A survey of international film history from the beginnings of public film exhibition to the coming of sound. This course covers early motion picture technology, the development of narrative and editing techniques, and the growth of the Hollywood studio system and national cinemas around the world.
G Building, Room 103
Thursday, 5:00 – 6:00 PM
The following are available at the Queens College Bookstore, Student Union Building, Phone: (718) 997–3573, through online retailers, and on reserve at Rosenthal Library.
Starting in 2009, required course materials qualify for a tax credit.
Required course readings not found in the textbook are available electronically from the course website. When prompted, enter the username and password provided on the first day of class and on the announcements section of Blackboard.
I have established a blog where I will post summaries of course lecture and commentary related to the topics we are covering. I will regularly post analyses related to the films we covered in class or elaborate on the material covered in lecture.
We will be using Blackboard for announcements, assignment guidelines, and your individual grade book. You will also use Blackboard to take quizzes and submit each of your assignments.
Please update your email address on Blackboard to one that you currently check, preferably your QC email address.
If you don’t use it already, I highly recommend using Dropbox to store your files in the cloud. You can sign up for free and receive two (2) gigabytes of cloud based storage. This is an invaluable tool for accessing all of your files anywhere without having to carry a USB flash drive. I hate those things.
This class consists of five components. You cannot satisfactorily complete this course without all five of these.
Each lecture will form the basis of the material I expect you to know for the exams. I will present on the historical and cultural context relevant to the film movement covered that particular week. I will post outlines and slides from each lecture, but believe me, those serve as poor substitutes for attending each week’s lecture.
There will be an in-class screening each week, usually following the lecture. I will lead a brief discussion after these screenings, depending on time constraints.
You will also be responsible for an outside screening. These films are available at on reserve at Rosenthal Library. Some of the titles are available for rent/purchase on Amazon or iTunes. You may also stream some of these titles through Hulu Plus or Netflix.
Please read the assigned course material prior to each week’s class. Consult the Course Schedule for the required 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 will likely fail this class.
Exams comprise half of your course grade and are written to reward regular attendance and diligent studying. Exams will be administered in class and must be taken at the specified date and time.
Please respect the classroom environment. You should pay attention to the lecture, take notes, and avoid distractions, such as web surfing and using your mobile phone. Studies have consistently shown that students using laptops and mobile phones perform about 11% worse than students who are not distracted by these devices. On a personal note, it’s very difficult to stay motivated as a teacher if I see students seemingly disinterested in their own education. If I find you engaging in disruptive behavior, such as watching online videos, passing notes, instant messaging, chatting, or texting, I will remove you from the classroom and have you withdraw from the class.
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.
Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York. Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion. Examples of Academic Dishonesty include cheating, plagiarism, obtaining an unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents.
Cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted use of material, infonnation, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise. Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. Obtaining Unfair Advantage is any action taken by a student that gives that student an unfair advantage in his/her academic work over another student, or an action taken by a student through which a student attempts to gain an unfair advantage in his or her academic work over another student.
For tips and information on how to maintain academic integrity, consult Writing at Queens document, “What is Plagiarism?”.
Please silence or turn off the radio in your mobile phone (power down the phone or set to “Airplane” mode). Not only do ringing phones disrupt class, most phones will also interfere with the media equipment in the room.
Students must surrender mobile phones and tablets on exam days.
Please check your QC email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) on a daily basis, if not more frequently. 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
Queens College has a history of commitment to the enhancement of education of students with disabilities. The Office of Special Services for Students with Disabilities was established in 1974 to provide equal opportunities for a college education to academically qualified students with physical disabilities. The office offers comprehensive support services to students with various disabilities. Queens College prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and it ensures full access and equal opportunity to qualified students with disabilities to all academic programs and social activities on campus.
To receive these services, a student must first register with the office in Kiely 171. To do so, you must bring proper documentation pertaining to the nature of your disability from a qualified professional. To learn more about CUNY Assistive Technology Services and the office located at Queens College, call (718) 997–3775 or visit Kiely Hall 173. For more information, visit The Office of Special Services.
Each week, I will post a quiz consisting of review questions. The questions cover the material covered in lecture and in the assigned readings. Each quizzes is due on Wednesday after our class, at noon. No late quizzes will be accepted.
- Due: Wednesday after our class, 12:00 PM
- Weight: 15%
I will provide you with thirty (30) events relevant to the history of film and global culture. Give the four digit year event took place.
- Due: February 15, 5:00 PM, on Blackboard.
- Weight: 10%
D.W. Griffith and Narrative Form
Deservedly or not, film historians have credited D.W. Griffith with developing and popularizing some of the most durable narration techniques of the cinema. In this assignment, you will analyze some how Griffith uses film techniques to craft narrative form in one his early films produced at Biograph.
- Length: 500 words
- Due: Thursday, March 14, in class and on Blackboard.
