This is an archived course. Visit the most recent syllabus.

Course Description

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.

Time and Place

Thursdays, 1:00 PM – 3:50 PM
Section: HA–362–03 Pratt Library, Room MMB


Juan Monroy

Office Hours

Thursdays, 12:00 - 1:00 PM
East Building, Room 207
Schedule an appointment at

Course Materials


The following textbook is available through online retailers, such as Amazon, through the Pratt Online Bookstore, and on reserve at the Pratt Brooklyn library.

  • Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History: An Introduction, 3rd ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Note that this is not the most recent version.

Reserve Readings

Required readings not found in the textbooks are posted on this website. Use your Pratt G Suite account to gain access.

Reserve Screenings

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:

DVD or Blu-ray
On reserve at the video library at the Visual and Multimedia Resources, on the lower level of the Library on the Brooklyn campus.
Many of these are available to stream online through Kanopy at Pratt, Alexander Street, and the Criterion Channel as well as other commercial streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video. Sign up for a free trial to Amazon Prime Video.

The hyperlinks below are for the DVDs held by Pratt Library, where available.


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 exams and writing assignments. We will cover the historical and cultural context relevant to the films presented in class.


Each week, there will be a in-class screening. Some screenings are available to stream online, and you may be able to purchase titles online and from local retailers. 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 written 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.

Late quizzes will not be accepted after the end of the due date.


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.

Community Standards

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.

Academic Integrity

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.

Mobile Phones

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.

Students with Disabilities

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 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.

Late Work and “Incomplete” Grades

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.


Weekly Quizzes

After reading the relevant section from the textbook, you will take a quiz on Google Classroom. Each quiz consists of about ten questions—a mix of true-false and multiple-choice. No late quizzes will be accepted.

  • Ten of twelve quizzes are required: your two lowest scores are dropped.
  • Due at 12 PM on the relevant day of class
  • 20% of final grade.

Survey of National Cinema: USSR, Germany, France

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.

Survey of New Waves: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, United States

In this second written assignment, examine the use of one or two stylistic devices in a new wave or experimental film studied in class.


Midterm Exam

A take-home exam, consisting of short answer questions that covers early film to World War II.

  • Exam Questions assigned March 7
  • Due March 28, in class
  • 20% of final grade

Final Exam

An in-class exam, consisting of identifications of specific films we’ve studied in this class.

The exam will present fifteen films and you must identify twelve of them. The films are from after the midterm exam.

Course Schedule

January 24 • Invention of Cinema

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.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 1, “The Invention and Early Years of the Cinema,” 3–21.
  • Tom Gunning, “Cinema of Attractions” (1986)
In-Class Screenings

  • Dickson Camera Test (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1891)
  • Men Boxing (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1891)
  • Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Caicdeo King of Slack Wire (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Luis Martinetti Contortionist (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Annabelle Butterfly Dance (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Buffalo Dance (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Imperial Japanese Dance (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Fire Rescue Scene (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Boxing Cats (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • The Kiss (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1896)
  • Workers Leaving the Factory (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1895)
  • Feeding the Baby (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1895)
  • Arrival of a Train at Ciotat (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1895)
  • Snowball Fight (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1895)
  • Sprinkling the Sprinkler (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1895)
  • Demolition of a Wall (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1896)
  • Leaving Jerusalem by Railway (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1896)
  • Star Theatre (American Mutoscope and Biograph, USA, 1901). Available on Disk 2 of Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Preserved Films
  • A Wringing Good Joke (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1903)
  • The Gay Shoe Clerk (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1903)
  • Mermaid (George Méliès, France, 1904)
  • The Black Imp (George Méliès, France, 1905)
  • The Eclipse: The Courtship of the Sun and Moon (George Méliès, France, 1905)
  • Long Distance Wireless Photography (George Méliès, France, 1905)
  • Red Spectre, by Segundo de Chomon and Ferdinand Zecca (Pathé Freres, France, 1907)
  • Troubles of a Grasswidower by Max Linder (Pathé Freres, France, 1908)

The Edison and Dickson films are available on Edison: The Invention of the Movies. The Lumiére films are available on The European Pioneers.

January 31 • Editing and Narrative

Composing a motion picture with multiple shots gave filmmakers novel ways to tell stories that would keep audiences interested in the movies.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 2, “The International Expansion of the Cinema, 1905–1912,” 22–42.
In-Class Screenings
Reserve Screenings

I will be screening The Birth of a Nation on Friday, February 8, 1:00 - 4:30 PM, at the Pratt Library, Room MMB.

February 7 • Soviet Montage

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.

