What is the course about?
We will view and explore Lynne Ramsay's impressive body of filmmaking to date: Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin and You Were Never Really Here. All her movies walk the line between art, film and entertainment. They’re immensely watchable, gripping studies of damaged people but there’s also an aesthetic, an intimate focus, a mood painted by the pictures. As a filmmaker Ramsey is uncompromising and fascinated by the tremendous power of cinema to appeal directly to the senses and awaken new depths in our audio-visual imagination. Immersive and at times almost overwhelming, Ramsay's films abound with uncommon imagery, arresting for their remarkable use of texture, composition, colour, music and sound. Ramsay thinks not in concepts but in images. She doesn't make intellectual films, but ones that are close to music, taking visuals to the point of abstraction.
What will we cover?
This course is a showcase of her films, including the three acclaimed shorts that inaugurated her career. Trained as a photographer and cinematographer, Lynne Ramsay’s films all have embedded in them a determination to let the images do all the talking. There’s often an air of magical realism about her work, as strange images puncture sombre tales of people dealing with the aftermath of death. Ramsay folds poetry and fantasy into even the most meagre of circumstances. Despite the majority of her films being adapted from novels or short stories, the feelings of her characters are rarely conveyed through dialogue. Instead, the editing and the camerawork infer everything.
Influences: Bill Douglas as a Scottish antecedent, the influence of classics such as John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence; the impact of “those films that sear images into your brain: Blue Velvet, Repulsion, Persona, Nicolas Roeg, Fassbinder. A good filmmaker can be a bit like a psychologist.”
You Were Never Really Here: shares recognisable DNA with such dirty thrillers as Taxi Driver and Death Wish. Ramsay’s location manager somehow scoped out parts of New York City that seem largely unchanged since the 1970s.
Early short films: Having studied photography at Edinburgh’s Napier College and cinematography at the National Film and Television School, she won the Prix de Jury in 1996 for her short graduation film, Smalls and Death, and again in 1998 for her third short, Gasman.
First feature film: Ratcatcher premiered in Un Certain Regard (2000) winning Special Mention.
We Need to Talk about Kevin was the only British film nominated for the Palme d’Or in official competition in 2011.
Adaptation: Ramsay’s feature films – Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin and You Were Never Really Here – are based on books; but they’re not the usual straightforward filmic translation - she writes her own scripts, is involved in every detail, from casting to location to costume.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
list the characteristics and genres of the major studios
view key clips that capture the style of each studio
link stars to the studios by detailing their speciality and their importance to that studio.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
From beginner to advanced, this one-day class is designed for all levels to view, enjoy, and discuss Hollywood cinema. It does not require any previous film study or special skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Opening presentation with film clips to stimulate discussion and knowledge exchange. Handouts to take away for further study and research.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There no other costs.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Check the film studies courses in the prospectus under Humanities or on the website: www.citylit.ac.uk under History, Culture and Writing.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details