"New Perspectives on Elvis Film"
course has been run periodically at academic insitutions in
Canberra, Australia since the early 1990's, with an online option since 2001.
unable to attend "in class" sessions are able to
undertake the course as a "distance learning" subject
either by Internet/email or regular post.
course offers a fun learning experience and is conducted using a hands on approach supported by a set of detailed
hand-outs, course bibliography and ongoing feedback.
For distance learning participants
the course is designed to be self-paced over 2-3 months and there is easy
access to the course facilitator.
to enrol in the course
course overview, enrolment details and hand outs are outlined below.
"New Perspectives on Elvis Film"
to The Elvis Film Course!
- Course Handouts
- Selected bibliography
- Course Evaluation
the next eight to twelve weeks you are going to experience, discover and rediscover
Elvis's body of film work in a new way. Also, after studying various
film techniques and concepts you will be equipped to evaluate any
film you watch on several levels, from pure enjoyment to a reasonably
sophisticated understanding of how and why the filmmaker has structured
his or her film in a particular way.
will also know what 'tricks of the trade' the filmmaker has used
and how non-film media texts reinforce deliberately devised meanings
within a film.
idea is to have a lot of fun looking at what was, and still is,
for many of us, an important part of our formative Elvis years.
At the same time we will learn a lot more about how Elvis films
were structured in ordered to heighten their appeal to his fans.
of learning about basic film concepts is that you are unlikely to
view any film in the same way again.
with TV/film since 1970 (presenter at ANU Film Group sessions
on Elvis films in early 1970s and at UTS in the early 1990s)
in TV policy area of Department of Communications for 5 years
including as Manager of the Business Television facility
10 years lecturer at the Woden TAFE lecturing in Consumer Education
and Small Business Management
of the Elvis Information Network (an Official Australian Elvis
Fan Club operated out of Canberra and Sydney)
of the Coalition of Australian Elvis Fan Clubs (a grouping of
the 8 major Elvis fan clubs in Australia that liaises with BMG
Australia and Elvis Presley Enterprises/Graceland)
Course fee: US$64.00 (compared to "in-class" fee of US$85.00)
Limited to ten participants and enrolments close on 28 June 2006
The course fee includes:
lesson materials including 20+ study sheets, background/technical
notes, film examples and course exercises
- recommended course bibliography
tutor feedback and advice
Certificate suitable for framing (certificate sent to you by email)
you will need is some spare time, a few Elvis videos/DVDs to
watch, and access to one or more text books on film studies (available from your local bookstore or library).
design: While the course includes basic technical film elements,
these are presented in an easy to understand way. The course is also
structured to give you a lot of fun as you learn more about Elvis
films and explore the art of filmmaking.
bank cheque or money order
deposit (for Australian residents)
to enrol: All you have to do is register with EIN by email
and pay before 28 June 2006.
"Thanks for a wonderfully stimulating course" (Mary Wickers, 2005)
"Loved doing this course. I'm now enjoying reviewing Elvis's films in a new light" (Brad Burgoyne, 2005)
"I've been after an Elvis study course for ages and The Elvis Film was just what I needed. Heaps of fun and educational." (Amber Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org, 2003)
"I really enjoyed the course, thankyou." (Sue Birdsall, 2003)
"This was one of the best courses I've ever done!" (Melinda Bakker - melindabakker@hotmail, 2002)
"Fantastic course. I never knew there was so much to Elvis' movies." (Chad Heywood - email@example.com, 2002)
"What have you done? I can't watch TV without dissecting how each show was put together. I love it." (Margaret Johnson, 2001)
Brief History of Academic Studies on Elvis
have been numerous academic courses internationally including the
'Annual Conference on Elvis Presley' in Memphis.
Australia, the earliest known academic study was the ANU Film Group's
series of on Elvis Films in the early 1970s. A
precursor of The Elvis Film: 'B' Grade Celluloid or Star Vehicle? was run in the early 1990s at UTS in Sydney. More recently, The
Elvis Film has been offered by The Canberra College (becoming the
first distance learning subject in the College's history!). "New Perspectives on Elvis Film" appears to be the only "distance education" film course about Elvis currently offered.
