Evolution of Cinema as Art II

Home/ Evolution of Cinema as Art II
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2FS1084

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Vebhuti Duggal and team

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites : Evolution of Cinema as Art I.

Course Objectives/Description:

This course aims to continue with the structure laid out in ECA-I. It is a progressive course, that lays out a schema for world cinema across ECA I and II. While working chronologically and in terms of regions across the world, it nevertheless draws strands of dis/continuity across movements, cinema styles, film language etcetera. The course intends to continue with the grounding that began in ECA I with a canonical Euro-American history of cinema. It extends this to other national contexts and ‘art cinemas’ from across the world. Along with the historical study of cinema, we will be also considering some canonical and theoretical writing on cinema as it ties into the different moments. Some of the key theories and debates, which began in the 1950s and 60s we will be engaging with include: genre, auteur, melodrama among others.

For students to (a) gain familiarity with a sense of the larger debates in film form and a sense of film form historically, in different spaces and across film movements (b) to be able to deploy these debates through the course of their research, particularly as they build towards the MA dissertation requirement in the fourth semester. Thus, it hopes to also impart research-related skills and the ability to communicate ideas that inhere in cinematic expression effectively. It is also important for students to be able to develop ideas on Indian cinema in relationship to a broader field of film studies concepts as well as understand traditions of cinema in a relational mode.

Course Outcomes:

Enable students to understand historical and theoretical ways of thinking about cinema. Thus, producing disciplinary knowledge of film studies. The course will form part of the core courses for MA Film Studies. It aids, thus, in the building of disciplinary knowledge and in this it is central to the very foundational discourses and debates of the programme.

Further, it allows for the instilling of (i) critical thinking and (ii) analytical reasoning, especially across various kinds of materials (texts (secondary, primary) and films).

Given that this course engages with cinema in relationship to regional, national and transnational cinemas, it allows for multicultural competence.

This course allows for an engagement with a variety of transnational forms of cinema, prompting discussions of various aesthetic values and an appreciation thereof.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This course taken as a whole maps different key film movements from across the world. Thus, it works with 4 modules divided into three weeks each, looking at major film movements across international cinema.

Module I looks at Hollywood, bringing in a discussion on Classical Hollywood Cinema, ‘new’ Hollywood, and indie cinema. Key themes for discussion: (i) development of CHC (ii) film genre: melodrama (iii) industry and production (iv) race, gender, class on screen (corresponding to particular films)

Modules II - IV take us to various key directors and moments, movements in world film history. Through the course, across all the modules there will be an emphasis on debates such as ‘world cinema’, the idea of the film festival, ‘arthouse/ art cinema’ and the ‘auteur.’ Further, genres like melodrama, realism, and categories such as race, gender and sexuality that are raised will also be discussed. Thus, the course works through these key terms across different film movements, which in film theory have usually been associated with the region/country they originate from.

Key themes for discussion for Module II: (i) ‘Art’ Cinema and the ‘new waves’ across Europe (ii) What is an ‘auteur’? and film criticism (iii) Film festivals, cinephilia (iv) Gender on-screen and off (v) Producing in ‘alternative’ ways/ non-industrial production (vi) Melodrama transformed through race.

Key themes for discussion for Module III: (i) Formal experimentation: political cinemas and poetic strategies (iii) Realism’s enduring legacies (iv) What is ‘World Cinema’?

Key themes for discussion for Module IV: (i) re-engaging film festivals, auteurs, ‘world cinema’ (ii) melodrama revisited: memory, history, nation (iii) new formal experiments: ecologies of the city and the forest

Assessment Details with weights:

Mid-term exam (may be take home or in-class): 35%

End-term paper: 35% (25 + 10)

The final paper (not exceeding 3000 - 3500 words including notes and references) will be due at the end of the semester. This includes abstract and annotated bibliography building towards the final paper to be submitted 45 days before the final submission (10% of the total grade).

In-class presentation: 30%

Reading List:

Reading and screening** List, week-wise

Note: ** Screenings are in-class, collective exercises that are necessary along with readings and discussions. Individual films may as listed here may be changed by the course instructor, if necessary so long as they speak to the key concerns that each module highlights.

Week I / Course overview and Introduction, and ECA I recap

No readings

Screening: The 400 Blows (dir. Trauffaut, 1959)/ TBC

Module I: Hollywood, 1950s onward

Week II/ Classical Hollywood Cinema


David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson. Classic Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge, 2005 (1985), **.

Steve Neale, Genre and Hollywood. London/New York: Routledge, 2000, **.

Screening: Mildred Pierce (dir. Michael Curtiz, 1945)

Week III/ ‘New’ Hollywood


Thomas Elsasser et al (Eds) The Last Great American Picture Show: New Hollywood Cinema in the 1970s. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2004, 9 - 18, 37 - 70.

John Thurman, “Citizen Bickle or the allusive Taxi Driver: Uses of intertextuality” in Senses of Cinema, issue 37, October 2005. Available at

Screening: Taxi Driver (dir. Scorsese, 1975)

Week IV/ ‘indie’ contra Hollywood

Geoff King, American Independent Cinema. London: IB Taurus & Co, 2004, **.

