A Movie Dissected


by Kyle Hickman
@kyle_a_hickman

Last night, I was able to catch one of many much anticipated films that will be released this summer. The film was Now You See Me, an in-depth look into four magicians who elaborate illusions to weave a tale of deception, theft, and revenge. Like most feature films, I did not just sit back and absorb the "entertainment" (disclaimer: I am in no way passing judgment on anyone who enjoys movies for that purpose). From the opening credits, I found myself analyzing every move that the characters made to hopefully predict the eventual outcome. Of course, my first premonitions were completely incorrect and ultimately unjustified. Yet, when it came to the end of the film, I understood perfectly the reasoning and symbolism behind how the scene was staged. Without spoiling the movie for those who have not seen it, the final scene essentially revolves around an analogy of a Masterlock and key. I looked on as one of the main characters compared their current situation (or crossroads) to the lock, while another closed the lock and threw the key into the river below. Again, without spoiling the plot, the key itself is a symbol of something that occurred early in the plot of the film. Plus, the backdrop of the final scene was a wide view of Paris, which also had an underlying purpose and meaning that was tied to the narrative of the film.

As I looked on, continuing to analyze the film and its many intricacies, something transformative clicked in my brain: the way I was evaluating the film was 100% a result of a single class that I took during my undergraduate years at Lycoming College! In a sort of "Lollipop Moment" (see Drew Dudley), I want to take a moment to commemorate a professor who I can credit with the accomplishment of teaching me the detailed process of breaking down a film, scene by scene, unlocking its craft and its symbolism. 

Dr. Wild - A Master of his Craft

If you walked onto the Lycoming College campus today uttering the name of Dr. Fred Wild, most students would probably start to complain, shutter or give you a confused look. No one else at the institution is more notorious for difficult courses, harsh grading, and detailed assignments like Dr. Wild. Anyone who was in the Communication and Media Studies major (among other majors) worked with Dr. Wild pretty extensively since he taught a range of film and communication courses. Personally, I enrolled in only one of his courses during my time at Lyco. That course was Theater 212I: Multiculturalism in Film. Let me be very explicit here: this course, although not a 300 or 400 level class, was one of the most difficult courses that I took as an undergraduate. Rarely did students pull A's in his course; if you were lucky enough to get an A on a major assignment or paper, it was considered a major accomplishment. Fortunately, with my analysis of The Chosen, I made one of those rare A's on a paper, which to this day will always be one of my greatest accomplishments as an undergraduate (still finished with only a B+ in the class). Although Dr. Wild frustrated many, many students with his abnormally high expectations on assignments, those students ALWAYS had very good things to say about him. Even amidst all of the pain and agony they received in his courses (an overall grade of a B might be considered extraordinary marks), students were very complimentary of the type of impact he made on their learning.

My experiences with Dr. Wild were limited, but I can confidently say that his Multiculturalism in Film course had a profound impact on the way I viewed the world. Not only did it introduce me to new cultural concepts through movies like Thunderheart & The Band's Visit, but it also trained me to constructively evaluate and analyze the underlying meanings of a film. Amazingly enough, this thought process has also helped me to critically evaluate the actions of organizations, people, etc. Although he pushed us virtually to our limits in terms of comprehension in the classroom, that bending of the human spirit ultimately resulted in creating a classroom of prepared learners, adept for the complexity of post-grad life. Dr. Wild understood one simple fact about college education: we needed to learn how to think; not think like him. As an aspiring educator myself, that is the ultimate goal that we all strive for. Preparing others to effectively navigate the world on their own is the crown jewel of educational achievement and empowerment.

Although Dr. Wild wasn't the most popular professor on campus, he made a significant impact on my life (and many others) years after just one course with the man. I doubt that he will ever read this blogpost, but perhaps a fellow Lyco alumni may see it and forward it along to him. Regardless, he has invested quite a bit of time and effort into all of his students and this is the least that I can do to repay him. It might have been painful at the time to take other courses with Dr. Wild, but I certainly regret not taking more of his courses.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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