- Weight: 15%
Style and Culture of National Cinema
In the first three decades of the cinema there were inventors and innovators working on motion pictures throughout the world, often developing very unique approaches to the technical and creative aspects of the motion picture. As we have seen thus far this semester, cinema produced in one nation might be made for a different context than films produced in a different nation. And the purpose of filmmaking reflects or determines the stylistic conventions used in the making of a body of films.
- Length: 500 words
- Due: Thursday, May 2, in class and on Blackboard.
- Weight: 15%
The midterm exam is an in-class exam, consisting of true-false, multiple choice, identification and short essay questions. The exam will cover the course material from the first six weeks of the class.
Like the midterm exam, the final exam is also an in-class exam, consisting of true-false, multiple choice, identification and short essay questions. The exam will cover the course material from the second half of the course.
- Thursday, May 23, 1:45 PM
- Weight: 25%
January 31 • Introduction
February 7 • Invention of Cinema
Answer the questions for Week 2 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due February 13.
- Thompson and Bordwell, 3–21.
- Allen, Robert C. “Vitascope/Cinématographe: Initial Patterns of American Film Industrial Practice.” In Film Before Griffith, edited by John Fell, 144–152. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
- Gunning, Tom. “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde.” In Film and Theory: An Anthology, edited by Toby Miller and Robert Stam, 229–235. Malden, Mass. and Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.
- 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)
- Athlete with Wand (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
- Imperial Japanese Dance (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
- Interior New York Subway, 14th St to 42nd St (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)
- President McKinley at Home (American Mutoscope and Biograph, USA, 1896)
- New York: Brooklyn Bridge(Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1896)
- New York: Broadway at Union Square (Auguste and Louis Lumiére, France, 1896)
- The Kiss (Edison Manufacturing Company, 1900)
- Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River (Edison Manufacturing Company, 1903, 3 min.)
- A Wringing Good Joke (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1903)
- The Gay Shoe Clerk (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1903)
February 21 • Early European Film
Answer the questions for Week 3 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due February 27.
- How It Feels to Be Run Over (Cecil B. Hepworth, Great Britain, 1900)
- Explosion of a Motor Car (Cecil B. Hepworth, Great Britain, 1900)
- Rescued by Rover (Cecil B. Hepworth, Great Britain, 1905)
- The Other Side of the Hedge (Cecil B. Hepworth, Great Britain, 1905)
- Ali Baba et les Quarantes Voleurs (Pathé Freres, France, 1905)
- Reve et realite (Pathé Freres, France, 1901)
- La Revolution en Russie (Pathé Freres, France, 1906)
- Excelsior! Prince of the Magicians (George Méliès, France, 1901)
- Tchin-Chao, the Chinese Conjuror (George Méliès, France, 1904)
- Mermaid (George Méliès, France, 1904)
- The Black Imp (George Méliès, France, 1905)
- Living Playing Cards (George Méliès, France, 1905)
- The Eclipse: The Courtship of the Sun and Moon (George Méliès, France, 1905)
- Hilarious Posters (George Méliès, France, 1907)
- Long Distance Wireless Photography (George Méliès, France, 1905)
- A Trip to the Moon (George Méliès, France, 1902)
- Troubles of a Grasswidower, by Max Linder (Pathé Freres, France, 1908)
- Red Spectre, by Ferdinand Zecca (Pathé Freres, France, 1908)
- Nero and the Fall of Rome (Ambrosio, Italy, 1908)
- Cinema Europe: Where It All Began (Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, 1995, United Kingdom)
February 28 • Early American Film
Answer the questions for Week 4 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due March 6.
- Life of an American Fireman (Edwin S. Porter, USA, 1903, 6 min.)
- The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, USA, 1903, 11 min.)
- The Kleptomaniac (Edwin S. Porter, USA, 1905, 10 min.)
- Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest (Edwin S. Porter and J. Searle Dawle, USA, 1908, 6 min.)
- Silent Heroes (Thomas Ince, USA, 1913, 13 min.)
- Making of an American Citizen (Alice Guy Blaché, USA, 1912, 16 min.)
- Fatty Joins the Force (Mack Sennett, USA, 1913, 14 min.)
- Kid’s Auto Races at Venice (Mack Sennett, USA, 1914, 11 min. )
- An Unseen Enemy (D.W. Griffith, USA, 1912, 15 min.)
- The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (D.W. Griffith, USA, 1913, 28 min.)
Screenings for D.W. Griffith Assignment
The following screenings are available on the DVD set: Biograph Shorts: Griffith Masterworks (Kino Video, 2002). It is available on reserve at Rosenthal Library and for sale on Amazon.
- The Sealed Room (D.W. Griffith, 1909, 11 min.)
- The Unchanging Sea (D.W. Griffith, 1910, 13 min.)
- The Usurer (D.W. Griffith, 1910, 18 min.)
- His Trust (D.W. Griffth, 1911, 14 min.)
- The Musketeers of Pig Alley (D.W. Griffith, 1912, 18 min.)
- An Unseen Enemy (D.W. Griffith, 1912, 15 min.)
- The Painted Lady (D.W. Griffith, 1912, 12 min.)