Emanuel Levy, Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film. New York: New York University Press, 1999, **.

Screening: BlacKkKlansman (dir. Spike Lee, 2018)

Additional references:

American ‘Extreme’ cinema dossier:

Module II: Film movements around the world I: European ‘Art Cinema’ and the ‘Auteurs’

Week V/ French New Wave

Richard Neupert, A History of the French New Wave Cinema. University of Wisconsin Press, 2007, **.

Francois Trauffaut, “What do critics dream about?” in The Films in my Life. Trans. Leonard Mayhew. New York: Touchstone Book, 1985, pp. 3 - 16.

Jill Forbes, “Gender and Space in Cleo de 5 a 7” in Studies in French Cinema Vol 2, no. 2, 2002, pp. 83 - 89.

Screening: Cleo de 5 a 7 (dir. Varda, 1961)

Week VI/Re-thinking the ‘European’ wave(s): co-productions, subtitling


Mark Betz, Beyond the Subtitle: Remapping European Art Cinema. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009, **.

Screening: RoGoPaG (dir. Godard, Pasolini, Rossellini, Gregoretti, 1962) or Le Mempris (dir. Godard, 1963)

Week VII/ ‘New’ German cinema


Robert C. Reimer, “A Comparison of Douglas Sirk’s All that Heaven Allows and R. W. Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul; or How Hollywood’s New England Dropouts Became Germany’s Marginalized Other.” Literature/Film Quarterly 24.3 (1996): 281-87.

Shohini Chaudhuri, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974): An Anatomy of Racism,” in Jeffrey Geiger & R. L Rutsky, ed. Film Analysis: A Norton Reader. New York, London: WW Norton & Company: 2005, 641-659.

Screening: Ali, Fear eats the Soul (dir. Fassbinder, 1974)

Module III: Film movements around the world II: ‘World Cinema’ and its auteurs

Week VIII/ Political Cinemas from Latin America


Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino, “Towards a Third Cinema” (to be accessed at

Julio Garcia Espinosa, “For an Imperfect Cinema” (to be accessed at

Glauber Rocha, “The Aesthetics of Hunger” (to be accessed at

Screening: La Hora de los Hornos part I (dir. Solanas and Gettino, 1968) or Memorias del Subdesarrollo (dir. Alea, 1968)

Week IX/ ‘Ozu and the poetics of cinema’


Alastair Phillips and Julian Stringer (Eds) Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts. London/ New York: Routledge, 2007, 1 - 24, 112 - 123.

Scott Nygren, Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the unfolding of History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, **.

Screening: Tokyo Story (dir. Ozu, 1956)

Week X/ Iranian Realism?

Hamid Dabashi, Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future. London/ New York: Verso, 2001, pp. 1 -32.

Shohini Chaudhuri and Howard Finn, “The open image: poetic realism and the New Iranian cinema” in Julie Codell (Ed) Genre, Gender, Race and World Cinema. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007, pp. 388 - 407.

Screening: Zang-e-Tafri (dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 1972)/ Takhte-Siah (dir. Samira Makhmalbaf, 2000)

Module IV: Film movements around the world III: New formations, c. 1985 - present

Week XI/ Chinese cinema (Vth/VIth generations)


Valerie Jaffee, ‘Bringing the World to the Nation: Jia Zhangke and the Legitimation of Chinese Underground Film’, Senses of Cinema, issue 32, July 2004 at

Ning Ma, “Signs of angst and hope: history and melodrama in Chinese fifth-generation cinema,” Screen, Vol 44, no. 2, Summer 2003, pp. 183-199.

Tan Ye, "From the Fifth to the Sixth Generation: An Interview with Zhang Yimou," Film Quarterly, Vol 53, No. 2 (Winter 1999-2000), pp. 2-13.

Screening: Still Life (dir. Jia Zhanke, 2006)

Week XII/ City, memory, history: the case of Hong Kong Cinema


Akbar Abbas, Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, **.

Rey Chow, "Sentimental Returns: On the Uses of the Everyday in the Recent Films of Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-wai," in New Literary History, Volume 33, Number 4, Autumn 2002, pp. 639-654.

Screening: In the Mood for Love (dir. Wong kar Wai, 1997)

Week XIII/ ‘New Asian’ winners in the festival circuit


David Teh, “Itinerant Cinema: The Socialist Surrealism of Apichatpong Weerasethakul” in Third Text, Vol 25, issue 5, 2011, pp. 595 - 609. Available at


Screening: Uncle Boonmee Who can Recall His Past Lives (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)

Additional references:

Erin Manning, “Introduction.” Nocturnal Fabulations: Ecology, Vitality and Opacity in the Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasathakul, edited by Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski. London: Open Humanities Press, 2017, pp. Available at

May Adadol Ingawanij and David Teh, “Only light and memory: the permeable cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul” in Seismopolite: A Journal of Arts and Politics, 2011. Available at

Week XIV/ Conclusion
No readings, wrap-up discussions in class.