Survey of Styles in American and World Cinema
Our goal is to study films that tell their stories in an unconventional way, offering us different models for our storytelling. Our list of films is a list of American and World cinema from the 1950s to as recently as 2010. We will examine these films to study how the core elements of dramatic storytelling-- a protagonist in a situation who undertakes a story purpose that engenders conflict and complications-- are deployed in these different storytelling styles and how we can enrich our own approach. We will also compare traditional and modern approaches to film storytelling in general. This means we will especially note how films are visualized, noting the use of elements that we may overlook as screenwriters who sometimes think more about plot and dialogue than about pictures, image-flow, sound and movement in general. This will also lead us to think more about how time and space and mood are used; elements that are critical to the realization and visceral impact of the film-story as dream, even though they are not explicitly narrative elements. A tentative film list follows: Virdiana (Buñuel, Spain/France), The Conformist (Bertolucci, Italy), Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France), Talk to Her (Almodovar, Spain), Minnie and Moskowitz, (Cassavetes, USA), Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen, USA), Like Water for Chocolate (Alfonso Arau, Mexico), Tokyo Story (Ozu, Japan), Blue (Kieslowski, Poland/France), 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Mungui, Romania), Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, Mexico), The Dark Knight (Nolan, U.S.A.) The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, USA), Time of the Gypsies (Kusturica, Serbia), Xala (Sembene, Senegal), The Big Lebowski (Cohen Bros., USA).
Images of the Other in Film
Foremost in this course will be an analysis of Black stereotypes that have recently appeared in American films and television-- and the manner in which those stereotypes have reflected the nation’s social/political attitudes and outlooks on race and gender during specific periods. The course will also explore the unique "personal statements" and "star personas" of such screen artists as Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Paul Robeson, Ethel Waters, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as the work of African American Directors such as Oscar Micheaux and Spike Lee. The films studied will include THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), SHOW BOAT (1936), CABIN IN THE SKY (1943), INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1949), PINKY (1949), THE DEFIANT ONES (1958), IMITATION OF LIFE (1959), SUPER FLY (1972), THE COLOR PURPLE (1985), DRIVING MISS DAISY (1989), NEW JACK CITY (1990), GHOST (1990), TO SLEEP WITH ANGER (1990),DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991), THE LETHAL WEAPON SERIES, BOOMERANG (1992), as well as various television series.