French 41 
French Film and Culture; 1895-present

Tuesday/Thursday 1-3:50pm                     

Course description:
This is a survey course of French cinema, from the early silent films first shown in 1895 to today’s contemporary films.  We cover important periods and movements in French filmmaking including poetic realism, Nouvelle vague (New Wave), and postwar mode rétro (inspired by the past).  Since French film, as in all national cinemas, is deeply tied to its country’s history and culture, we will also discuss the socio-historical backgrounds in which these films were made when appropriate.

Course requirements: 
The following components make up your final grade…

*Participation in class discussion: 15%
*2 short papers (4-5 pages): 45%  (first paper 20%, second paper 25%)
*Final exam (blue book exam): 20%

*Postings to ecampus bulletin board: %10
*In-class presentation: %10  (includes a brief handout and resources to accompany the week’s film and questions to prompt class discussion—see handout)

Course Expectations:
I expect you to come to class on time and prepared: the course doesn’t work if nobody has seen the film.  Please come see me or send an email if you have questions about your writing or about the topics covered in class.  Free writing tutoring is available by appointment at Covel Commons.
View the Tuesday films over the weekend. We will view the Thursday films in class unless otherwise noted.

Week 1:  Introduction, the silent films of Georges Méliès and Louis Lumière.

Tuesday: The two traditions of cinema.  Review basic cinema terminology for analysis. 

Read: Excerpts from Film Art –chapters 2 and 3

Thursday:  Silent film and early sound: the foundations of (French) cinema

  • Feuillade Les Vampires (excerpts)
  • La Souriante Mme Beudet and cinematic Impressionism
  • Surrealists, L’Age d’or (1930)

Read: Dudley Andrew, “Impressionism and Surrealism” in Mists of Regret

Week 2:  The 1930s: the politics of culture: The Popular Front & class consciousness in France



Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936) Jean Renoir

Read: Excerpt from Faulkner (58-71), Renoir, My Life and My Films: “The Popular Front”

Thursday:  1930s and “Poetic realism”: defining a tricky term

Quai des brumes (1938) Marcel Carné

Read: Chapter 6 Film Art “Mise-en-scène", Mists of Regret excerpts

Week 3:  The Occupation and Recovery: Negotiating a new culture of qualité

Le Corbeau (1943) Henri-Georges Clouzot

The Occupation’s effects on the French cinema; Andre Greven and Continental Films

Read: Alan Williams “War and Occupation” in Republic of Images

Thursday: Paper 1 due (4-6 pages)

La Ronde (1950) Max Ophuls

Read: “A Certain Tendency of French Cinema” (François Truffaut), Alan Williams, “Liberation” and article on La Ronde           


Week 4: The New Wave—what is it, where did it come from and what did it do for French cinema?

Touchez pas au Grisbi (1954) Jacques Becker

Read: Jacques Siclier, “New Wave and French Cinema”, Articles on Grisbi

Thursday: Cléo de 5 à 7 (1961) Agnès Varda

Read: Janice Mouton “Agnes Varda’s Cleo in the City”


Week 5:  La mode rétro:  living in the past, owning up to the present

Lacombe Lucien (1974) Louis Malle

Read: Landscapes of Loss chapter on Louis Malle

Thursday: The Sorrow and the Pity (to be finished over the weekend)

Readings to be announced/handout in class


Week 6:  French cinema today: beyond Amélie

La Fille seule/A Single Girl (1995)
Read: Review

Paper 2 due

Before the Final:  Watch Swimming Pool (2003) François Ozon
Read: Interview with Ozon, movie review