Institute of Technology (Melbourne, Australia) has also offered an Elvis course
for several years, while Griffith University, Australia introduced a three-year
Bachelor of Popular Music course in 1999 - Elvis is an integral
part of the course.
in Canberra, Australia, Susan MacDougall has been presenting the course 'Elvis
Presley as a Twentieth Century Phenomenon' at the University of
the 3rd Age for several years.
the USA, Dr. Donald Johns faciltates a course at UC Davis, Elvis
Presley: Roots, Impacts, Legacies. This course examines Elvis
as a watershed in American Cultural History. Elsewhere, music professor
and composer, Stephan Prock, runs the course All Shook Up: Elvis
in American Culture at the University of Virginia.
Also, in the US, Douglas Brode, author of 2006's highly anticipated book, Elvis Cinema & Popular Culture, has been running his own university based film course for a number of years.
about "New Perspectives on Elvis Film"
(formerly offered as: "The Elvis Film: Star Vehicle or 'B' Grade Celluloid?")
course has been designed to be completed over an eight to twelve weeks period.
For each module in the course there are a series of background information
sheets and focus questions. In addition, participants will need
to study various Elvis movies, in part or whole, to identify where
and how key film concepts are used and how Elvis's film career has
a number of quite distinct phases. All exercises and focus questions
are shown in shade boxes. Many important points are shown in bold
text. You will note that most hand-outs include learning outcomes
for the particular module or subject covered.
course also includes some 'fun' pieces of Elvis Film Trivia, Elvis
Film Questions and Elvis Games along the way. To optimise your learning
experience it is important that you challenge the facilitator's
views throughout the course. In some ways what we are about to study
is a very subjective area. Let's get underway.
We have included examples of several "course exercses" (see grey boxes) in the following overview to give you an idea of some of the concepts and ideas covered in the course.
Elvis Film Course begins…. : during Module 1,
participants will be famialiarising themselves with:
making definitions, devices and values
concept of Star Vehicle and related consistent structural elements
approaches to analysing or categorising Elvis films
a general hypothesis to be tested throughout the course
themselves watching a lot of Elvis movies!!!
Learning Tip: Your
learning in this segment is the foundation for the rest of the course.
Work through each handout in chronological order. Throughout the
course, spend some time really understanding the ideas in each handout.
It will enhance your understanding if you watch a film and identify
specific examples of each of the concepts, themes and devices. Initially,
the idea is to study Elvis movies, although once you become familiar
with many of the concepts you will find yourself automatically looking
for, or finding examples of them, during your daily television viewing.
Exercise - Hand Out #1 - The Art of Elvis Movies and place an 'X' in each box you believe is appropriate for all of Elvis's 31 narrative films. Don't worry about the box named 'Core' - this relates to something we will cover later in the course. Once you have completed the matrix answer the following questions:
1. Looking at your matrix, what broad pattern or patterns, if any, do you see?
2. Are there any patterns relating to Elvis's pre and post Army period?
3. What about any pattern in his last four or five movies?
4. What conclusions do you draw from the patterns you have observed?
#2 - Key Elements in Filmmaking: Please familarise yourself
with the definitions and devices covered in this handout. They will
help you understand various elements of film making throughout the
course. " Exercise: For the next few weeks it is important that
you look for these elements, how they are used and the emotional
or psychological impact they have, when you are viewing films and
#3 - Elvis's Film Career: A Brief Synopsis: This handout is
self-explanatory and provides a brief overview of the four major
phases to Elvis' film career that are the subject of this course.
#4 - Schematic Approaches to the Elvis Film: This handout provides
an outline of four different approaches to examining or analysing
Elvis' body of film work. Handout 4A - The Elvis Molecule: A different
and very clever way of examining Elvis films.
|Focus question: Of the four approaches to examining Elvis's body of film work, which one do you prefer and why?
#5 - General Hypothesis: In this handout a general hypothesis
is posed regarding Elvis' film work - a hypothesis that you will
test throughout the course.
#6 - Star Vehicle & Star Image: This paper outlines the primary elements
of what constitutes the concept of 'star vehicle' and the consistent elements present to support 'star image'. Includes several
Handout #7 - Themes & Motifs: Another type of film text used to convey meaning to an audience is that of themes or motifs. A lot of interesting material is covered in this handout. Media Text 1 - Colonel Parker: Master Negotiator or Svengali? Our first look at the use of deliberate 'texts' to influence the media and public. Media Text 1C - an early review with an interesting distinction.
