In "The Anxiety of Influence," Harold Bloom depicts the relationship of emerging poets to their literary forebears as one of Oedipal rivalry, deliberate misreading, and an uneasy urge to evade, complete, or obliterate. The concept of cinematic authorship has always been controversial, but there is no question that the filmed century produced a number of father figures, auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder, who continue to cast a shadow over new filmmakers in their attempts at self-definition. Beginning with the 70’s “film brat” generation of Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg, directors have increasingly acknowledged the influence of their predecessors through theft, homage and pastiche; in the work of emerging filmmakers like Baz Luhrmann, Christopher Nolan, Todd Haynes and the Coen Brothers, addressing this influence is often the primary creative stimulus.
This class will discuss such complicated impulses, and the genres in which they often play out, by examining a number of film pairings: Psycho and Dressed to Kill, Double Indemnity and The Man Who Wasn't There, The Big Sleep and Memento, Children of Paradise and Moulin Rouge!, All that Heaven Allows and Far From Heaven, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. In addition to the films, there will be a variety of critical readings; grading will be based on in-class conversation, short written exercises on each pairing, and a longer final paper.