This course is an introductory survey of classic films. Emphasis falls equally on cultural and on artistic matters: on films as anthropological and historical artifacts that articulate the values and beliefs of particular societies and on films as works of art. The course aims to sharpen students’ analytic skills, to give them a sense of the history and cultural significance of movies, and to improve their writing. The course is divided into three segments: the silent era (films by Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton and Murnau); Hollywood genres and beyond (Donen and Kelly, Hitchcock, Ford, Welles, Fosse, Altman, Malick); international masters (Renoir, DeSica, Kurosawa, Wong Kar-wai).
Writing requirements: The course satisfies the criteria for communication intensive subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Students are required to write a short (1-2 page) exercise in close reading of a scene or scenes from the silent shorts shown in the first weeks and two essays, totaling a minimum of 20 double-spaced typed pages, devoted to films studied during the term.
Exams: Three open-book take-home exams – the rough equivalent of problem sets – during the semester and a three-hour final during the exam period.