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.
This course will be conducted remotely.
Most learning activities will be asynchronous, meaning that students will complete these on their own time during the assigned week.
In addition, there will be a certain number of synchronous activities, including a weekly discussion session on Zoom. Office hours will also be held at a scheduled date and time on either Google Meet or Zoom.
Office Hours will be held remotely using:
Assignments due before spring break require enrollment in our Google Classroom course. You can join the course by doing the following:
- Go to https://classroom.google.com.
- Sign in with your Pratt G Suite account.
- Enter the class code 27jomog provided in class.
Pratt LMS: Moodle
Assignments and activities after spring break, and in the Age of the Virus, are available on the LMS.
Please complete all of the assignments by the date noted on the course schedule.
Assigned readings are listed in the course schedule below and available from the following sources:
Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History: An Introduction, 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2019.
Required readings not found in the textbooks are linked on this website. Use your Pratt G Suite account to gain access.
Each Thursday morning, I will post a reading quiz on the LMS. The quiz will consist of true-false and multiple choice questions.
Complete each quiz by the end of the week of each class.
- Due dates:
- Quiz 7: April 3
- Quiz 8: April 10
- Quiz 9: April 17
- Quiz 10: April 24
- Quiz 11: May 1
- Quiz 12: May 8
- TEN of TWELVE quizzes are required
- Weight: 20%
Watch each of the films listed in the course schedule below. You will need to authenticate with your Pratt One Key credentials to access these screenings.
Each week, I will post a link to a video recording of my lecture of that week’s course material. The link will be available on this course schedule, below, and on the LMS.
Live Discussion Session
All students must participate in the weekly discussion session. The session will be held each Wednesday, at 10:30 AM, beginning on April 1.
The session will be hosted on Zoom.
I recommend running Zoom on a computer through a web browser or through the mobile apps, available for Android and iOS. As a last resort, you can join the session using a telephone number and a PIN.
The link to join the session on Zoom is available on the LMS
Essay 1: 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.
Essay 2: 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 new wave or experimental film(s) studied in class.
A take-home exam, consisting of short answer questions that covers early film to World War II.
- Exam Questions assigned March 4, on Google Classroom
- Due March 11, in class
- 20% of final grade
The take-home final exam will consist of two parts:
- A set of visual identification questions asking you to identify the film and the segment’s context to the rest of the film.
- A set of short answer questions about the screenings and readings related to movements and trends we covered in the second half of the course.
- Available on the LMS
- Due on Tuesday, May 12, 5:00 PM, on the LMS
- Weight: 20%
Course Schedule, Pre-Virus
January 22 • 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)
- 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 29 • 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.
- Life of an American Fireman (Edwin S. Porter, USA, 1903, 6 min.) Available on Disk 1 of Edison: The Invention of the Movies.
- The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, USA, 1903, 11 min.) Available on Disk 1 of Edison: The Invention of the Movies.
- Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest (Edwin S. Porter and J. Searle Dawle, USA, 1908, 6 min.) Available on Disk 3 of Edison: The Invention of the Movies.
- A Trip to the Moon (George Méliès, France, 1902, 12 min.)
- An Unseen Enemy (D.W. Griffith, USA, 1912, 15 min.)
- The Cheat (Cecil B. deMille, USA, 1915, 60 min.)
February 5 • 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.
February 12 • 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.
- Anemic Cinema (Marcel Duchamp, France, 1926, 7 min.) Disk 1 of Masterworks of American Avant-Garde Experimental Film, 1920–1970
- Entr’acte (René Clair, France, 1924, 22 min.)
- La Roue, Essay by Kristin Thompson (Abel Gance, France, 1922)
- The Passion of Joan of Arc [La Passion de Jeanne D’Arc] (Carl Theodor Dreyer, France, 1928, 81 min.)
- Ballet Mechanique (Ferdinand Leger and Dudley Murphy, France, 1923, 19 min.) Required
- Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, France, 1929, 16 min.) Required
- A Propos de Nice (Jean Vigo, France, 1930, 22 min.)
- The Seashell and the Clergyman [La Coquille et le clergyman] (Germaine Dulac, France, 1928, 41 min.)
- La petite marchande d’allumettes [The Little Match Girl] (Jean Renoir, France, 1928, 33 min.)
- Retour a la Raison (Man Ray, France 1923, 3 min.)
- Paris Qui Dort [The Crazy Ray] (René Clair, France, 1925, 35 min.)
February 19 • 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.
- Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari] (Robert Weine, Germany, 1920, 78 min.) Required Available on…
- The Last Laugh [Der Letzte Mann] (F.W. Murnau, Germany, 1924, 91 min.)
- Metropolis (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1927, 148 min.)
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, USA, 1929, 90 min.)
