You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


How to View and Appreciate Great Movies

Unpack the Components that Make Movies "Great" with a Professional Filmmaker.
How to View and Appreciate Great Movies is rated 3.7 out of 5 by 82.
  • y_2024, m_7, d_11, h_5
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_7, tr_75
  • loc_en_CA, sid_7000, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 5.09ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! I find this course interesting, well-articulated and academic presentation on Filmmaking. As a film buff, I do watch a lot of films, enjoy them, discuss with friends and family. There's are certain nuances I learned in the course, which I have not aware. Thanks for the course, and professor is pretty easy-going and knowledgeable.
Date published: 2024-03-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from No video about video! Count me in the group that was totally displeased with a course about video, which has not one clip of video to help illustrate what the instructor is discussing. A group of us watched the entire course and were constantly frustrated by the lack of obvious examples. I'm sure this very good teacher has plenty of clips in his university course. Too bad we couldn't see them.
Date published: 2023-10-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I liked this course and learned a lot. The course did suffer from the lack of clips. Without them there's a dissatisfaction at not seeing the real thing, and a feeling of being lost in the verbiage, but I do understand that copyright concerns make it impossible to include clips in the course. There's a real difference between when the course includes even a frame from a film and when it relies on a computer graphic or words along. It's not a problem with some lectures, but the episode on production design really suffered from the lack of visual content. I understand the frustration users may have felt about the professor telling us how important seeing is when he isn't showing us anything. Still, the course is a good starting point for an understanding of how movies work. But did Eric Williams really have to end every lecture with a quote from "the late, great Roger Ebert?" Not everybody loves Ebert, and nobody needs to hear from him in every lecture. It made Eric Williams sound like a servile yokel. It made me lose respect for him and want to throw things at my computer.
Date published: 2023-04-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Sad Miss Great teacher, knows his stuff, BUT this is a course about a visual medium and there is almost no visual content. He TELLS about great scenes but it's not worthwhile. Not the teacher's fault. It's a VISUAL subject. We expect that obtaining rights, easy for a college class, is expensive for a commercial venture. In this case those rights are critical. Please don't do this kind of thing again.
Date published: 2022-11-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Like learning to play the piano by reading about i I had watched a YouTube video about movement in Kurosawa movies by Every Frame a Painter, a good film critic. I expected that this course would be something like that, using visuals and contrasts to make the point. But no, just words and words and words. Luckily did not buy the course but borrowed it from the Ann Arbor Public Library.
Date published: 2022-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly excellent! I watched this entire series with some good friends over many weeks and we all agree it is the best of all of the Great Courses we have watched. Not only did we learn about the many aspect of film making, but we also learned lessons that will help us in reading literature, such as analyzing character development and motivation. Other reviewers have complained about the lack of actual film clips, but that didn't bother us and in fact encouraged us to gather together to watch several of the films he mentioned in class. The production values were excellent and so superior to the simple lectures at the podium of so many of the other courses we've watched. I will go back and watch several of these classes (e.g. Sound Design) again. The series was great!
Date published: 2021-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great presentation I was immediately attracted to this course to supplement a Uni course I’m doing in Film and History and I’m so pleased I went ahead and purchased it. I haven’t completed all the lectures yet, but the ones I have seen have been very helpful and given me some great leads for my course. I like the presenter’s style and the guidebook is well-written.
Date published: 2021-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent survey course in film appreciation I found this to be an excellent introductory film appreciation course. I was disappointed by two things. As others have noted, there are no audio or video clips from actual movies. Also, this course is much more enjoyable if you've seen some of the films that the instructor references time, and time, and time again. The Godfather and Apocalypse Now are two of the most heavily-referenced films. I was able to follow along as well as I did not because I've seen either The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, but rather because I came of age in the early 1990s and I've seen a fairly good range of films from the 1990s. The reason that I'm giving this course 5 stars is to offset the low reviews. Also, the instructor was extraordinarily engaging and knowledgeable, which I feel well made up for the course's shortcomings. The course book (PDF) is also quite nice. Thank you, and have a good day.
Date published: 2021-05-27
  • y_2024, m_7, d_11, h_5
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_7, tr_75
  • loc_en_CA, sid_7000, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 4.93ms


Gain a new set of creative and analytical tools to bring with you to the movies, enhancing your enjoyment and viewing experience for any film.


