological issues and theories will be studied through the process of film analysis. The program is divided into four areas of analysis: 1) using psychoanalysis to analyze film, 2) psychological science fiction in film, 3) the psychology of the Western film genre, and 4) the psychology of fantasy in film.

Each week, two different films will be viewed and analyzed. The perspectives of psychology and media studies will be taken in the interpretation of the films and in the analysis of how film reflects and shapes psychological themes. Topics that will be covered include: Freudian themes, Jungian Archetypes, mind control, psychic powers, memory and memory disorders, dreams and dream symbolism, the American frontier mythology and the archetype of the Western hero, and psychological symbols from mythology, fairytales, and fantasy literature, as represented in films. The work of various directors will be viewed, including Hal Ashby, John Ford, Spike Jones, Miloš Forman, Michel Gondry, George Stevens, Christopher Nolan, Mike Nichols, and Guillermo del Toro.

This program will be relevant for anyone interested in the ways that various psychological themes, issues and topics have been dealt with in film. Students will learn the process of film analysis – breaking down the elements of films and discussing the psychological issues they depict. Through this process, students will increase both their knowledge of psychological theory and of film-making technique. This program will impart a deeper understanding of how films create lasting and meaningful impressions on viewers through their portrayals of psychological issues. Classic works of great directors will be included as well as exemplars from independent and contemporary mainstream cinema.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: media studies and psychology.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers 25 - 49% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia