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Dr. Carole Carroll teaches Studies in Shakespeare to a class of students

An LCU Professor Perspective - The 89th Academy Awards and Film as an Art Form

The 89th Academy Awards made bigger news than usual after a mix-up during the penultimate announcement of Best Picture resulted in “La La Land” being mistakenly named as the Oscar-winner. The announcement was retracted as the “La La Land” producers gave their acceptance speeches, and “Moonlight” was named the real winner.

The awards show was full of entertaining jokes from host Jimmy Kimmel and tearful acceptance speeches from grateful artists.

Among the most notable, Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Viola Davis (“Fences”) won best supporting actor and actress, respectively, while Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Emma Stone (“La La Land”) took best actor and actress.

And, of course, “Moonlight” won Best Picture.

Aside from a few other incidents – “Moana” star Auli’i Cravalho getting hit in the head during her performance, and an image of the very-much-alive Jan Chapman being used during the In-Memoriam segment of the evening – and the discussion of who was best-dressed, the night, and the news, is about the celebration of art through cinema.

Dr. Carole Carroll dressed in costume for the annual writing carnivalLCU English professor Dr. Carole Carroll taught the Film and Literature class in the fall 2016. She enjoys the Oscar’s for the art, the “incredible film-making and incredible story-telling.” But she also believes film is about more than just art.

“Used to, people would say you can know everything about someone from their playlist. Now I think it’s telling what movies they keep on their phone.” Carroll has three on her list: “Troy,” “Gladiator,” and “Miss Congeniality.”

“They’re entertaining, but have important messages; they’re well-done, well-shot. They’re what a film should be: entertaining, historically accurate, with authenticity, and appeal to us as humans – who we are, our relationships to other people, and how we act. I think those three have all of that,” she said.

Carroll started using film in teaching to reach a generation of students who are visually motivated – they express themselves through “a media medium.” By showing film clips and studying cinema, she finds that some students can relate to a text in a way they never would have otherwise.

She enjoys combining film with history or literature as an educational means. For example, for a modern audience, some of Shakespeare’s humor and meaning is better grasped through a visual performance rather than through textual interpretation. Film can be used as a tool to amplify a student’s understanding of text or film.

“Film is an interpretation. Every representation of a written text is an interpretation. And when you get a chance to compare those, you exercise critical thinking skills,” Carroll said.

During her Film and Literature class, her students studied vampires in one unit, how the portrayals in film and literature evolved from “Dracula” to “Twilight” – what changed and what threads stayed true. The trends reflect changes and constants in society as well.

“Now, people have taken film and made it their own form of expression, with YouTube vlogs and Facebook live,” Carroll explained. “It’s unbelievable to see people making personalized movies – the representation of movement on a screen. They can imprint themselves in a film medium to be sent out to others. “

Video is a way for society to reach out that adds to the whole of communication. Additionally, film is becoming increasingly more accessible, with cheap rental options like Redbox available at most gas stations and streaming options like Netflix and Hulu available from home.

“It’s more than art. It needs to be played with. For this generation, needs to be part of who they are, how they express themselves, define themselves, and define other people. I like film as an extension of art, and an extension of text, but also as a means to create a personal, relatable space.”