Eric R. Williams

This digital transformation, this entertainment of tomorrow—it’s really just an opportunity for us as human beings to get to know ourselves better.


Ohio University

Eric R. Williams is a Professor of New Media Storytelling and Emerging Technologies at Ohio University, where he oversees the cinematic virtual reality arm of the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. He has written for American Movie Classics, Universal Studios, and Fox Interactive and has received the Best New Screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America, East. He has also written five books and three podcast series on storytelling in film, television, and new media.

By This Professor

How to View and Appreciate Great Movies
Imagining Tomorrow’s Entertainment
How to View and Appreciate Great Movies


The Art of the Silver Screen

01: The Art of the Silver Screen

Professor Williams introduces his passion for film by explaining exactly what experience he wants to capture—what makes movies magic for him. He provides a brief history of movies and foreshadows elements of the course that he will be digging deeper into including music, framing, and the three-act structure, tying the whole thing together by familiarizing you with what he considers one of the most important movie elements: tension.

34 min
We All Need Another Hero: Universal Stories

02: We All Need Another Hero: Universal Stories

Professor Williams introduces you to the story of a young hero, living a boring life on a small farm. Through extreme circumstances, the hero is whisked off on a journey through new lands full of strange and colorful characters, and introduced to a dangerous foe. The hero rises to various challenges, finds friends, and ultimate defeats the bad guy in a neat, happy ending. This is Professor Williams’s favorite movie. Is it Star Wars? Is it The Wizard of Oz? Uncover the foundation of Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” and explore how this plot device shows up in many seemingly unrelated films and genres.

31 min
Movie Genre: It’s Not What You Think

03: Movie Genre: It’s Not What You Think

Begin this lecture with a challenge: How many film genres are there? Professor Williams spends this lecture introducing you to the definitive list of genres based on what happens in the film and how the movie makes you feel, not an arbitrary and generalized category. Diving deeply into the meanings and examples of movie genres can help you better define what you look for and love. As for the actual number of film genres Professor Williams has established? You’ll have to watch the lecture to find out the answer.

32 min
Genre Layers and Audience Expectations

04: Genre Layers and Audience Expectations

Become familiar with three simple variations of film genre: super genre, macrogenres, and microgenres. Professor Williams will further break down each by filtering in three important variables: atmosphere, character, and story. He’ll discern the difference between a heist film and an escape film, explain how the characters with whom your sympathies lay often define the genre you are viewing, and show how one movie can encapsulate multiple macro- and microgenres, with each additional label changing your expectations.

33 min
Popcorn Can Wait: Story Shape and Tension

05: Popcorn Can Wait: Story Shape and Tension

Professor Williams introduces the relationship between story shape and story rhythm. By presenting the shape for several genres—and you may be surprised to see he presents actual, recognizable shapes—you start to see the rhythm for your story and rhythms are essentially a pattern. To keep us coming back, sometimes filmmakers break the rhythm, while at other times they present the same pattern out of order. Characters, dialogue, and plot all play a part. But ultimately, building tension is the thing that keeps us in our seats and coming back.

33 min
Themes on Screen

06: Themes on Screen

Examine the concept of theme through a spectrum of approaches ranging from traditional filmmakers who believe that their role is to be part educator, philosopher, or theologian and the non-traditional filmmakers who often present messy and contradictory situations or characters without moralizing, lecturing, or judging. Professor Williams then layers on the method of storytelling chosen to present the movie theme—active vs. didactic vs. both, creating a matrix upon which he breaks down and plots several popular movies to help illustrate what the theme is and to determine when and how the theme will make its way into the film.

