Course Descriptions

Rutgers Cinema Studies Courses: Spring 2015

Cinema Studies

01:175/050:265:01              American Film Directors (Nigrin)                     TTh 5:35-6:55PM; RAB 001

screening Th 7-8PM, RAB 001

A survey course focusing on the history and development of the various American experimental cinema movements from its beginnings to the present. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films by Andy Warhol, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Sidney Peterson, Kenneth Anger, Bruce Bailie, Yoko Ono, and others. Emphasis on the “mise-en-scene,” editing, narrative form, sound, and special effects in the films of these celebrated experimental filmmakers. By the end of this course, students will understand what experimental films are and how they are made, will understand film analysis and be able to apply this understanding to other films by these and other filmmakers.

Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.

Requirements: attendance, three exams, class participation.

01:175:377:01      Global Women’s Filmmaking (Martin-Marquéz)                           M 12:00-3:00; RC 3

                                                                                                                                screening W 1:40-3, RC 3

In its “Women and Media Fact Sheet,” Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership shows that male characters comprise nearly 75% of speaking roles in major Hollywood films, and that “women are dramatically underrepresented behind the scenes in the U.S. film industry,” directing, for example, only 5% of the 250 highest grossing films in 2011. Some of the most celebrated international filmmakers, however, are women, and their works typically feature a much larger percentage of female protagonists. In this course we will study a wide variety of films from around the globe, directed by women and produced from the 1960s to the present. We will examine the local contexts out of which these films have emerged, exploring the ways in which women work to negotiate diverse cultures and film industries in order to realize their creative vision. We will also seek to place their films in critical dialogue with several currents in "Western" film theory which focus, for example, on questions of authorship and authority or the cinematographic construction of difference. Films from countries such as Argentina, Britain, China, (the former) Czechoslovakia, France, India, Iran, Martinique and Tunisia will be treated.

No prior work in film studies required; the semester will begin with a “crash course” in film analysis.

01:175:377 Bollywood/Topics in World Cinema           (Sen)                                     TTH 4, TIL 258

                                                                                                                                                screening W 6,7, TIL 258

India is the second most populous country in the world and has a cultural tradition that has evolved over 5,000 years. It is also the world’s largest film-producing nation, releasing over 900 films every year. Of these, approximately 200 films are made in Hindi in India’s film capital—Bombay. Driven by the growth and spread of the Indian diaspora in recent decades, the popular Bollywood has become a ubiquitous presence in theaters and film festivals across the globe. While remaining India’s most beloved art form, this cinema today is also India’s most visible and fascinating export. Bollywood remains an exceptional industry that has successfully resisted the onslaught of Hollywood films in the country of its birth. These and other factors have contributed in making academic exploration of Bombay cinema a relatively new, but extremely exciting field of study. What makes Hindi cinema different? How are such a staggering number of films made in India? How do these ‘song and dance’ movies challenge our perceptions of narrative forms? How do Bombay films negotiate the polarities of tradition and modernity? How do they bear the burden of postcoloniality? Despite the plethora of languages and cultures that comprise India, how does Hindi cinema maintain its hegemonic position both within the subcontinent and without? What is the status of Bollywood as a national cinema? These are some of the larger questions with which we will engage in this canopic overview.

Requirements: Short mid-term paper, longer final paper, weekly responses, in-class presentation, participation.

01:175:425:01      Seminar in Cinema Studies              (Williams)              F 1:10-5:50, SC 114

 

English-Film Studies

01: 354:201          Introduction to Film I (Belton)                                           MW 2:50-4:10, MI 100

                                                                                                                                screening M 6:10-8:30, MI 100        

This course introduces students to the basic elements of film form, ranging from mise-en-scene (lighting, framing, composition, camera movement, etc.) and editing (continuity editing, alternatives to continuity editing) to sound (diegetic, non-diegetic sound). Films to be screened include those directed by Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir, Lang, Bresson, Godard, Lee, Lynch, and others.