February 26 • 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.
- 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.)
March 4 • 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.
- Industrial Britain (Robert Flaherty, UK, 1931, 21 min.) Available on Disk 1 of Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement, 1930–1950.
- The Plow that Broke the Plains (Pare Lorentz, USA, 1936, 25 min.)
- “Prelude to War,” Part 1 of Why We Fight (Frank Capra, USA, 1942, 52 min.) Available on Disk 1 of Mr. Capra Goes to War: Frank Capra’s World War II Documentaries
- Listen to Britain (Humphrey Jennings, UK, 1942, 19 min.)
March 11 • 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.
- Rome, Open City [Roma, città aperta] (Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1945, 103 min.)
Course Schedule, Post-Virus
Please complete all of the assignments by the date noted on this schedule.
April 1 • 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.
- Read Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 20, “France: New Wave and New Cinema..”
- Read François Truffaut, “A Certain Tendency of French Cinema” (1954)
- Complete Quiz 7 on the LMS or Google Classroom.
- Watch Cleo from 5 to 7 [Cléo de 5 à 7] (Agnès Varda, France, 1962, 90 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Breathless [À bout de souffle] (Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1960, 90 min.) Available on Kanopy.
- Watch La Jetée (Chris Marker, France, 1964, 28 min.) Available on Kanopy.
- Watch the recorded lecture.
- Join the Live Discussion Session on Wednesday, April 1, 10:30 AM, on Zoom. Recording of Live Discussion Session available on the LMS.
April 8 • 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.”
- Read Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 21, “Experimental and Avant-Garde Cinema.”
- Complete Quiz 8 on the LMS.
- Watch Manhatta (Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, USA,1921, 12 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, USA, 1936, 19 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, USA, 1943, 14 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Wonder Ring (Stan Brakhage and Joseph Cornell, USA, 1959, 6 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Bridges Go Round (Shirley Clarke, USA, 1958, 5 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Mothlight (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1963, 4 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Scorpio Rising (Kenneth Anger, USA, 1964, 28 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Nostalgia (Hollis Frampton, USA, 1971, 38 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch the recorded lecture.
- Join the Live Discussion Session on Wednesday, April 8, 10:30 AM, on Zoom. Recording of Live Discussion Session available on the LMS.
April 15 • 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.
- Read Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 23, “Political Filmmaking in the Third World.”
- Read Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino, “Towards a Third Cinema” (1968)
- Read Julio García Espinosa, “For an Imperfect Cinema” (1969)
- Complete Quiz 9 on the LMS.
- Watch Los Olividados (Luis Buñuel, Mexico, 1950, 72 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Tire Dié (Fernando Birri, Argentina, 1958, 33 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Now! (Santiago Alvarez, Cuba, 1965, 5 mins) and 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.
- Watch the recorded lecture.
- Join the Live Discussion Session on Wednesday, April 15, 10:30 AM, on Zoom. Recording of Live Discussion Session available on the LMS.
April 22 • 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.
- Read Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 23, “Political Filmmaking in the First and Second Worlds.”
- Complete Quiz 10 on the LMS.
- Watch Daisies [Sedmikársky] (Vera Chytilová, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 74 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch WR: Mysteries of the Organism [W.R. Misterije organizma] (Dusan Macavejev, Yugoslavia, 1971, 84 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch the recorded lecture.
- Join the Live Discussion Session on Wednesday, April 22, 10:30 AM, on Zoom. Recording Live Discussion Session available on the LMS.
April 29 • 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.
- Read Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 22, “Hollywood’s Rise and Fall, 1960–1980.”
- Read Andrew Sarris, “Notes on Auteur Theory in 1962” (1962–63)
- Read Pauline Kael, “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967)
- Complete Quiz 11 on the LMS.
- Watch Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, USA, 1967, 111 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, USA, 1966, 131 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch the recorded lecture.
- Join the Live Discussion Session on Wednesday, April 29, 10:30 AM, on Zoom. Recording Live Discussion Session available on the LMS.
May 6 • 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.
- Read Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 27, “Cinema Rising: Pacific Asia and Oceania Since 1970.”
- Complete Quiz 12 on the LMS.
- Watch Chungking Express [Chung Hing sam lam] (Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong, 1994, 102 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Raise the Red Lantern [Da hong deng long gao gao gua] (Yimou Zhang, PRC, 1991, 125 min.) Available from the LMS.
- Watch Love in a Fallen City (Ann Hui, Hong Kong, 1984, 93 min.) Available on Amazon Prime.
- Watch the recorded lecture.
- Join the Live Discussion Session on Wednesday, May 6, 10:30 AM, on Zoom. Recording Live Discussion Session available on the LMS.
May 12 • Final Exam
The take-home final exam is due today on the LMS.