Film Studies 120 Great Directors
CourseInformation FS120: Great Directors • Lectures/Screenings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 03:00-05:05 p.m. • Professor: Lucia Ricciardelli-Silber • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • If you need to talk to me: Come to see me either at the beginning or at the end of class.
Course Description FS120: Great Directors • The course examines the role of the auteur in contemporary world cinema through the lens of celebrated directors: • Stanley Kubrick • Pedro Almodovar • Jane Campion • NanniMoretti • Quentin Tarantino
FS 120: Great Directors • Through the analysis of Kubrick, Almodovar, Campion, Moretti and Tarantino’s cinematic approaches, we will explore a wide range of film styles and movements, from classical Hollywood, to experimental, to European cinema. • By examining the ways in which these directors’ films convey meaning and elicit audience response, you will learn to assess the impact of their body of work on contemporary world cinema.
STANLEY KUBRICK “In the whole history of movies, there has been nothing like Kubrick's vision. It was a vision of hope and wonder, of grace and of mystery, of humor and contradictions. It was a gift to us, and now it's a legacy.” Steven Spielberg, 2006
STANLEY KUBRICK • Although by other filmmakers standards his output is not vast in terms of quantity - he only ever made 13 feature films – Kubrick created critically acclaimed films in a plethora of genres from science fiction to war to historical drama to comedy to horror. • Kubrick's influence on film is manifested in numerous ways, from lighting to special effects to film content to music. For example, his pioneering use of long takes have inspired cinematographers around the world.
STANLEY KUBRICK All Kubrick’s feature films from Paths of Glory (1957) to Eyes Wide Shut (1999) were nominated for at least one Golden Globe or Oscar (along with several BAFTA nominations) with the notable exception of The Shining (1980). • Kubrick's influence goes beyond that of the film world to popular culture. The content of his films have been responsible for sparking public debate. • Dr Strangelove (1964), a black comedy about an accidental nuclear war, was released at the height of the Cold War, and forced the public to reevaluate their stance.
PEDROALMODOVAR “Since Almodóvar's emergence as a transgressive underground cineaste in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he has gone on to establish himself as Spain's most important filmmaker and a major figure on the stage of world cinema.” Steven Marsh, May 2006
PEDROALMODOVAR • Pedro Almodóvar is the cultural symbol par excellence of the restoration of democracy in Spain after nearly 40 years of the right-wing military dictatorship of Francisco Franco. • It is Almodóvar's ambivalent relationship with the country of his birth (and where he has made all of his 18 feature films to date) that has proved symptomatic of the complexities surrounding the filmmaker.
PEDROALMODOVAR Whatever reaction he provokes, there is little doubt that Almodóvar rarely – if ever – inspires indifference. • The key subject matters of Almodovar’s films are: • Subversion of Identity • Sexuality • “Spanish-ness” • The Catholic Church • Urban-dwelling protagonists returning to their ancestral family homes in the country for refuge or redemption.
JANE CAMPION “Jane Campion is rapidly achieving auteur status: her black comic vision and quirky use of mise-en-scene mark her films with a distinctive personal style which hovers somewhere between surrealism and absurdism.” Blonski, 1987, page 279 .
JANE CAMPION • Jane Campion has made eight feature films to date. • She swept the board at the Venice Film Festival with Angel at My Table (1990). • International recognition followed with a Palme d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival for The Piano,which also won the best director award from the Australian Film Institute and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1994. • At the 66th Academy Awards, she was the second woman ever to be nominated best director.
JANE CAMPION Campion has often been labeled a feminist director, a label that, while not inaccurate, fails to fully capture the dilemmas of her characters and the depth of her work. • New Zealand director Jane Campion is known as one of the contemporary cinema's most distinctive personalities. • Her films depict the lives of women who are in some way outside of society's mainstream, exploring what makes these women ‘different’, and the repercussions of their refusal to conform.
NANNI MORETTI “The work of Nanni Moretti, known as Italy’s last diva for his charismatic, star-like presence, is above all the painfully honest, defiantly narcissistic, semi-fictionalized chronicle of a life in which generations of frustrated left-wing Italians regretfully recognize their own autobiographies. … To copy Moretti is to risk imitating a poet.” Deborah Young, 2002
NANNI MORETTI • It’s hard to overestimate the effect of Moretti’s work on younger Italian filmmakers who, for better or worse, have grown up as “Morettians” in search of a new film language. • Moretti offers an alternative to the one-way street of old-style Italian comedy. • All of his ten feature films, from Io Sono un Autarchico (1976) to Il Caimano – The Caiman (2006) are built on his own image and persona.
