Film history from the introduction of sound through the late 1950s. Focuses mostly on the golden age of the Hollywood studios and on alternative developments after World War II in Italy (Neo-Realism), France (the New Wave), and Japan.
The period 1930 to 1960 stretches from the beginnings of film sound to the birth of a new kind of cinema with the emergence of various national “new waves.” These thirty years were scarred by political and social upheaval including the Great Depression, World War Two and anxieties fueled by the Cold War. We will learn how to frame the films within their historical context, demonstrating how these events manifested themselves on the screen. With Europe in turmoil, directors fled across the Atlantic to recreate themselves in Hollywood, bringing with them new styles and techniques. Taking the representative works of these three decades we will trace formal, thematic and generic patterns across geographical borders, as we follow the various cultural transfers that occurred during this period of massive unrest. In doing so we will become familiar with major national film trends of the period including German Expressionism, French poetic realism, the postwar European documentary, Film noir and Italian Neo-realism. Readings, lectures and assignments (including a midterm and final exam) are designed to facilitate your engagement with both primary and secondary critical sources.