In-Class Screening
Reserve Screenings

February 14 • French Film and the Avant-Garde

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-Class Screenings
Reserve Screenings

February 21 • German Expressionism

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.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 5, “Germany in the 1920s,” 87–104.
  • Siegfried Kracauer, “The Mass Ornament” (1927)
In-Class Screenings
  • The Last Laugh [Der Letzte Mann] (F.W. Murnau, Germany, 1924, 91 min.)
Reserve Screenings

February 28 • Classical Hollywood Cinema

American filmmaking was dominated by a streamlined, assembly-line production system that would largely prioritize storytelling ahead of exploiting the visual possibilities of filmmaking.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 10, “The Hollywood Studio System, 1930–1945,” 195–218.
In-Class Screenings
  • Vitaphone Short: “Will Hays Presents Vitaphone”
  • Don Juan (Alan Crossland, USA, 1926, excerpt)
  • The Jazz Singer (Alan Crossland, USA, 1927, excerpt)
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, USA, 1933, excerpt)
  • It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, USA, 1934, excerpt)
  • Little Caesar (Mervyn LeRoy, USA, 1931, 79 excerpt.)
Reserve Screening

March 7 • Documentary 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, often portraying the nation as a virtuous ideal.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 14, “Leftist, Documentary, and Experimental Cinemas, 1930–1945,” 277–295.
In-Class Screenings
Reserve Screenings

March 21 • Italian Neorealism

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.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 16, “Postwar European Cinema: Neorealism and its Context,” 324–341.
In-Class Screening
  • Rome, Open City [Roma, città aperta] (Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1945, 103 min.)
Reserve Screening

March 28 • French New Wave

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.

In-Class Screening
Reserve Screenings
  • 400 Blows [Les quatre cents coups] (François Truffaut, France, 1959, 99 min.) Required
  • Breathless [À bout de souffle] (Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1960, 90 min.) Required
  • La Jetée (Chris Marker, France, 1964, 28 min.)

April 4 • American Avant-Garde

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.”

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 21, “Experimental and Avant-Garde Cinema,” 451–469.
In-Class Screenings
  • Manhatta (Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, USA,1921, 12 min.)
  • Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, USA, 1936, 19 min.)
  • Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, USA, 1943, 14 min.)
  • A Movie (Bruce Conner, USA, 1959, 12 min.)
  • Wonder Ring (Stan Brakhage and Joseph Cornell, USA, 1959, 6 min.)
  • Bridges Go Round (Shirley Clarke, USA, 1958, 5 min.)
  • Mothlight (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1963, 4 min)
  • Scorpio Rising (Kenneth Anger, USA, 1964, 28 min.)
  • T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G (Paul Sharits, USA, 1968, 14 min.)
Reserve Screenings

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).


April 11 • Latin America, Third Cinema, and Cine Novo

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.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 23, “Political Filmmaking in the Third World,” 494–507.
  • Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino, “Towards a Third Cinema” (1968)
  • Julio García Espinosa, “For an Imperfect Cinema” (1969)
In-Class Screening
  • Los Olividados (Luis Buñuel, Mexico, 1950, 72 min.)
  • Tire Dié (Fernando Birri, Argentina, 1958, 33 min.)
  • Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Brazil, 1969 95 min.)
Reserve Screenings
  • Memories of Underdevelopment [Memorias del subdesarrollo] (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba, 1968, 97 min.) Required
  • The Hour of the Furnaces [Las Horas de los Hornos], “Part 1, Neocolonialism and Violence,” (Octavio Gettino and Fernando Solanas, Argentina, 1968, 94 mins.) Available on YouTube
  • Now! (Santiago Alvarez, Cuba, 1965, 5 mins). Also watch Alex Johnson’s Now! Again!, a remake of Now! that invokes the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • Watch Cuban filmmaker Julio Garcia Espinosa recall the influences of European and documentary film on Cuban filmmaking after the revolution and their attempt to create their own filmmaking practices.

April 18 • Eastern European New Waves

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.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 23, “Political Filmmaking in the First and Second Worlds,” 511–534.
In-Class Screening
  • Daisies [Sedmikársky] (Vera Chytilová, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 74 min.)
Reserve Screenings

April 25 • New Hollywood

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.

In-Class Screenings
Reserve Screenings
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, USA, 1966, 131 min.) Required
  • The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpaw, USA, 1969, 145 min.)
  • The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1974, 113 min.)

May 2 • East-Asian 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.

  • Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 27, “Cinema Rising: Pacific Asia and Oceania Since 1970,” 627–658.
In-Class Screening
  • Chungking Express [Chung Hing sam lam] (Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong, 1994, 102 min.)
Reserve Screenings
  • Raise the Red Lantern [Da hong deng long gao gao gua] (Yimou Zhang, PRC, 1991, 125 min.) Required
  • In Our Time [Guangyin De Gushi] (Edward Yang, Te-Chen Tao, I-Chen Ko, and Yi Chang, Taiwan, 1982, 109 min.)
  • The Killer [Diéxuè shuāngxióng] (John Woo, Hong Kong, 1989, 110 min.)

May 9 • Final Exam

We will take the final exam today in class. Use the review guide to prepare for the exam.