From Caligari to Touch of Evil: Expressionism in the Cinema
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HF203
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
This online film studies course looks at the ways in which the expressionist film has functioned in a range of critical and production contexts, including German cinema of the 1920s, French poetic realism of the 1930s, and the American and European film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. We will consider a range of films, their production and use of the expressionist style, their critical reception, and the concept of expressionism as it applies to cinema in general. In doing so, the course will provide an account of key areas of film production at specific historical moments and their adoption of expressionism.
We will also be thinking about the appeal of expressionist cinema, both as a progressive, modernist film style, one at odds with, for example, the relative coherence of American classical cinema of the 1940s with which it has, ironically, such a close relationship in the form of the American film noir, and as a cinema of nostalgia, again, in the form of the American film noir of the 1940s and the terms in which it is understood by today's audiences.
The tutor will provide notes for the course and advise on further reading and viewing.
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?
• Expressionist film style
• German expressionist cinema of the 1920s/early 1930s, e.g., The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920), Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (F. W. Murnau, 1920)
• French poetic realism of the 1930s, e.g., Pépé le Moko (Julien Duvivier, 1937), Le Quai des brumes (Marcel Carne, 1938),
• The American film noir of the 1940s and 1950s, e.g., Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944), Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947), Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
• The European film noir of the 1940s and 1950s (including the British film noir of this period) Quai des orfèvres (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1947), They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947), Les diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955),
• National cinemas in Europe (e.g., German cinema of the 1920s, French cinema of the 1930s, British cinema of the 1940s/1950s
• The classical American film style and mode of production
• Critical accounts of expressionist cinema.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Describe expressionist film style
• Describe and assess the key features of German expressionist cinema
• Describe and assess the key features of French poetic realism
• Describe and assess the key features of the American film noir
• Describe and assess the key features of the European film noir
• Describe and assess the concept of classical American film style and mode of production
• Describe and assess the concept of national cinemas
• Asses expressionist cinema within a critical framework.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for all levels and you do not require any particular skills - just an enthusiasm for film and discussing film. The course will provide an introduction to the subject but will also be useful for those wishing to build on existing knowledge in the subject area.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Screenings of extracts from films, talks by the tutor, reading materials, small and large group discussions. It might also be a good idea to see what you can find out about the subject in advance of the class, but this is not essential.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will require a pen and paper (or laptop/device) but the tutor will provide all other materials such as handouts. The tutor will show extracts from films and you do not have to obtain them.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other film studies courses at www.citylit.ac.uk/history, culture & writing/film studies.
Jon Wisbey teaches film at City Lit and Morley College. He was for many years a committee member and vice-chair of Chelmsford Film Club, screening contemporary and classic world cinema releases. He has an MA in Film Studies from the University of East Anglia. His teaching focuses on classical and post-classical Hollywood, European cinema, British cinema, film noir and horror cinema.
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.