English 5070

Topics in Film:
The French New Wave

Fall 2008, Tuesday/Thursday, 12:50pm-3:50pm, 326 State
Steven Shaviro (313-577-5475; 5057 Woodward, room 9309; office hours Wednesday 12:00pm-2:00pm and by appointment)

URL OF THIS PAGE: http://www.shaviro.com/Classes/5070F08.html

Course Description

The French New Wave of the 1950s and 1960s marks one of the most creative moments in the history of film. A group of young French film critics turned filmmakers (most notably Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Agnes Varda, Eric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol) decided to throw out the rule books and make films their own way. The result was a series of brash, energetic, and exuberantly inventive movies that deliberately ignored formal conventions in order to get closer to real life, yet at the same time were steeped in film history. The New Wave artists changed both the way films are made, and the ways we think about film; their legacy is still strong today, half a century later. In this class, we will look at the major films of the French New Wave, in order to get a sense of a unique cultural moment. We will also look at other important French films and filmmakers of this time who were not strictly speaking part of the New Wave.At the end of the semester, we will look at some films from the 1960s in other countries (Czechoslovakia and the US) that were influenced by the French New Wave.

Class Requirements

Each class will consist of a film screening, followed by lecture and discussion. There is no textbook; the occasional assigned readings will all be available online, linked from the class syllabus page. (More readings will be added in the course of the semester, so be sure to check the syllabus page frequently).

Class requirements include regular attendance and participation in class discussion (20% of grade), maintaining an online film diary (in the form of a blog) with critical responses to the films we see in the course of the semester (40% of grade), and two short papers (3-4 pages each, 20% of grade each).

Film Diary
The film diary should consist of brief discussions (three or four paragraphs, or about one page single-spaced) of each of the films we see in the course of the semester. You are allowed to skip up to five films; in other words, you must write about at least 21 of the 26 feature films we watch in the course of the semester. Discussions of the films should be posted within a week from the date that each film is shown in class.
These brief discussions should be published online, in the form of a blog (weblog). The mechanics of blog publishing will be discussed in class. If you do not already maintain a blog, you can create one easily, and for free, through Blogger (http://www.blogger.com).

Schedule of Classes

September 2
Three short films:
Francois Truffaut, Les Mistons (1957)
Alain Resnais, Night and Fog (1955)
Chris Marker, La Jetée (1962)

September 4
Claude Chabrol, The Cousins (1959)
John Conomos on The Cousins
Dennis Grunes on The Cousins

September 9
Francois Truffaut, The 400 Blows (1959)
Francois Truffaut, "A Certain Tendency of French Cinema"
John Hess, "Politique des Auteurs, 2"

September 11
Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (1960)

September 16
Jean-Pierre Melville, Bob Le Flambeur (1956)
Brian Frye on Bob le Flambeur
Roger Ebert on Bob le Flambeur
September 18
Robert Bresson, Pickpocket (1959)
Rick J Thompson on Pickpocket
Paul Schrader on Pickpocket (video-part 1)
Paul Schrader on Pickpocket (video--part 2)

September 23
Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

September 25
Alain Resnais, Last Year at Marienbad (1961) [NO CLASS]
Darragh O'Donaghue on Last Year at Marienbad
Thomas Beltzer on Last Year at Marienbad

September 30
Agnes Varda, Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)

October 2
Agnes Varda, Le Bonheur (1964)
Carloss Chamberlin on Le Bonheur

SPECIAL EVENT (extra credit): Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut in Two (2007) plays at the Detroit Film Theater in the Detroit Institute of Arts:
October 7
Jacques Rivette, Paris Nous Appartient (Paris Is Ours) (1959)
Alain Resnais, Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

October 9
Eric Rohmer, My Night at Maud's (1969)
Rahul Hamid on My Night at Maud's

October 14
Francois Truffaut, Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

October 16
Francois Truffaut, Jules and Jim (1962)

October 21
Jean-Luc Godard, A Woman Is A Woman (1961)

October 23
Jacques Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Jonathan Rosenbaum on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Peter Kemp on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

October 28
Jean-Luc Godard, Vivre sa vie (1962)
Shun-liang Chao on Vivre sa vie
Adrian Danks on Vivre sa vie
Roland-Francois Lack on Vivre sa vie

October 30
Jean-Luc Godard, Les Carabiniers (1963)
Reverse Shot Blog on Les Carabiniers
First short paper due

November 4
Jean-Luc Godard, Contempt (1963)

Wed., November 5, 5:30PM: SPECIAL EVENT (extra credit): screening of Jean-Luc Godard's A Married  Woman (1964) at the Foreign Language Technology Center, 368 Manoogian

November 6
Jean-Luc Godard, Alphaville (1965)

November 11
Francois Truffaut, Day for Night (1973)

November 13:
Francois Truffaut, The Story of Adele H. (1975)

November 18
Jean-Luc Godard, Pierrot Le Fou (1965)

November 20
Jean-Luc Godard, Masculin Feminin (1966)

November 25
Jean-Luc Godard, Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)

December 2
Jean-Luc Godard, Weekend (1967)

December 4: NO CLASS

December 9
Arthur Penn, Bonnie and Clyde (United States, 1967)
Second short paper due

December 11 (Bonus screening)
Milos Forman, Loves of a Blonde (Czechoslovakia, 1966)