32 min
Paradigm Shift: Citizen Kane and Casablanca

07: Paradigm Shift: Citizen Kane and Casablanca

Looking at two iconic films that make up the yin and yang of filmmaking—Casablanca and Citizen Kane—Professor Williams looks at the historical context, the important elements, and the lasting influence these films have made on every component of movie making over the last 75 years. As Professor Williams breaks down Casablanca, you’ll better understand the three factors that made this movie an instant classic, suitable for repeat viewing: the characters, the theme, and the ending. With Citizen Kane, he’ll introduce you to seven groundbreaking film techniques that changed movies forever.

32 min
The Language of Visual Storytelling

08: The Language of Visual Storytelling

Learn how to look at film as you might study a painting. Professor Williams opens by explaining how visual literacy is based upon at least four central factors: color, space, line, and shapes. He then delves into the distinct camera moves and how each pan, zoom, and dolly brings you a different view and impression of what you’re seeing. Using classically, beautifully shot movies such as Blow Up, American Beauty, Jaws, and others, you’ll examine framing and filming constructs such as the “rule of thirds” and point of interest.

32 min
Building Screen Space: Blocking and Framing

09: Building Screen Space: Blocking and Framing

On a basic level, blocking is the way that characters interact in a space. Framing is the way in which the blocking is captured by a camera. It seems foolproof, so it’s hard to believe what a subconscious impact it can have when done well. Professor Williams explains how both framing and blocking can be broken down into the elements of lines and shape and scale. Using a plethora of examples including The Wizard of Oz, The Manchurian Candidate, Good Will Hunting, and others, you’ll explore what sorts of messages good blocking and framing can send.

32 min
The Cutting Room Floor: Powerful Editing

10: The Cutting Room Floor: Powerful Editing

What happens in an editing booth is a mystery to many of us. Professor Williams illuminates this complex and vital process, introducing the three stages of editing and delving into how an editor removes, inserts, and organizes hours and hours of footage into a comprehensive, visually literate film that resonates with the audience. Looking at movies including Roshomon, Slumdog Millionaire, The Godfather II, Reservoir Dogs, and more, you’ll explore examples of how editing can visually manipulate us, while setting the tone, pace, and thematic intention of the movie.

33 min
Sound Design and Acoustic Illusion

11: Sound Design and Acoustic Illusion

Professor Williams introduces you to the four approaches to film sound, provides eye-opening (or perhaps “ear-opening”) insights into where the sound made a scene memorable in films such as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and The Hurt Locker, and how tuning us into what our character hears provides us with more than just background noise.

35 min
Setting the Scene: Masterful Set Design

12: Setting the Scene: Masterful Set Design

Dive into Apollo 13, The Shining, Room, Clockwork Orange, and more, to discover how props and set design can set a story up, introduce the characters, and provide clues about what to expect before the first line of dialogue has been spoken. Professor Williams demonstrates how the evolution or degradation of the set and props can often act as a mirror to the character’s mental state.

34 min
Special Effects in the 20th Century

13: Special Effects in the 20th Century

In the first of two lectures focused on the gamut of special effects from puppets to AI, you’ll learn the history and the science behind the magic we see and believe. Professor Williams unpacks the two types of special effects, complete with plenty of examples, and teases what two movies he believes are among the greatest special effects movies of all time.

32 min
Special Effects in the 21st Century

14: Special Effects in the 21st Century

You’ll go behind the scenes to discover the different ways stars interact with characters who don’t exist and the details that need to be captured—such as the correct angle of a non-existent sun reflection—when nothing you are filming is real. Plus, Professor Williams reveals his two picks for greatest special effects movie, and we’re pretty sure you’ll be surprised when you hear them.

35 min
Scoring the Story: Music in Film

15: Scoring the Story: Music in Film

Music tells a story and in film, it serves to continue or enhance the story you are watching via what you are hearing. Whether diegetic or non-diegetic, Professor Williams demonstrates how music becomes a motif or a leitmotif, acting as a guide for our subconscious attention, escorting us from scene to scene, or carrying us across continents, providing emotional cues and setting the stage for what to expect. Using examples from Jaws, Rocky, Star Wars and more, he demonstrates how just like with every other facet of moviemaking, filmmakers can use a score to adhere to—or subvert—your expectations.

