Topics in Film Studies: Wanderers and Vagabonds in Cinema
Hobos, gypsies, tramps, midnight cowboys, flaneurs and flaneuses, dispossessed prostitutes—wandering figures have inhabited film narratives for as long as movies have been made. Why have these marginal subjects been so enticing to the popular imagination and to the cinema? Is it because they represent our deepest desires to be free and to escape civilization and its societal constraints? The course will take off from these overarching questions. From Charlie Chaplin to Agnes Varda, from Federico Fellini to Alfonso Cuaron, we will explore the different facets that vagabonds and wanderers take on in the cinema, and the political, social, spiritual, and existential significance that these figures assume for each filmmaker. We will journey through the city, the wilderness, the road, the past and the future, exploring the American Dream, questioning the foundations of civilization itself, and traveling into our collective imagination, into drug-induced hallucinations, and long-forgotten memories. The films discussed will include Easy Rider, The Motorcycle Diaries, Into the Wild, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.