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Cinema with a Cause: The Message Movies

ENGL 292.900
instructor(s):
R 4:30-7:40

This course will take a close look at some of the best of American cinema. Films from the 1930's to the 1980's will be discussed. Films can move us, challenge our thinking and indeed expose us to sides of the American experience that would otherwise remain forever alien. Many directors have seen this medium as an appealing canvas upon which they can illuminate their ambitious artistic visions. We will strive to probe each film's oftentimes subtle beauty, emerging with a firm understanding of the historical period in which it was made. We will not only "look" at films; we will focus on the industry as a whole as well. Are films today getting better or worse? Do advances in technology strengthen cinema? What about the issue of colorization? Is the director still the main visionary behind a work or has he/she been superannuated by other forces and imperatives? These as well as other trenchant questions concerning the health and wealth of American cinema will be addressed. This a valuable course for screenwriters, actors, directors, producers and those who are "lovers of movies." As we probe each film along lines that the average viewer often fails to observe, we will discover that much lies beneath the surface.

Students will see the films at home on their own VCR's and come to class ready to discuss them. Actual scripts will be looked at. Clip sequences will be screened in class.

Possible films shown include: CHINATOWN, I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, THE KING OF COMEDY, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALBERTO GARCIA, THE WILD BUNCH, PSYCHO, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE, THE GODFATHER I AND II, DRUGSTORE COWBOY, BLADE RUNNER, BIGGER THAN LIFE, THE CHINA SYNDROME and THE STEPFORD WIVES.