Requirements include two exams (a mid-term and a final), as well as two papers (one 3-5 pages; one 5-8 pages).

01: 354:202          Introduction to Film II (Martin-Marquéz)                         MW 5:00-6:20; TIL 116

                                                                                                                                screening, 6:30-8:45 TIL 116

This course presents students to some of the major modes and styles of fiction and non-fiction filmmaking, inside and outside of Hollywood. We will begin with an intensive introduction to Hollywood classical filmmaking and close textual analysis: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing and sound. This will be followed by an exploration of genre and its permutations within different cultural contexts (looking at specific examples of, for example, melodrama, the musical, and the Western). We will then explore alternatives to classical narrative filmmaking from the New Cinemas and Counter Cinema movements of the 1960s and beyond. In the last part of the semester we will consider (mostly) non-fiction filmmaking: documentary/mockumentary and experimental/avant-garde works. In addition to the U.S., films will likely be drawn from Mexico, India, France, Cuba, Senegal, Yugoslavia, Brazil, and Iran.

01:354:250           Films of Alfred Hitchcock   (Belton)                                  MW 4:30-5:50, MI 100

                                                                                                                                screening, 6:10-8:30, MI 100

A survey of the major films of the "Master of Suspense" from the silent era through the 1970s. This course looks at selected films directed by Alfred Hitchcock in terms of the director's unique moral vision. It will follow the adventures of the Hitchcock hero who, at a moment's notice, can be plunged into a world of chaos and disorder, and swept up in a cosmic fate over which he has no control. It will also look at the Hitchcock heroine, presumed guilty rather than innocent, who finds herself punished for the slightest transgression. Subjected to the ordeals of Hitchcock's suspense narratives, the hero and heroine lose their innocence and, in the process, gain knowledge of the less than perfect ways in which the world works. Their struggle for survival constitutes a modern morality tale in which Hitchcock and his cinematic technique play God.

01:354:320           World Cinema I    (Koszarski)                                            MW 1:10-2:30, MU 301

                                                                                                                                screening, M 6:10-8:30, MU 301

Where did today's cinema come from? What technological, cultural and economic factors (operating across international borders as much as inside them) transformed the "moving pictures" of the 1890s into the twentieth century's signature medium of mass communication? Charting the first half century of this development, we will study films from France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Soviet Union and Japan, without losing track of how all aspects of international cinema are unavoidably related to the situation in America. Our focus will be on the development of film form and technology, the rivalry of European and American producers for world markets, the creation of an "international style" in the late 1920s, the effects of the economic depression, and the impact on international cinema of both world wars.

01:324:356           Films of Jean Renoir & Fritz Lang (Flitterman-Lewis)  TTH 1:10-2:30, MI 100

                                                                                                                                screening, T 6:10-8:30, MI 100

This course will take an in-depth look at two of the most important directors in the history of world cinema, Jean Renoir and Fritz Lang. Renoir, son of the French Impressionist painter, was a master of what some scholars consider to be the Golden Age of French cinema, Poetic Realism of the 1930s. His fluid camera work and his use of deep space, his careful attention to popular subjects and settings of daily life, make his films strong examples of French national cinematic identity. On the other hand, Lang, noted for his meticulous precision and highly controlled narrative style, is a landmark director of both German cinema and what is known as Classical Hollywood cinema. His "unique blending of passion, detachment and irony," along with his ongoing concern for social justice have made him one of the most innovative, committed modern directors. After screening typical films of each director (eg. Lang: M, The Big Heat; Renoir: The Grand Illusion, Rules of the Game, among others) we will consider two pairs of films made by both Renoir (La Chienne, La Bete Humaine) and Lang (Scarlet Street, Human Desire) as a way of understanding "the pulse of the popular" and "the hand of fate" that characterize the respective cinematic signatures of Jean Renoir and Fritz Lang. At a time when repertory theaters are disappearing and people stream films, this course provides a unique opportunity to watch the films as they were meant to be seen, in an informative and illuminating context.

One midterm, one paper, one final, plus class participation.

