An historical survey of film from the advent of commercial motion pictures in the 1890s, the proliferation of national cinema movements throughout the 20th century, and the influence of each in the formation of a global film culture at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Tuesdays, 2:00 PM – 4:50 PM
Section: HA–362–01 Pratt Library, Room MMB
Wednesdays, 5:30PM - 8:20PM
Section: HA–362–02 Pratt Library, Room MMB
Tuesdays, 5:00 - 6:00 PM
East Building, Room 207
By appointment only
The following textbook is available through online retailers, such as Amazon, and on reserve at the Pratt Brooklyn library.
Required readings not found in the textbooks will be posted as PDFs on this website. Due to copyright concerns, enter the following credentials:
You must also screen certain films on your own outside of class. Required titles are listed on the course schedule as Required. Other titles are recommended for use in your writing assignments or for your own future reference.
There are two places to screen these films:
This class consists of five components. You cannot satisfactorily complete this course without all five of these.
At each class, we will discuss material you should know for the midterm exam and writing assignments. We will cover the historical and cultural context relevant to the films presented in class.
Each week, there will be at in-class screening. Some screenings are available to stream online and you may be able to purchase titles online and local video stores. However, the greatest value of this class comes from our watching films together and discussing them as a group, in the context of other films, readings, and spontaneous conversation.
You must also watch the reserve screenings to further stoke your cinephilia.
Please read the assigned course material before each week’s class. Consult the Course Schedule, listed below, for the specific reading assignments.
All assignments must be completed on time in order to receive full credit. Late assignments will be penalized by a 10% reduction for each 24-hour period it is late. After seven calendar days, the assignment will not be accepted, and you could fail this class.
Exams comprise 40% of your course grade and are designed to reward regular attendance and diligent studying. Exams must be completed at the date and time specified below.
Regular attendance is required.
Students must adhere to all Institute-wide policies listed in the Bulletin under “Community Standards” and which include policies on attendance, academic integrity, plagiarism, computer, and network use.
Absolute integrity is expected of every member of the Pratt Community in all academic matters, particularly with regard to academic honesty.
The latter includes plagiarism and cheating. In addition, the continued registration of any student is contingent upon regular attendance, the quality of work, and proper conduct. Irregular class attendance, neglect of work, failure to comply with Institute rules, and official notices or conduct not consistent with general good order is regarded as sufficient reasons for dismissal.
Please silence or turn off the radio in your mobile phone (power down the phone or set to “Do Not Disturb” mode).
Please check your official email account on a daily basis, if not more often. I will broadcast announcements and send point-to-point communiques using your official email address.
Please note that I am not allowed to discuss your grade from an account that is not your official email account.
Pratt Institute is committed to the full inclusion of all students. If you are a student with a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Learning/Access Center (L/AC) at LAC@pratt.edu to schedule an appointment to discuss these accommodations. Students with disabilities who have already registered with the L/AC are encouraged to speak to the professor about accommodations they may need to produce an accessible learning environment.
Requests for accommodation should be made as far in advance as reasonably possible to allow sufficient time to make any necessary modifications to ensure the relevant classes, programs, or activities are readily accessible. The L/AC is available to Pratt students, confidentially, with additional resources and information to facilitate full access to all campus programs and activities and provide support related to any other disability-related matters.
Please submit your work on time. Late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction for each 24-hour period it is late. After one calendar week, the assignment will not be accepted and you will likely fail this class.
There will be no incomplete grades for this class except in the case of a documented emergency in the final weeks of the semester. If you experience such an emergency, please contact me immediately, and we will work out a schedule for you to complete the outstanding work before the beginning of the following semester.
But aside from these circumstances, no late work will be accepted and no “incomplete” grades will be granted. If you have difficulty keeping up with coursework, consider giving yourself extra time to complete assignments, reducing your overall course load, and/or taking this class at a later semester.
Note: Flexible deadline requests are the initial step in a dialogue; it is your responsibility to reach out to me with the length of extension you need.
After reading the relevant chapters from the textbook, you will take a quiz. The link to each quiz is available on this website. Each quiz consists of about ten questions—a mix of true-false and multiple-choice.
Bring a hard copy of your completed quiz to class.
No late quizzes will be accepted.
In this first written assignment, compare the distinct style of one film we’ve studied from a specific national cinema to either a film from a different national cinema we’ve studied or a conventional narrative film of the 1910s and 1920s. You should examine the cinematography, the use of mise-en-scène, and/or the editing from specific scenes in the context the greater narrative discourse of the film and the motivations of the filmmaker working in the particular national context.
In this second written assignment, examine the use of one or two stylistic devices in a new wave or experimental film studied in class.
In this third written assignment, examine a film produced since 1980 by an East Asian nation or an international coproduction and locate the influences of contemporary national cinemas. You should note the relationship that a foreign nation might have on the style of the film.
A take-home exam, consisting of short essay questions and covering early film to World War II.
An in-class exam, consisting of identification and short essay questions and covering cinema after World War II.
Use the review questions to prepare for the exam, including surveying the format of the exam.
The invention of motion pictures in the late 19th century was a combination of breakthroughs in photography, persistence of vision, industrialization, and a commercial fascination with visual entertainment.
Composing a motion picture with multiple shots gave filmmakers novel ways to tell stories that would keep audiences interested in the movies.
Recorded Class: As I was sick on Wednesday, January 25, audition the recorded lecture and watch The Cheat on this YouTube playlist to cover the material I wanted to cover today.
Editing allowed filmmakers in the Soviet Union to combine shots not only for the purpose of storytelling but for communicating complex themes and concepts relevant to the October Revolution.
French filmmakers in the 1920s fostered a film culture that treated film in the tradition of fine arts, not commercial entertainment as was common in the previous decade.
In the years following its defeat in World War I, German filmmakers borrowed from painting and theater to craft a distinct style that would influence filmmakers throughout the world for many decades.
American filmmaking was dominated by a streamlined, assembly-line production system that would largely prioritize storytelling ahead of exploiting the visual possibilities of filmmaking.
Between the two world wars, film offered politically committed individuals and organizations a medium with which to document the world and compel audiences to take action.
Following the aftermath of World War II, Italian filmmakers disavowed the polished look of their predecessors in favor exploring the struggle and anguish of everyday postwar life.
At the end of the 1950s, a new wave of mostly young, first-time filmmakers excited international audiences with films that simultaneously borrowed from Hollywood films of the war years with their own distinct personal styles.
Influenced by European artists and filmmakers, the American avant-garde movement eschewed the conventions of narrative and psychologically driven characters of the commercial cinema, which a group of avant-garde American filmmakers called “out of breath.”
Note: These titles include explicit depictions of the human body in the act of childbirth (Window Baby Water Moving) and engaged in sexual intercourse (Fuses).
Latin American nations, particularly Cuba, rejected the cinemas of the First and Second Worlds in favor of unique, experimental style that would be used for engaging the public with revolutionary ideas.
While most filmmaking behind the “iron curtain” was state-controlled, some intrepid filmmakers in Eastern European nations developed experimental techniques to craft a political cinema that could skirt the scrutiny of state censors.
The fall of studio system in the late 1960s allowed filmmakers, inspired by the work of the European New Waves, to challenge the established practices and style of Hollywood in favor of an artistically minded cinema.
Following the Chinese Revolution of 1949, cinema would evolve as an isolated, state-sponsored propaganda model on the Mainland and as a commercial, narrative system critical of the Revolution in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
We will take the final exam today in class.
Use the review questions to prepare for the exam, including surveying the format of the exam.