Handout #8 - Production Values: This paper provides a brief introduction to what we mean when we talk about a film having good or poor production values. There is also a section looking specifically at the production values for each phase of Elvis' film career.
Handout 9 - Focus Questions: Answer these questions BEFORE moving on to handout #10. Completing these questions will help you reinforce your knowledge and understanding of film concepts, devices and thenotion of 'star vehicle'.
Handout #10 - Pre Army Codes: Lists a series of codes evident in Elvis's pre Army films. Exercise: examine this list and identify examples of the codes in a number of his films made between 1956 and 1958.
Handout #11 - Early Reviews (Media Texts): Provides various examples of media and co-star reviews that serve to illustrate the set of media texts surrounding the younger Elvis. Focus question: Why is there a tension between media views about the young Elvis and the views of those who actually worked with him?
Module 2, participants will be examining in some detail the
range of texts, codes and film concepts used in the first three
phases of Elvis' body of film work. Participants will study how
and why the various concepts etc have been used differently in phases
1, 2 and 3 of Elvis' film career.
important integration of sound and vision in a film will also be
explored as will examples of media texts on Elvis from the 1950s
to 1970s. To begin with, review Handouts 6, 7, and 8 - 11.
#12 - Focus Questions
#13 - Sound and Vision: Not the David Bowie song, but a look
at the added impact on the audience of carefully integrated sound and vision.
#14 - Post Army Codes: Lists a series of codes evident in Elvis's
post Army films (up to 1967).
|Exercise: Examine this list and identify examples of the codes in several of his films made between 1960 and 1966.
Handout #15 - The Late 60s Codes: Lists a series of codes evident in Elvis's last few narrative films. Exercise: examine this list and identify examples of the codes in several of his films made between 1967 and 1969.
Exercise: Using the information in these handouts:
- identify two pre Army scenes (in one or more films) that demonstrate: Iconography; Narrative function; Visual style; Other codes/text
- identify two post Army scenes (in one or more films) that demonstrate: Iconography; Narrative function; Visual style; Other codes/text
- identify texts and scenes that demonstrate the third phase of Elvis' film career
Media Text 1A: This two-page article from a 1967 issue of the Australian magazine, Movie News, provides an example of how the media was used to convey certain messages about Elvis.
- What message(s) are conveyed about Elvis in this article?
- How valid do you feel the messages are?
the end of Module 2 you should be comfortable with the range of film
concepts studied and understand how they were used in the initial
three phases of Elvis' films. You will also be able to articulate
key differences in Elvis films between each of the three phases.
The final module will bring all of your learning together
by you watching and analysing:
(full) film from each of the first three phases of Elvis' film
other Media Text examples (examples obtained by each participant)
will also look at the films Elvis never made or finished including
'The Pied Piper of Cleveland', 'Thunder Alley', 'A Star Is Born',
'The New Gladiators' and 'Forever Is A Bullet Away'.
#16 - Chart of Film & Non-Film Texts Exercise: watch an entire
film from each of the first three phases of Elvis's film career
and then complete the matrix. Preparatory work for the exercises
in Handouts #18 & #19.
16A - Chart of Film & Non-Film Texts: Provides an example of
one approach to completing the matrix in Handout #16.
#17 - Some Scenes for Study: Presents answers/learning outcomes
for some of the specific scenes studied throughout the course.
#18 - The Three Distinct Phases of Elvis' Diverse Film Career:
Identifying the Differences Two exercises where you will identify
the different set of codes at work during each of the first three
phases of Elvis' film career.
Using your local library, the Internet, or your own personal Elvis collection,
locate a media text from the 1950s and one from the mid-1970s. Answer
these two questions: What messages (texts) do they carry and
how do they differ from the texts in the Movie News article examined
as Media Text 1?
#19 - Focus Questions for Segment 3
Handout #20 - Elvis Films - the Political Famework
#21 - The Films Elvis Never Made: a fun research exercise.
#22 - Selected Bibliography
#23 - Playing the Elvis Game: a fun activity based around the
co-stars in Elvis's body of films.
Course Evaluation Sheet
PLUS a stimulating article or two
you have a question?
you want to know more about the course Nigel Patterson either:
EIN Film Course
post: P.O. Box 5701, Lyons, ACT, 2606 (Australia)