01:354:360           Film Noir               (Koszarski)                                            MW 4:30-5:50, MU 301

                                                                                                                                screening, W 6:10-8:30, MU 301

More than a genre, style, period or sensibility, film noir is a critical construct applied after the fact to some of the greatest, and darkest, films of Hollywood's "golden age." But no classical era filmmaker ever set out to make a film noir or even recognized that anything especially different was happening during the height of the film noir era. We will examine noir's roots in German expressionism and French poetic realism (communicated by a generation of émigré filmmakers), and how these imported styles interacted with the hard-boiled American pulp fiction of writers like Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich. Because film noir is as much a critical movement as a body of classic films, we will also look at its defining texts, and how these provided a detailed road map for the self-conscious neo-noir cinema of the 1970s and 80s.

01:354:392           History & Memory in French Cinema World War II       TH 4:30-5:50, MU 301

                                                                (Flitterman-Lewis)                                               screening, TH 6:10-8:30, MU 301

This unique course will be of interest to students of all majors with a concern for history and culture; it will especially interest film students who want to learn about a little-studied period of French film and questions of historical representation. Recently there has been a renewed attempt to understand the complex and disturbing period in France known as the "dark years" of World War II, Vichy France and the Occupation. This course will look at daily life through the films, both popular films of the time and more current films that explore issues of memory, identity, trauma, and history. We will look at films of the period and those preceding it in the heady days of the Popular Front; we will then consider current films (and those of more recent decades) as they grapple with the horrors of persecution and deportation, of fascism, of appropriation and anti-semitism, of popular attitudes that supported the oppression and those of the resistance. Our perspective will benefit from an emphasis on the lives of children, different notions of the family, new definitions of resistance, and personal accounts (either memoirs or contemporary writing). The crucial moment of this history is the 1942 roundup of Jewish families and their week-long imprisonment in the Winter Cycling Stadium (Vel d'Hiv), before being sent to Auschwitz, providing the Germans with the first trains of the Final Solution. Roselyne Bosch's epic film, La Rafle (The Roundup) will be our starting point, and we will screen documentaries, fiction films, and films that combine the two methods, among them Marcel Ophuls's Hotel Terminus, Louis Malle's Lacombe Lucien (screenplay by new Nobel Laureate Patrick Modiano) and Au Revoir Les Enfants, Claude Chabrol's Story of Women, and Alain Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour. These are just a few of the amazing, thought-provoking films that will be screened.

A midterm, one paper, a final exam, and class participation.

01:354:410           Seminar: Global Horror      (Sen)                                                     TTH 5, TIL 252                                                                                                                                                                     screening, T 7,8; TIL 252                  
The horror genre has found its determined creators, passionate followers and scornful detractors across the globe. Often derided by critics for relying on questionable aesthetics and tasteless sensationalism, horror continues to inspire animated debates. The horror genre is local as well as global: deeply rooted in specific regional myths, folklore, rituals and traditions, it simultaneously regurgitates stock images, predictable narratives and pat conclusions across cinematic traditions. In this sense, the horror genre taps into what Carl Jung famously called the "collective unconscious"—a nightmarish substratum that all of humanity is wired into. In this course we will interrogate precisely this conundrum—how does the horror genre work in each national/cultural context and still resonate with audiences in other parts of the globe? Is fear a culturally determined response, or is there something universal about our deeply emotional response to frightening images/stories? Do audiences respond to horror in the same way everywhere, or is our response mitigated by socio-cultural and political contexts? Our ghosts, spooks, vampires, zombies, headless horsemen and serial killers will come from far-flung regions—USA, Japan, Germany, India, South Korea, Italy, Mexico, among others. We will engage with globally celebrated filmmakers such as Mizoguchi Kenji and Dario Argento to lesser-known horror producers such as the Ramsay brothers from India. The faint of heart and the squeamish be forewarned!

