Cinema and the Ancient Past: idols, artefacts and epics
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HF252
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
This short online film course will introduce students to cinema and the ancient past. Over two sessions we will explore how ancient civilisations have been portrayed in films, focusing on Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia. To help us understand the reception of cultures perceived to be the origins of ‘Western civilisation’, we will critically examine themes such as the portrayal of women, people of colour and ancient religions. Covering a range of time periods, with a focus on American and British cinema, we will trace this development from silent films to the present.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- Queens and slave girls: the depiction of women in antiquity
- Orientalism and racism
- Homoeroticism and homosexuality
- Goddesses and god(s)
Selected films to be discussed: Intolerance (1916) David and Batsheba (1951), Cleopatra (1953), The Ten Commandments (1956), Alexander the Great (1958), Solomon and Sheba (1959), Esther and the King (1960), Troy (2004), 300 (2006).
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Have an overview of how antiquity has sustained its place as a popular setting for films throughout the twentieth century
Understand how cinema portrays the past and other cultures and examine the relationship critically.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and does not assume any previous study or reading, although you will need a good grasp of English to keep up with the course. You will gain more from the course, in terms of enjoyment and learning, if you are able and willing to do some supplementary reading. As with most of our Literature, Film and Culture courses, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will be taught via online platforms (Zoom/Google Classroom) and will consist of a mixture of lecture, Q & A, pair/group and class discussion using primary and secondary sources.
The tutor will provide you with all the reading and online materials you will need via Google Classroom.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
A list of recommended reading material, films and recommended websites will be provided, but this is optional.
General recommended reading:
Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. Designs on the Past: How Hollywood Created the Ancient World. Edinburgh: University Press, 2018.
Williams, Michael. Film Stardom and the Ancient Past: Idols, Artefacts and Epics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other Film Studies courses under History, Culture and Writing/Film Studies at www.citylit.ac.uk.
Hélène Maloigne is a historian and archaeologist who received her PhD from UCL in 2020. She has 10 years' experience working as an archaeologist in Turkey and the Middle East. She has been teaching archaeology and history at UCL from 2017 and at City Lit since 2020. Her research focuses on archaeology's engagement with the public, through popular media, and how interpretations of the past influence modern and contemporary society.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.