French Cinema: Classic - Current - New Wave

Course Dates: 09/05/22 - 25/07/22
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Keeley Street
When we fall in love with French cinema it’s not only with the films but with an attitude to cinema itself. In France, cinema is taken seriously as an art rather than merely entertainment or industrial product. France invented cinema then nurtured it through surrealism, 1930s poetic realism, the New Wave, the 'cinema du look’ and nineties realism to the present day by creating a climate in which Hollywood’s narrative norms did not overwhelm. Perhaps no other country, from the earliest years of the cinema’s existence to the present day, has done so much to defend the intrinsic worth of the extraordinary medium of cinema. When you love life, you’ve just been to see a French film.
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Full fee £179.00 Senior fee £179.00 Concession £109.00

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Course Code: HF013

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Started Mon, eve, 09 May - 25 Jul '22

Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)

Call us to check if you can still join the course 020 7492 2652 (depart num)

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What is the course about?

This course will provide an overview of the high points of French cinema.
We will explore the work of key directors and look at significant films in the history of the cinema in France while considering how the French film industry continues to have an impact on the whole of cinema.

What will we cover?

- the notion of the director as author as developed in the auteur theory (la politique des auteurs).
- a range of key French directors, considered chronologically, beginning with the Lumiere brothers and Melies and ending with Olivier Assayas and Leos Carax.
- the mobile camerawork and early widescreen composition of Abel Gance’s masterpiece Napoleon (1927).
- French musicals from the early Under the Rooftops of Paris (1930 Rene Clair) to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1960 Jacques Demy), which offer a delightful alternative to Hollywood’s ownership of the genre.
- the lyricism of Jean Vigo’s visuals and the surrealism of L’Atalante (1934) which situates the film, poetically, between objective realism and subjective fantasy.
- Marcel Carne was, from 1936 - 1946, the most highly regarded of French directors with the fatalism of Le Jour Se Leve (1939) and Les Enfants du Paradis (1944).
- the French crime films of Jean-Pierre Melville, including Le Samourai (1967).
- the New Wave that changed cinema: Breathless (1960 Jean-Luc Godard) and Jules et Jim (1963 Francois Truffaut).
- Agnes Varda and the new wave
- recent reports from the banlieue (suburbs): La Haine (1995 Mathieu Kassovitz) which in turn influenced the recent Les Miserables (2019 Ladj Ly) and Gagarine (2020 Fanny Liatard/Jérémy Trouilh), a film that is pure magical realism.

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

• Distinguish the different periods of French cinema
• Identify the key films and directors from each era
• Demonstrate a basic understanding of the key developments in French cinema history.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Suitable for all levels, this course requires only an enthusiasm to learn more about the value of cinema, to discuss films, share ideas and listen to the views of others. It provides an introduction to the subject but will also be valuable for those wishing to build on existing knowledge.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Opening lecture, viewing film extracts throughout with tutor-led discussion in the whole group and in small groups/breakout rooms. No prior preparation necessary. High-quality digital 'handouts' for further research.

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

Notepad or other device to take notes. The tutor will provide links to online materials for future research.No other costs. Please bring pad or device for note taking.
Recommended (but not required) reading:
Hayward, Susan. French national cinema (Routledge, 2004).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other courses in Film Studies under, culture and writing/film studies.

John Wischmeyer

John Wischmeyer (MA in Film Theory) set up, ran and programmed his own cinema in West London and has since taught film studies at the former Gainsborough studio, the BFI and City Lit since 1999, Hitchcock’s centenary year. John has covered a wide range film topics under the banner ‘Cinema Investigates America’ and has a particular interest in and considerable knowledge of Hitchcock, Hollywood studios, American independent cinema and film noir, film technique and style.

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.