01:351:308:02      Experimental Filmmaking (Nigrin)                                  F 9:50-12:50, SC 119

                                                                                                                                screening, TBA

This filmmaking course has a two-pronged approach. The first is to give students hands-on filmmaking experience while learning the fundamental components of experimental film production: use of camera, lighting, editing, special effect and other techniques. The second is to screen and analyze classic experimental films.

The Pre-Production component focuses on the following elements:  preparation/research, budgeting, choosing/using materials (camera, film, etc.), pre-visualizing (benefits/pitfalls), ordering ideas, using still photography and video, location selection (inside/outside), scripting shots, costumes/sets, cast/crew selection, lighting, weather, patience, shooting economically, etc.  Throughout the course, students will develop their own image and text collage-notebooks which will assist them in realizing their own artistic and cinematic visions. Creating these collage-notebooks, or abstract storyboards, trains the students on how to assemble disparate images and information into a sequential whole (cinema).

The Production component primarily focuses on learning how to use and maintain the Super 8mm film and Digital cameras. The goal of this section is to teach students how to focus correctly on still and moving images while maintaining good shot composition (making sure everything in the frame is there for a reason). Students also will be instructed on how to read the camera’s light meter, how to do in-camera editing (pixilation) and other special effects, and how to transcend the limitations of one’s resources.

The Post-Production component primarily focuses on editing.  Each student will be instructed on how to physically assemble various pieces of film using a viewer, tape splices, and a film splicer as well as digitally.  Students will also be taught how to catalog and organize their footage to facilitate the editing process.  Finally, we will also discuss the film industry and the difficulties (both economic and ideological) of becoming an experimental filmmaker.

Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.

French

01:420:306:01           French            Film in English              (Williams)                             TTH 1:10-4:10, SC 114

                                                                                                                                            screening, TH 6:10-9 SC 114

 

Cinema-Related Courses

01:358:436              Seminar: Dickens & Film               (Sadoff)                                 MW 1:10-2:30, MU 003

What happens when Oliver Twist and Fagin dance out of the slums and into the sunset? When Gwyneth Paltrow, as Estella, strips down for Pip and chides her guardian, “for heavens sake, it’s the ‘80s”? When the South Park gang screams, shouts, and grimaces its way through Dickens’s tale? When Oliver Twist becomes graphic novel? In this seminar, we’ll read three novels by Charles Dickens and watch the films adapted from them. We will discover that Dickens was a deeply autobiographical novelist when we read what his first biographer, John Forster, called Dickens’s “Autobiographical Fragment.” We’ll read, in addition, essays on film adaptation, film languages, and literature’s relation to film; some essays on historical conditions during the times Dickens wrote; and some cultural studies work that considers Dickens’s afterlife in the postmodern Anglo-American world.

Requirements: Screenings, on reserve at the Fordham Media Center, Douglass Library; screening questions; a paper proposal, annotated bibliography, draft of first part of paper; 10-12 page research paper.

01:090:294:03      Our Vampires, Ourselves  (Sadoff)                                 MW 11:30-12:50, Brett Sem Rm.

This SAS Honors seminar will focus on vampires, parasites, and other modern vermin. Questions we will ask include: how are nineteenth-century vampires "modern"? Why have their tales lived on to "haunt" us? What kinds of social problems do they address? How does the vampire morph into an identity thief? Into a mad scientist? How, then, are vampires "ourselves"? And finally, why is movie-generated fear so much fun? 
I also hope to expose you to a wide range of films from a variety of film genres: silent movies, mainstream Hollywood cinema, and foreign art film. We will read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories, Patricia Highsmith's Talented Mr. Ripley and other modern vampire tales. We'll read about anxieties that surround New Reproductive Technologies and other scientific advances, as well as texts that unsettle our notions of modern identity. We'll watch movies by some of the following filmmakers: F. W. Murnau, James Whale, Kenneth Branagh, Francis Ford Coppola, Werner Herzog, and Pedro Alomdóvar. Requirements: attendance, screening questions, in and out of class writing, annotated bibliography, and 10-12 page research paper.

Professor Nigrin's Experimental Filmmaking class

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