Skip to Main Content

Film Studies

This guide is an introduction to the resources for Film Studies at Dartmouth. If you are interested in Television, see the separate research guide for Television.

A short definition for "Acting"

The work of creating a dramatic character by a professional or amateur performer. The term acting is most often used in relation to narrative cinema, where the construction of character is central (see performance). Actors construct characters through their bodies (posture, gesture, and movement augmented by costume, makeup, hairstyle) and voices (tone, accent, delivery). During the making of Sunrise (1927), for example, F.W. Murnau is said to have asked actor George O’Brien to act with his back, indicating the importance of physical typing, posture, and movement to the construction of character. Action, reaction, and interaction between actors are also fundamental elements of any performance (see blocking). The work of the actor tends to be amplified by the close, almost forensic, scrutiny of the film camera, and screen acting is a specific skill that often involves understatement and restraint (see closeup). It is also important to remember that film acting is as much a product of blocking, camera angle, camera movement, costume, lighting, sound design, and special effects, as it is of the work undertaken by the actor’s voice and body; indeed, a key early debate in film studies was whether screen performance or editing are more determinate of a film’s meaning. Acting is considered as central to a film’s mise-en-scene and a major preoccupation for film studies has been the attempt to establish a suitable vocabulary for describing the work of acting as a sign system (see semiotics).   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Acting. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 15 Nov. 2023

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Selected recent biographies/autobiographies in our collections

Find more recent biographies in our library's collections.

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's also available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.