So I’m working on a take-home final for my film theory class. No biggie, just review the readings, regurgitate, and mention a few movies along the way. Except that there’s a weird thing going on with these questions: two out of the three revolve around a certain prominent theorist. Given questions regarding the following range of topics, whose name would you expect to crop up most often? (Non-film theorists don’t necessarily have to answer, but the avant-garde theater buffs among you should know this one right off the bat.)

  • self-reflexivity
  • formal experimentation
  • activist art
  • social realism
  • Georg Lukács
  • direct address
  • … (You either get where this is going, or you’re already bored.)

Yes, Bertholt Brecht is, as you might expect, at the center of much of film theory. The only problem? We never talked about him in class, nor did we read more than a couple of sentences that mentioned him in passing. I’m trying to decide if the prof is trying to sneak in an extra week’s worth of lessons into this test, or if there was just a big fat hole in the syllabus. Oy.

The worst thing about all this? The extra work I have to do to figure out what Brecht’s about is keeping me from finishing this assignment, and is therefore keeping me from writing about what a great show Veronica Mars is. Which it is. More about that later. For now, back to figuring out if the “alienation effect” is a big deal.