English 2460/Communications 2020

History of Film

Fall 2005, Monday, 6pm-10pm, 226 Manoogian
Steven Shaviro (313-577-5475; 5057 Woodward, room 9309; office hours Tuesday 12-2pm and by appointment)

Course Description

This class gives an overview of the history of film, from 1895 to the present day. We will look at some of the major milestones in film production, and consider issues like technological change, the influence of major directors, the role of the star system and the studios, and the significance of differing social and national contexts. Each class will include one complete film screening, followed by a lecture that will include clips and examples from a wide variety of other films.

Class Assignments and Requirements

There is one required textbook for the class: David A. Cook, A History of Narrative Film, 4th edition. It is available at Marwil Books. All readings are from this book.

There are four short quizzes, a midterm, and a final. In these tests you will be responsible both for material in the textbook, and for the films viewed in class, and the material covered in class lectures. There are no makeups; you must attend the class sessions in which the tests are given. Each of the four quizzes counts for 10% of your grade; the midterm counts for 20% of your grade, and the final for 40% of your grade.

Schedule of Classes

1.September 12
Introduction to class; The invention of film; early silent film. (Notes)
Screening: Metropolis (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1926)
Reading: Chapters 1-3

2.September 19
Silent film, continued; theory of montage in Soviet film; German and American silent film. (Notes)
Screening: Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, Russia, 1925)
Reading: Chapters 4-6

3.September 26
The coming of sound; Hollywood in the 1930s; the studio system. (Notes)
Screening: Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
Reading: Chapters 7-8
Quiz #1

4.October 3
European film in the 1930s; emergence of national cinemas; film and politics. (Notes)
Screening: Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
Reading: Chapter 9

5.October 10
Orson Welles; formal experimentation; Hollywood in the 1940s (Notes)
Screening: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
Reading: Chapter 10
Quiz #2

6.October 17
European film after World War II; neorealism (Notes)
Screening: Rome Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
Reading: Chapter 11

7.October 24
Japanese film; other Asian cinemas after World War II (Notes)
Screening: Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
Reading: Chapter 18

8.October 31
Hollywood in the 1950s; the end of the studio system (Notes)
Screening: The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
Reading: Chapter 12

9.November 7
Alfred Hitchcock (Notes)
Screening: Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
Reading: Chapter 12, continued
Quiz #3

10.November 14
The French New Wave; European art cinema in the 1960s (Notes)
Screening: Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
Reading: Chapters 13 & 15

11.November 21
The New Hollywood (1960s and 1970s) (Notes)
Screening: Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
Reading: Chapter 20

12.November 28
European Cinema, 1970-1990 (Notes)
Screening: The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)
Reading: Chapters 16 & 17
Quiz #4

13.December 5
Recent world film (Notes)
Screening: In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)
Reading: Chapter 19

14.December 12
Recent American film; new technologies (Notes)
Screening: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
Reading: Chapter 21

December 19: Final Exam