- One is Business, The Other Crime (D.W. Griffith, 1912, 15 min.)
- Death’s Marathon (D.W. Griffith, 1913, 15 min.)
- The Burglar’s Dilemma (D.W. Griffith, 1912, 15 min.)
- The Girl and Her Trust (D.W. Griffith, USA, 1912, 17 min.)
- The Mothering Heart (D.W. Griffith, 1913, 23 min.)
March 7 • Formation of the Hollywood Studio System
Answer the questions for Week 5 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due March 13.
- Thompson and Bordwell, 26–31.
- Sklar, 33–85.
- Higashi, Sumiko. “The Screen As Display Window: Constructing the ‘New Woman’.” In Cecil B. DeMille and American Culture: The Silent Era, 87–117. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
- Lang, Robert. “The Birth of a Nation: Ideology and Narrative Form.” In The Birth of a Nation: D. W. Griffith, Director, edited by Robert Lang, 3–24. Rutgers Films in Print. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993.
- The Cheat (Cecil B. deMille, 1915, 60 min.)
- Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915, 190 min.)
March 14 • American Silent Comedy
D.W. Griffith and Narrative Form assignment due in class today.
No quiz this week. Study, study, study.
- Sklar, Robert. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies, 104–121. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.
- Crafton, Donald. “Pie and Chase: Gag, Narrative, and Spectacle in Slapstick Comedy.” In Classical Hollywood Comedy, edited by Kristine Brunovska Karnick and Henry Jenkins, 106–119. American Film Institute Readers. New York: Routledge, 1995.
- The Balloonatic (Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton, USA, 1923, 27 min.)
- Safety Last (Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, USA, 1923, 70 min.)
- Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton, USA, 1924, 75 min.)
- Gold Rush (Charles Chaplin, USA, 1925, 95 min.)
March 21 • Midterm Exam
We will take the midterm exam in class.
April 4 • Soviet Union and Montage
Answer the questions for Week 8 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due April 10.
- Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 6, “Soviet Cinema in the 1920s.”
- The Man with the Movie Camera [Chelovek s kino-apparatom] (Dziga Vertov, 1929, USSR, 68 min.)
- Battleship Potemkin [Bronenosets Potyomkin] (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925, USSR, 69 min.)
April 11 • French Impressionism
Answer the questions for Week 9 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due April 17.
- Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 4, “France in the 1920s.”
- The Passion of Joan of Arc [La Passion de Jeanne D’Arc] (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928, France, 81 min.)
- La Roue (Abel Gance, France, 1922, excerpts)
- Cinema Europe: The Music of Light (Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, 1995, United Kingdom)
- Paris Qui Dort [The Crazy Ray] (René Clair, France, 1925, 52 min.)
- Little Match Girl [La petite marchande d’allumettes] (Jean Renoir, 1928, France, 40 min.)
April 18 • France and the Avant-Garde
Answer the questions for Week 10 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due April 24.
- Thompson and Bordwell, 158–169.
- Hughes, Robert. “The Faces of Power.” In The Shock of the New, 45–111. Rev Sub. New York: Knopf, 1991.
- Martin, Katrina. “Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema.” Studio International 189, no. 973 (February 1975): 53–60.
- The Seashell and the Clergyman (Germaine Dulac, France, 1928, 41 min.)
- Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, France, 1929, 16 min.)
- Anemic Cinema (Marcel Duchamp, France, 1926, 7 min.)
- Cinema Pur
- Symphone diagonale (Viking Eggeling, Germany, 1925, 5 min.)
- Retour a la Raison (Man Ray, Fance 1923, 3 min.)
- Ballet Mechanique (Ferdinand Leger and Dudley Murphy, France, 1923, 19 min.)
- A Propos de Nice (Jean Vigo, France, 1930, 22 min.)
April 25 • Germany and Expressionism
Answer the questions for Week 11 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due May 1.
- Thompson and Bordwell, 87–100.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari] (Robert Weine, 1920, Germany, 78 min.)
- Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (F.W. Murnau, 1922, Germany, 94 min.)
May 2 • Germany After Expressionism
Style and Culture of National Cinema assignment due in class and on Blackboard.
Answer the questions for Week 12 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due May 8.
- The Last Laugh [Der letzte Mann] (F.W. Murnau, 1925, Germany, 90 min.)
- Pandora’s Box [Die Büchse der Pandora] (G.W. Pabst, 1929, Germany, 133 min.)
- Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927, Germany, 159 min.) (recommended)
May 9 • Hollywood in the 1920s
Answer the questions for Week 13 in the Quiz section of Blackboard, due May 15.
- Thompson and Bordwell, Chapter 7, “The Late Silent Era in Hollywood, 1920– 1928.”
- Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra (Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich, USA, 1928, 11 min.)
- The Crowd (King Vidor, USA, 1928, 98 min.)
- The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927, 88 min.)
May 16 • The Coming of Sound
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927, 94 min.)
- Photophone shorts
- Movietone shorts
May 23 • Final Exam
We will take the final exam in class, between 1:45 – 3:45 PM.