Evolution of Cinema as Art II

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2FS1014

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Rajan Krishnan and team

Email of course coordinator:

No pre-requisites.

Course Objectives/Description:

This course focuses on how the technical invention of the possibility movement image on screen evolved into an art form capable of fictional narration. It uses key theoretical texts on early cinema and the milestone films that helped the evolution.

This course forms the basis for the structure laid out in ECA-II. It is the first part of a progressive course, that lays out a schema for the study of key world cinema debates across ECA I and II.

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.

Given that this course engages with cinema in relationship to 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.

The course aims to instill both critical thinking and analytical reasoning through an engagement with canonical readings on cinema and viewing films.

Introduces students to the study of cinema as a medium through talking about ways of seeing films and filmic analysis, thus promotes medium-specific expressions.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

See reading list below.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Response papers (40%)
  • Final term paper (30%)
  • Class participation (30%)

Reading List:


LECTURE 1 & 2- Introduction: Beginnings of Cinema

Siegfried Kracauer, “Basic Concepts” in Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997, 27-41.

CLIPS: Lumiere Films, Kinetoscope Films/ George Melies, A Trip to the Moon (1902)


LECTURE 3 & 4 - Early Cinema- Cinema of Attractions

Tom Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant Garde” in Thomas Elsaesser, ed. Early Cinema Space, Frame, Narrative. London: British Film Institute, 1990, 56-62.

Film: Edwin S. Porter The Great Train Robbery (1903)


LECTURE 5 - The Silent Film Form and Genres

Bela Balzacs, “The Close-Up”, in Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen & Leo Braudy Eds. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992, 260-267

CLIPS: D.W. Griffith The Birth of a Nation (1915)/ Intolerance (1916)

Buster Keaton Sherlock Jr (1924)

LECTURE 6- Indian Silent Cinema

Suresh Chabria, “D.G. Phalke and the Melies Tradition in Early Indian Cinema”, Kintop 2. Frankfurt am Main, 1993, 103-115.

CLIPS: D.G. Phalke Raja Harishchandra 1913/Kaliya Mardan 1919; Shivendra Dungarpur Celluloid Man (2013); Paresh Mokashi Harishchandrachi Factory (2009)

Suggested Reading: Eric Barnouw and Krishnaswamy, “Three Get Started” in Indian Film: 2nd Edition. New York, Oxford, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1980, 59-71. *


LECTURE 7&8 - Soviet Montage

Sergei Eisenstein, “A Dialectic Approach to Film Form” in Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, Edited and Translated by Jay Leyda, San Diego, New York, London: A harvest/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers: 1977, 45-63.

Suggested Reading:

Bill Nichols, “Battleship Potemkin (1926), Sergei Eisenstein: Film Form and Revolution” in Jeffrey Geiger & R.L. Rutsky, ed. Film Analysis: A Norton Reader. New York, London: WW Norton & Company, 2005, 158-177.

FILM: Sergei Eisenstein Battleship Potemkin (1927)


LECTURE 9 - German Expressionism

Siegfried Kracauer, “Caligari” in From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, Princeton University Press, 1966, 61-77.

Suggested Reading: Paul Coates, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, Jeffrey Geiger & R.L. Rutsky, ed. Film Analysis: A Norton Reader. New York, London: WW Norton & Company, 2005, 98-117.

FILM: Robert Weine The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

WEEK 6- Cinema and Mass Culture- 1

LECTURE 10 & 11

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age Mechanical Reproduction” in Illuminations

CLIPS: Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931); Modern Times (1936) The Great Dictator (1940)

WEEK 7 - Cinema and Mass Culture -2


Siegfried Kracauer, “The Mass Ornament” in The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London and England: Harvard University Press, 1995, 75-86. “The Little Shop Girls Go to the Movies” (1927)

CLIPS: Dziga Vertov Man with the Movie Camera (1929)/ Walter Ruttman Berlin Symphony of a Big City (1927)

WEEK 8 – Hollywood Genres

LECTURE 13 - Classical Hollywood

David Bordwell, “Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narrational Principles and Procedures”, in Philip Rosen, ed. Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986, 17-34.

CLIPS: Michael Curtiz Casablanca (1942); Frank Capra It’s a Wonderful Life (1946); Gone With the Wind (1939)

WEEK 9 – Documentary


Michael Renov, “The Truth about Non Fiction” in Theorizing Documentary, AFI Film Readers, New York and London: Routledge, 1993, 1-11.

CLIPS- Robert Flaherty Nanook of the North (1922) , Dziga Vertov Man with the Movie Camera (1929) , Films Division I am 20 (1967)

WEEK 10- Language of Cinema


Andre Bazin, “The Evolution of the Language of Cinema” in What is Cinema Vol.1, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California press: 1967, 23-40.

Suggested Reading: James Naemore, “Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles: The Magician and the Mass Media” in Jeffrey Geiger & R.L. Rutsky ed. Film Analysis: A Norton Reader.New York, London: WW Norton & Company, 2005, 340-360.

FILM: Orson Welles Citizen Kane (1945)

WEEK 11- Realism in Cinema

LECTURE 16 - Post War Scenario

Simona Monticelli, “Italian Post war Cinema and Neo Realism” in John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson, eds. Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press: 1998, 455-460

FILM: Roberto Rosselini Rome Open, City (1945)

WEEK 12- Realism Debates

LECTURE 17 – Influence of Neo-Realism

Andre Bazin, “An Aesthetic of Reality: Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation in What is Cinema Vol. II, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press: 1971, 16-40.

CLIPS- Vittorio De Sica Bicycle Thieves (1948) , Bimal Roy Do Bigha Zameen (1953), Satyajit Ray The Apu Trilogy (1955-1959)