NANNI MORETTI Writer, director, producer and actor Nanni Moretti speaks to - and for - a generation of Italians through his judgmental, self-absorbed heroes. • It’s well known to insiders that Moretti was torn between calling his production company Sacher (after the Austrian chocolate cake he adores) or Water Polo Film (after his favorite sport). • This blurring of personal and professional matters colors everything he does.
QUENTINTARANTINO Quentin Tarantino “went to film school in his lounge, then unleashed the most intoxicating one-two punch in film history: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It made him cult hero, geek genius and superstar. … As a director, he’s monstrously gifted; as a writer, he’s a genius, consuming pop culture to weave his intricate dialogue spell.” Total Film, Aug 20th 2007
QUENTINTARANTINO • Though held responsible for borrowing heavily from the works of other filmmakers, Tarantino is attributed with developing one of the most exciting and original styles of filmmaking. • Quentin Tarantino is fascinated with pop culture icons and images of coolness. • The "cool gaze" is his way of shocking and undermining social conventions, of making his audiences reassess their personal values.
QUENTINTARANTINO Let me tell ya what Like a Virgin's about. It's about some cooze who's a regular fuck machine. I mean all the time, morning, day, night, afternoon, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick… dick. Then one day she meets a John Holmes motherfucker, and it's like, whoa baby. This mother fucker's like Charles Bronson in "The Great Escape." He's digging tunnels. Now she's gettin" this serious dick action, she's feelin" something she ain't felt since forever. Pain. Pain. It hurts. It hurts her. It shouldn't hurt. Her pussy should be Bubble-Yum by now. But when this cat fucks her, it hurts. It hurts like the first time. The pain is reminding a fuck machine what it was like to be a virgin. Hence, "Like a Virgin.“ Quentin Tarantino (Mr. Brown), Reservoir Dogs (1992)
QUENTINTARANTINO By imposing the "cool gaze," Tarantino makes us enjoy what would otherwise be unacceptable. • The infamous "like a virgin" monolog from Reservoir Dogs' opening scene serves, in a sense, as an exposition to Tarantino's whole body of work. • The monolog is not only a thematic exposition, but also a statement of intent — Tarantino tells us that he aims to shake (and shock) a culture that has seen everything. He is here to make the "fucking machine" once again feel "like a virgin."
FS120: Great Directors Course Requirements & Grading Information
Course Requirements & Grading Information PAPER PROPOSAL (20% of final grade) Describe in detail your final paper: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ • 1st Paragraph: choose 2 of the 5 directors covered in the course, and compare/contrast them in terms of cinematic style. • 2nd Paragraph: formulate 3/4 questions that will help you to discuss the directors’ stylistic differences and similarities, as well as the impact of their work on contemporary world cinema. • A preliminary bibliography
Course Requirements & Grading Information FINAL PAPER (40% of final grade) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ • Final Paper (8 pages): The paper should demonstrate a critical engagement with the readings and film screenings. • Paper’s Format: The paper must be in accordance with the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) or Chicago style formats, double-spaced and pages numbered.
Course Requirements & Grading Information FINAL EXAM (30% of final grade) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ • To prepare for your final exam, you need to apply knowledge and analytical abilities learned through class lectures, discussions and reading assignments.
Course Requirements & Grading Information ATTENDANCE (10% of final grade) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ • Starting on Tuesday, February 2nd, a roll-sheet will be passed out either at the beginning or at the end of each class. If your name is not on the roll-sheet, you have missed class! • It is your responsibility to remember to sign the roll-sheet each class meeting.
Observe the Due Dates • The Paper Proposal and Final Paper must be delivered in class on the assigned due dates (no emailing papers or dropping them in my mailbox!). • No exceptions other than for family tragedy or medical emergencies (w/documentation). Computer and printer problems are not an excuse. Back up your work and plan ahead. • Note: Paper Proposals and Term Papers turned in late will receive a zero.
Film Screenings • Be an active viewer: be attentive (and awake) during film screenings. • Consider films outside your normal experience and expectations as an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and appreciation of movies. • Take notes on key points of plot, form and style during and after screenings.
Class Readings COURSE WEBSITE: http://luciaricciardelli.wordpress.com/film-studies-120-great-directors • Power Point Presentations (uploaded on a weekly basis) • Online Articles • Links to Directors’ Official Websites • Interviews with the Director • Fan Websites
Class Readings • Be aware that the material posted online (e.g. power point presentations , online articles, links to directors’ official websites, interviews with the director and fan websites) is a crucial component of the course. • Set aside time well in advance of the lectures to go through - in detail and closely - the assigned readings. • This material offers insights, concepts, and terms not covered in lectures.
