FALL 2004



Print Syllabus | Readings | Screenings | Assignments | Schedule | University Matters | Students | Links

Instructor: Hisham Bizri Course hours: MW 6:40 - 7:55 
Voice: (612) 625-8460 Film screenings: T 6:30 - 8:40
Email: Course location: Akerman Hall 209, 110 Union Street SE
Office hours: MW 5 - 6 & by appointment (405 Folwell Hall) Course url:

This class in an introduction to the critical study of cinema. We will examine the historical, theoretical, and aesthetic aspects of cinema within the broader cultural milieu. We will look at a number of films that have shaped the field, their formal properties such as mise-en-scène, acting, and montage, various movements (the French New Wave), Hollywood genres (Westerns and Film Noir), the documentary and avant-garde traditions, current topics in film studies (gender, race, post-colonial studies), and the advent of digital cinema. The instructor brings to the course the perspective of a practicing filmmaker engaged in the making and thinking about cinema.

Students will acquire a conceptual framework necessary to think, write, and speak about film. We will rigorously practice "looking" and "reading" films to develop a conceptual paradigm of what cinema is and its place and function in the society at large.

The course will provide an historical and theoretical context by means of assigned readings and screenings. Our goals here will be to:
Learn the basic concepts in cinema studies;
    2.    Develop the necessary skills to examine cinema through a formal, in-depth analysis;
    3.    Understand the
cultural, political, social, and historical forces that have shaped, and are in turn, shaped by cinema;
    4.    Acquire a passion for cinema that will "make you see" (Griffith)

    1.    Mandatory class attendance
    2.    Assignments must be completed on time; late assignments are not permitted
    3.    Students must participate in class discussions
    4.    Screenings: w
e will watch one film per week and study selected sequences
    5.    Readings: between 30-50 pages per week
    6.    Bi-weekly report discussing screened films
    7.    In-class mid-term exam
    8.    Take home final exam

    1.    Bi-weekly report discussing the films screened within the context of the readings and lecture notes. These are a maximum of one page long and must be argued clearly (20%).
    2.    Mid-term exam will be taken in class. It will be divided into three sections. First, tests your factual knowledge of the readings and screenings through a number of short answers and definitions. Second, discuss the formal properties of a sequence that will be screened in class. Third, compare and contrast silent and sound film by drawing on the lecture notes, readings, and viewings (30%).
    3.    Final exam is divided into four sections: discuss the formal elements of a specific film; discuss a major film theory; discuss the work of a major filmmaker; discuss a national cinema and the role aesthetics and politics play in the culture(40%).
    4.    Class participation in the form of questions and critical thinking (10%).

REQUIRED READINGS (available at the U bookstore & also on reserve at the Wilson Library)

RESERVED READINGS (available at Wilson Library only)

Early cinema shorts (see below)
The Lonedale Operator (D.W. Griffith, 1911)
The Birth of a Nation (D.W.Griffith, 1915)
Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1922)
Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton, 1923)
Ballet Méchanique (Ferdinand Léger, 1924)
The Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
Greed (Eric Von Stroheim, 1925)
Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel,1928)

City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
Gold Diggers of 1933 ( Mervyn LeRoy, 1933; Busby Berkeley as dance director)
Rose Hubert (Joseph Cornell, 1936)
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles 1941)
The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)
Paisan (Roberto Rosellini, 1946)
Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
The Mad Masters (Jean Rouch, 1954)
Ordet (Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1955)
A Man Escaped ( Robert Bresson, 1956)
Breathless (JLG, 1960)
Moth Light (Stan Brakhage, 1963)
Serene Velocity (Ernie Gehr, 1970)
Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002)

Elegy of a Voyage (Alexander Sokurov, 2001)

ADDITIONAL SCREENINGS (selected sequences when time permits)
The Vampires ( Louis Feuillade,1915)
Intolerance (D.W.Griffith, 1916)
Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, 1923)
Diagonal Symphony (Viking Eggling, 1925)
Anémic Cinema (Marcel Duchamp, 1926)
Sunrise (F.W.Murnau, 1927)
The Man with the Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
The Merry Widow (Ernst Lubitsch, 1934)
Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
The Loyal 47 Ronin (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1942)
Lola Montes (Max Ophüls, 1955)
Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1957)
Bonjour Triestess (Otto Preminger, 1958)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
A Movie (Bruce Conner, 1958)
The Eclipse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)
The Round Up (Miklós Jancsó, 1965)
Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, 2000)

