|Module Title||ASPECTS OF AMERICAN FILM|
|Co-ordinator||Mr Clive Meachen|
|Course delivery||Seminars / Tutorials||10 Hours 10 x 1 hour seminars|
|Practical||30 Hours 10 x 3 hour viewing sessions|
|Lecture||10 Hours 10 x 1 hour lectures|
Unit 1 - Hitchcock and the auteur theory
1. Rear Window
It may be argued that film is essentially a collaborative art, but the issue of authorship remains a vital one. The success and failure of auteur analysis will be examined, together with a series of primary questions about the nature of film as an art form. Hitchcock's films are in many ways about the responsibilities inherent in the act of looking. In this sense, he foregrounds the problematics of the cinematic experience. While insisting that the camera invents rather than reflects reality, Hitchcock also provides a rigorous examination of that act of invention, laying bare its many dangers.
Unit 2 - Genre theory: The Western
3. The Searchers
4. Heaven's Gate
What is a genre? The Western is often regarded as a hackneyed form which promotes a morally schematic version of American history. This unit of the course seeks to challenge that assumption, replacing it with a sense of the extraordinary flexibility of the Western genre.
Unit 3 - American Vietnam Films
5. Apocalypse Now
6. The Deerhunter
7. Taxi Driver
To what extent are American Vietnam films really about Vietnam? To what extent are they really about America? How one-sided is the picture they present? These films will be placed alongside filmed documentaries, histories and fictions about Vietnam in an attempt to answer these questions. Similarities with the Western genre will also be discussed, together with a close reading of the differences in approach between the films that have been chosen.
Unit 4 - Versions of the American Family
8. It's A Wonderful Life
10. Blue Velvet
These films show the American family in ascendancy and in decline and both films relate their picture of the family to the maintenance or collapse of consensus reality. Yet both films require the intrusion of extra-terrestrial forces as agents of hope and progress. The status of these forces is curiously ambivalent; at one level, they are peculiarly earthbound, the angel in Wonderful Life being a projection of the values of his time, and E.T. projecting a close affinity with current notions of green politics. Despite this, both aliens possess superhuman powers which they exercise for the good of the human community. This unit of the course focusses therefore on the functions of fantasy, highlighting the covert, often duplicitous manoeuvres it employs to coerce us into uncritical acceptance of social norms and perspectives.
An extended bibliography / filmography will be given to you at the start of the course.
This module is at CQFW Level 6