Thursday, August 2, 2007

Film History Class

Hey Dudes,

welcome to my first post on the Provonian.

I could use some help from the cinephiles among you, and also from Holmes. I'm getting ready for my next film history class at the high school. This time around, I'm structuring it more or less chronologically, by different film movements. The class will be 65 minutes a day for 12 weeks, so we'll probably watch two films a week for each category, along with a bunch of clips. Here's a tentative outline:

1. Early Cinema
2. Silent Comedies
3. Expressionism (germany, etc.)
4. Futurism (Russia, etc.)
5. Experimental, Surrealism
6. The coming of sound, Classical Hollywood
7. WWII/Film Noir
8. Documentary
9. Animation
10. Neorealisms
11. New Waves
12. American Independents
13. rebirth of the blockbuster

A lot to cover in one class, I know. I'd like to have a mix of the usual suspects (Citizen Kane, Hitchcock, Bicycle Thieves, etc.) and some stuff they've never heard of that will knock their socks off. What suggestions do you folks have for these categories, either entire films or specific clips?


  1. Dang, I'm totally guilty as charged. It's not that I'm a cinephobe, but I doubt I have seen any films that would fit into many of those categories. Sorry, I'm kind of worthless here. I did e-mail this post to friend in my ward who is into film and to Hubbel so hopefully you can get feedback from them.

  2. Actually, Holmsie, it's precisely because of your ignorance that I value your opinion, since I'd like to have a few films that will appeal to anyone no matter how much they're into film history.

    Here's a brief summary to the categories:

    Early Cinema: films before they knew much about closeups and editing.

    Silent Comedies: Emphasis on action rather than dialogue. Chaplin and Keaton especially, but looney toones and tom&jerry fit the bill.

    Expressionism: not trying to look realistic. purposefully exaggerated sets, costumes, acting. big emphasis on set design. i.e. early horror movies, tim burton, blade runner, amelie

    Futurism: film as propaganda, glorifying industry, communism, or even the power of wind.

    Experimental: not trying to tell a story, more like poetry. nowadays most music videos.

    Classical Hollywood: big stars, big sets. Musicals, Gone with the Wind, etc.

    Film Noir: Focuses on crime, darkness, flawed characters.

    Neorealism: Not a documentary, but feels like it would be "based on a true story". Usually low budget, shot on location, deals with poverty or social issues, often handheld camera. Modern examples: Saving Private Ryan, The Office.

    New Waves: breaking cinematic rules. usually a more youthful feel, modern, not based on literature.

    Blockbuster: goes with the idea of if you spend a lot of money you'll make a lot of money. This summers top budgeted and top grossing films: Spiderman3, Shrek3, Pirates3.

    So that should give you an idea of how some things might fit in.

    And also any foreign films you think are a must see.

  3. From the Italians, there's always, "Roma, Cittá Aperta", in the WWII/Noir genre. I saw it and thought it was really weird, but in a good sort of way (Fellini was one of the writers, apparently). It has some freaky torture scenes in it, I think, which might be kind of cool.

    And the classic Cinema Paradiso, which is awesome.

    And now I'm all tapped out, besides the obvious italian ones like "Il Postino" and "La Vita è bella..."

  4. Try "Not One Less." It's Chinese, about rural education, and really touching in a non-cheesy way.

  5. This comment might be too late to be of any use to you, Brandie, but I thought I'd add a few movies I like a lot.
    For documentary, don't you love Spell bound? That really is my favorite. I also love the 7 Up series and Martha and Ethel--the documentary about the two nannies.
    For foreign films, Umbrellas of Cherbourg is spectacular!