ASSIGNMENTS (topics will be emailed and posted on this site)
Report #1 - Due 9/20
Report #2 - Due 10/4
Report #3 - Due 10/18

Mid-term in-class exam - Due 11/1

Report #4 - Due 11/15
Report #5 - Due 11/29 (in-class)
Report #6 - Due 12/13

Final take home exam - Due 12/20

Mondays: lecture by the instructor; readings are due; submit your bi-weekly reports
Tuesdays: film screening
Wednesdays: discuss the film shown on Tuesday with sequence analysis within the context of the assigned readings; screen additional sequences when time permits

Tuesday, 9/7

Introduction to the course and concepts; screening: Rose Hubert

Wednesday, 9/8

Lecture: pre-history of cinema

Eadweard Muybridge: Series Photography
Edison Kinetoscope Films: The Kiss (William Heise, 1896); Serpentine Dances (1894); Three American Beauties (1906)
Lumière Films: Exiting the Factory (1895); Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895); Snowball Fight (1896); The Sprinkler Sprinkled (1897)
Sky Scrapers of NYC from North River (1903)
Edwin Porter:
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Pathé: The Golden Beetle (1907); The Policemen's Little Run (1907)
Max Linder: Troubles of a Grasswidower (1908)
Luigi Maggi: Nero. Or The Fall of Rome (1909)
insor McCay: Winsor McCay and his Moving Comics (1911)

WEEK 2 (early cinema; film form)
Monday, 9/13

Readings: Early Cinema, Roberta Pearson (WC); Chapter 2 - The Significance of Film Form (FA); Basic Concepts, Siegfried Kracauer (FTC)

Wednesday, 9/15

Screenings: Méliès Shorts; The Lonedale Operator

WEEK 3 (silent cinema 1; mise-en-scène)
Monday, 9/20

Readings: Chapter 6 - The Shot: Mise-En-Scène (FA); The Establishment of Physical Reality, Siegfried Kracauer (FTC)

Recommended readings: Transitional Cinema, Roberta Pearson (WC); The Rise of Hollywood, Douglas Gomery (WC); An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (in)Credulous Spectator, Tom Gunning (FTC)

Report #1 is due

Wednesday, 9/22 (additional handouts)

Screenings: The Birth of a Nation and Greed

WEEK 4 (silent cinema 2; montage)
Monday, 9/27

Readings: Chapter 8 - The Relation of Shot to Shot: Editing (FA); Beyond the Shot & The Dramaturgy of Film Form, Sergei Eisenstein (FTC)

Recommended readings: The Soviet Union and the Russian Émigrés, Natalia Nussinova (WC); On Editing, Vsevolod Pudovkin (FTC); Pre-Revolutionary Russia, Yuri Tsivian (WC)

Wednesday, 9/29

Screenings: The Battleship Potemkin

WEEK 5 (silent cinema 3; cinematography)
Monday, 10/4

Readings: Comedy, David Robinson (WC); Chapter 7 - The Shot: Cinematography (FA); Keaton and Chaplin, Gilberto Perez (FTC)

Recommended readings: The Close-up, and The Face of Man, Béla Balász (FTC)

Report #2 is due

Wednesday, 10/6

Screenings: Our Hospitality and City Lights

WEEK 6 (sound cinema 1; narrative)
Monday, 10/11

Readings: Chapter 3 - Narrative as a Formal System (FA); Style in Citizen Kane (FA); Statement on Sound, Eisenstein-Pudovkin-Alexandrov (FTC); Review by Stroheim:

Recommended readings: The Introduction of Sound, Karel Dibbets (WC); Hollywood: The Triumph of the Studio System, Thomas Schatz (WC); Film and Reality, Rudolf Arnheim (FTC)