35 min
Color and Light: Elements of Atmosphere

16: Color and Light: Elements of Atmosphere

Superficially, color and light add to a film’s aesthetic qualities, but Professor Williams will show you color and light can be used to tell a deeper story—emotionally and intellectually. Looking at a variety of films that make creative use of color and light, including Do The Right Thing, The Life of Pi, The Martian, and Schindler’s List, you’ll become familiar with a foundation of 12 hues, six color schemes, four characteristics of light, and three ways to use light—as well as what each means and how various combinations can alter how the audience sees the movie (literally and figuratively).

32 min
Knowing Characters from the Inside Out

17: Knowing Characters from the Inside Out

Professor Williams introduces the use of masks: public, private, and personal. He demonstrates that as characters pull each one off, we get to know them (and connect with them) better. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Imitation Game provide contrasting studies in the way the masks are used to reveal characters, and more importantly, to help you discern their motivation—What a character wants and what the character is willing to do to get it. Once the motivation is clear, the complexities of the character can be as well.

33 min
Knowing Characters from the Outside In

18: Knowing Characters from the Outside In

Professor Williams challenges you to read the screenplay of a movie you haven’t seen yet as if you were a detective, gleaning what you can about the plot, characters, and relationships simply from the word choices. Through a reading of Lean on Me, Professor Williams introduces you to the things you can learn about a character from what he or she says and what he or she portrays—or doesn’t say.

31 min
Secondary Characters and Supporting Actors

19: Secondary Characters and Supporting Actors

Thelma and Louise, The Godfather, and Barton Fink provide the backdrop for an expansive consideration of how supporting roles are used to influence our opinion of the protagonist. Professor Williams explores the idea that by pushing, reacting, and reflecting, the secondary characters define motive and reveal what the main characters are not. They represent the hearts and souls of our main characters.

33 min
Star Power: Lead Actors and Their Roles

20: Star Power: Lead Actors and Their Roles

Professor Williams acknowledges he can’t tell you how an actor does what he or she does, but through this lecture he helps you appreciate the nuance that goes into acting as he breaks down the role of an actor. As you travel through Psycho, Get Out, The Thin Red Line, Rounders, and others, you discover what actors do (or should do) to prepare for roles and the pressure to portray believability.

30 min
Character Relationships and Audience Empathy

21: Character Relationships and Audience Empathy

How relationships work is complex enough in reality. Professor Williams uses Precious and The Piano, and sprinkles in theories from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, to illustrate how relationships are established, how the relationships work, and how they create tension in film. Examining established archetypes and character types, Professor Williams shows you how easy it is to make movies predictable and how objective and intention can help subvert expectations.

33 min
Pathways to Great Antagonists

22: Pathways to Great Antagonists

Discover how a great villain is created and that a villain and an antagonist are not the same. Professor Williams demonstrates how all great villains are a distorted reflection of the hero, through movies including The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, The Silence of the Lambs, and Rocky. He unpacks why the antagonist may not always be bad, but must be present. Additionally, you’ll explore the four thematic groupings (pathways) and how the protagonist and antagonist are utilized in each.

36 min
Point of View in Script and on Screen

23: Point of View in Script and on Screen

As the lens through which the audience views the story, the point of view a movie takes can truly enhance your appreciation for how stories in movies can be told. Professor Williams reveals the decision trees that come with crafting the point of view, starting with three central questions. Using Annie Hall, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Sherlock Holmes, No Country for Old Men, and more, you get a handle on how to decipher the POV and the reason behind it, adding a whole new dimension to your enjoyment of the story.

34 min
Filmmaker’s Voice and Audience Choice

24: Filmmaker’s Voice and Audience Choice

After breaking down the filmmaker’s voice into six central parts, Professor Williams demonstrates how the audience itself—specifically our expectations—can play a key role in voice. Looking at films such as Anomolisa, The Artist, When Harry Met Sally, and others, you’ll see why it is what the filmmaker chooses to say with their voice that is important. Professor Williams also provides a list of five ways audiences can be made uncomfortable, reveals what a movie can tell you about itself in the first 10 minutes, and introduces three movies you’ve probably never heard of, but shouldn’t miss.

40 min