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Culture and Crisis (Level 5)


Module description

In this module we explore the shared but also distinctly different experience of World War II and its aftermath in four different cultural contexts: France, Germany, Italy and Japan. We focus particularly on the way in which film, both at the time and in retrospect, has served as a medium in which to engage with experiences of war, trauma, resistance and recovery. You will learn how cultural artefacts can engage with and facilitate our understanding of these topics and explore how this can happen differently across different cultural contexts.

Indicative syllabus

War: how the experience of war has been represented in our four cultural contexts

  • Bernhard Wicki, Die Brücke/The Bridge (1959)
  • Roberto Rossellini, Paisan (1946)
  • Nagisha Oshima, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
  • Rachid Bouchareb, Days of Glory (Indigènes, 2006)

Resistance: how film has represented various kinds of resistance to authoritarian regimes

  • Frank Beyer, Nackt unter Wölfen/Naked Amongst Wolves (1963)
  • Roberto Rossellini, Escape by Night (1960)
  • The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (Yuki Yukite Shingun, Hara Kazuo, 1987)
  • Jean-Pierre Melville, Army of Shadows (L’Armée des ombres, 1969)

Recovery: how the aftermath of WW2 has found filmic representation

  • Wolfgang Staudte, Die Mörder sind unter uns/The Murders are Among Us (1946)
  • Vittorio De Sica, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970)
  • Yasuzo Masumura, Giants and Toys (Kyojin to gangu, 1958)
  • Marcel Ophüls, The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la pitié, 1969)

Memory: how memory of the trauma of WW2 has been represented in film

  • Michael Verhoeven, Das schreckliche Mädchen/The Nasty Girl (1990)
  • Vittorio Taviani and Paolo Taviani, The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982)
  • Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu, 2013)
  • Louis Malle, Au revoir, les enfants (Goodbye, children, 1987)

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand how the experience of World War II and its aftermath has manifested differently in different cultural contexts
  • understand the way in which film can illuminate these experiences, particularly in relation to war, trauma, resistance and recovery
  • appreciate some of the complexities of working with cultural artefacts from more than one cultural context
  • be able to employ a range of skills to analyse films.