This course surveys distinctive films and moments in the history of cinema over a period of three decades. The period spans transformations in technology (the advent of sound, color, cinemascope), genres (biblical epics, melodrama, film noir), institutions (the consolidation of the studio system, the birth of new national cinemas), and trends (French poetic realism, Italian Neo-realism).
Where possible, we will trace the influence of movies across national borders. We will situate developments within a broader atlas of historical events, and geographical areas: the buildup to World War II and its aftermath, the impact of anti-colonial movements in the formation of new nation-states in non-Western parts of the world, and the consolidation of new national film industries in these parts. Our aim will be to acquire some comparative sense of often complex and simultaneous developments in films, styles, and film industries in multiple locations during this period.
Course structure: This course is organized to prioritize topics (changes in technology, genre, emerging forms of realism, documentary cinema) rather than national origin.