FS120: Great Directors Final Paper
Film Studies 120: Final Paper • You cannot simply rely on your existing knowledge when approaching essays in Film Studies. Although you will have some understanding of the area being explored, it is not enough to enable you to examine the area in depth. • Before researching your topic of interest, you should be clear about what outcomes you are hoping to achieve.
Final Paper:1. Areas of Research • Auteur’s Career History • Institutional Constraints: What are the institutional boundaries within which the auteur is working? • Auteur’s Style: What are her/his preferred stylistic conventions? • Audience Response: What is the general reception of the auteur’s body of work? Research into these aspects offers you an understanding of how your area has developed and the influences that have shaped it.
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • Primary Sources: • The Auteur’s Films • Interviews with the Auteur • The Auteur’s own writing • Keeping a diary of your data
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • Secondary Sources: • This is where you will be investigating information gathered by other people in books, newspapers, magazines, on radio and television. • Most of these sources are available in public libraries and form the majority of your research.
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • Online Sources: • Don’t necessarily assume something is a fact because someone on a website says it is. • Some websites will be “official” but many will not be, so you need to think about the authority of a site when assessing the information found on it.
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • Official Online Sources: • The structure of a website address (URL) can indicate the site’s origin and status. For example: • .eduindicates an academic/educational institution • .govindicates a government body • .org indicates a non-profit organization • .com indicates a commercial organization
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • Online Sources: • Websites sometimes disappear or shift location => keep a note of the last date that you checked the site (e.g. accessed on month/day/year).
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • The Auteur’s Film(s): • You will need to read a little about the film(s) which you plan to analyze. => having an understanding of the history and development of the film(s) which you are researching will provide a firm foundation and context for your analysis. • When you watch the film(s) make notes => concentrate on a couple of scenes which seem particularly relevant and write all of this information up so that you can refer to it when you need to.
Final Paper:2. Types of Research • Theory: • You need to demonstrate that you have read different theorists that write about the auteur under consideration. • In so doing, you will be able to develop your own opinion based on acquired knowledge and understanding.
Final Paper:3. Using Research • Organizing your Research: • Before rushing to the library or web search engines, the first stage of research is to plan two things: • When are you able to do your research? • How are you going to organize the information gathered?
Final Paper:3. Using Research • Applying your Research: • Always return to the specific questions being asked of the auteur and his/her films. • Do Not throw the collected info at the page, hoping to score points for quantity => the art of good research is how you use it as part of your evidence for an analysis of the text.
Final Paper:3. Using Research • Listing your Research: • List all of your sources (whether “quoted” within the essay or not) at the end of your work. References are usually written in this way: • Len Masterman, Teaching About Television (London: Macmillan, 1980). • Manuel Alvarado and Bob Ferguson, “The Curriculum, Media Studies and Discursivity”, Screen, Vol.24, No.3, May-June 1983.
Final Paper:3. Using Research • Listing your Research: • The auteur’s films referred to in detail should be listed, with relevant information (director, title, production company and date of release): • NanniMoretti, Caro Diario – Dear Diary (Sacher Film, 1993)
Film Studies 120 Great Directors
Auteur Theory AUTEUR= author in French. ~~~ Cahiers du Cinéma • Auteur Theory = theory of filmmaking in which the director is viewed as the major creative force in a motion picture. • Arising in France in the late 1940s, Auteur Theory was principally advanced in Bazin’s periodical Cahiers du Cinéma (founded in 1951).
Auteur Theory Nouvelle Vague (or French New Wave) ~~~ François Truffaut & Jean-Luc Godard • Auteur Theory was a foundation stone of the French cinematic movement known as the Nouvelle Vague (= New Wave in French). • Auteur theorists François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard became major directors of the French New Wave.
Auteur Theory • Although the director is considered the most likely member of the filmmaking team to be the author of a film, this does not mean that every film director should be considered an auteur. • The director as auteur should be considered the exception rather than the rule.
Auteur Theory John Caughie (ed.) Theories of Authorship: A Reader (London: Routledge, 1981) This is an invaluable collection of articles documenting the stages in the formation of auteur theory. • Generally speaking, the question of authorship is important in every art form for reasons of: • Intellectual property rights • The art market • Artist’s status and identification