From the silent era to the talkies: the transformation of cinema

Course Dates: 06/05/22 - 10/06/22
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
By the end of the 1920s cinema had reached a peak of creativity with films such as Sunrise which it was thought the 'talkies' might undermine. But the late 20s and early 30s saw a flourishing of imagination in the use of sound in films like M, and sparkling dialogue in films such as Trouble in Paradise. Explore the world of silent cinema and early sound film through these and other landmark films.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £54.00

Course Code: HF203

Fri, eve, 06 May - 10 Jun '22

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online film studies course looks at silent cinema in the 1920s, key critical accounts of its achievements, and the subsequent transition to sound. It will consider early experiments with sound in the late 1920s and early 1930s in both its expressive, non-naturalistic use and in its use for dialogue (the 'talkies') - though in fact many films incorporated both uses.

The course explores a range of key concepts in silent and early sound cinema, such as expressionism, montage, realism, theories of sound, and debates around how sound was to be used. It will also consider the films and filmmakers that have come to define the cinema of this period. The tutor will provide a full list of films at the start of the course though the following will be featured: The Last Laugh (F. W. Murnau, 1924), Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925), The General (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, 1926), Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927), Sunrise (F. W. Murnau , 1927), Blackmail (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929), M (Fritz Lang, 1931), City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931), Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932), Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932). The tutor will provide notes for each session and no prior reading is required though you may wish to consider: The Film Till Now by Paul Rotha/Richard Griffith (various editions) - a classic text recently reprinted - though this is absolutely not essential.

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.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

• Themes and concepts in the study of silent and early sound film
• Debates around the introduction of sound
• Key films and filmmakers of the period
• Key areas of development in cinema of the period
• Film history.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Identify and evaluate key themes and concepts in cinema of the 1920s and early 1930s (e.g., film style and technique)
• Evaluate debates around the introduction of sound
• Identify and evaluate key films and filmmakers of the period
• Identify and describe key areas of development in cinema of the period
• Assess cinema of the period 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 (see the reading and films mentioned above) but this is not essential.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No costs.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, culture & writing/film studies.

Jon Wisbey

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.