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Film and Politics


Module description

Taking the interrelationship between film and politics as its central theme, the course organises its materials around the phenomenon of fascism, a dominant twentieth-century experience within each of the four cultures on which it primarily focuses: France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Dividing its material into a variety of cross-cultural sections, including politics and the cinematic avantgarde, representing the Holocaust, resisting fascism, film and trauma, representing the past and new politics, the course aims to help you investigate: a) the ways in which film can reflect on political developments both as they happen and in retrospect; b) how film can itself become a political instrument and whose purposes it can serve; c) how film can help to redefine the political.

The course also aims to help you understand the relationship between individual films and the time and place of their production and to develop your film analytical skills.

Indicative module content

  • Politics and the Cinematic Avantgarde: Luis Buñuel, Un perro andaluz / Un chien andalou (1929)
  • Proto-Fascism: Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) and Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935) in the light of Siegfried Kracuer’s Mass Ornament (1927); Jean Renoir, The Rules of the Game (1939)
  • Representing the Holocaust: Frank Bayer, Jakob the Liar (1974) and Roman Polanski, The Pianist (2002)
  • Resisting Fascism: Joris Ivens, The Spanish Earth (1937) and Víctor Erice, The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
  • Film and Trauma: Roberto Rossellini, Germany Year Zero (1948) and Wolfgang Staudte, The Murderers Are Among Us (1946); Alain Resnais, Night and Fog (1935)
  • Remembering the Past: Pedro Almodóvar, Bad Education (2004); Rainer Werner Fassbinder, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979); Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
  • New Politics: Federico Fellini, La Dolce Vita (1960) and Luchino Visconti, Rocco and his Brothers (1960); Uli Edel, The Baader-Meinhof Complex (2008); Ferzan Özpetek, Hamam: The Turkish Bath (1997)