Wednesday, 10/13

Screenings: Citizen Kane

WEEK 7 (sound cinema 2; the western)
Monday, 10/18

Readings: Cinema and Genre, Rick Altman (WC); The Western, Edward Buscombe (WC); Chapter 4 - Film Genres (FA)

Report #3 is due

Wednesday, 10/20

Screenings: Stagecoach

WEEK 8 (sound cinema 3; the musical -- Mid-Term Exam)
Monday, 10/25

Readings: The Musical, Rick Altman (WC);

Wednesday, 10/27

Screenings: Gold Diggers of 1933

WEEK 9 (sound cinema 4; the crime film -- Election Day)
Monday, 11/1

Readings: Crime Movies, Phil Hardy (WC); The Hawksian Woman & Bogart and The Big Sleep (Hawks on Hawks)

Recommended reading: The Auteur Theory, Peter Wollen (FTC)

In-class mid-term exam

Wednesday, 11/3

Screenings: The Big Sleep

WEEK 10 (masters of cinema)
Monday, 11/8

Readings: Functions of Film Sound: A Man Escaped (FA); Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962, Andrew Sarris (FTC); Dreyer on Dreyer pp. 122-146 & 156-67

Wednesday, 11/10

Screenings: A Man Escaped; Ordet

WEEK 11 (avant-garde cinema)
Monday, 11/15

Readings: Cinema and the Avant-Garde, A.L.Rees (WC); Avant Garde Film: The Second Wave, A.L.Rees (WC); Style in Ballet Méchanique (FA); Fred Camper on Brakhage:

Recommended reading: Metaphors on Vision, Stan Brakhage (FTC)

Report #4 is due

Wednesday, 11/17

Screenings: Ballet Méchanique; Un Chien Andalou; Brakhage films

WEEK 12 (national cinemas -- Happy Thanksgiving)
Monday, 11/22

Readings: Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism, Morando Morandini (WC); Chapter 12 - Italian Neorealism & The French New Wave (FA);

Recommended readings: Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent d'Est, Peter Wollen (FTC); Godard on Godard pp. 105-160

Wednesday, 11/24

Screenings: Paisan; Breathless

WEEK 13 (theories of film)
Monday, 11/29

Readings: New Concepts of Cinema, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (WC); The Resurgence of Cinema, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (WC)

Recommended reading: Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Laura Mulvey (FTC)

Report #5 is due

Wednesday, 12/1

Screenings: Rear Window & North By Northwest (only sequences)

WEEK 14 (the documentary: ideology and identity)
Monday, 12/6

Readings: Documentary, Charles Mussar (WC); Socialism , Fascism, and Democracy, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (WC); How I Filmed Nanook of the North, Robert Flaherty

Recommended reading: Cinema Verité and the New Documentary, Charles Mussar (WC); Colonialism, Racism, and Representation: An Introduction, Robert Stam and Louise Spence (FTC)

Wednesday, 12/8

Screenings: Nanook of the North; The Mad Masters; Elegy of a Voyage

WEEK 15 (future of cinema and cinema studies)
Monday, 12/13

Readings: Digital Cinema: A False Revolution, John Belton (FTC); The End of Cinema: Multimedia and Technological Change, Anne Friedberg (FTW); The Decay of Cinema, Susan Sontag

Report #6 is due

Wednesday, 12/15

Screenings: Russian Ark

Monday, 12/20

Take home final exam is due by 10 a.m. in CSCL office, 350 Folwell Hall, 9 Pleasant Street S.E.



Grading Policy
According to the college-wide policy determined by the University’s faculty senate

A - achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements.
B - achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements.
C - achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect.
D - achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements.
S - achievement that is satisfactory, which is equivalent to a C- or better (achievement required for an S is at the discretion of the instructor but may be no lower than equivalent to a C-.)
F(or N) - Represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an I (see also I).
I - (Incomplete) Assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, due to extraordinary circumstances, e.g., hospitalization, a student is prevented from completing the work of the course on time. Requires a written agreement between instructor and student.

Plagiarism, a form of scholastic dishonesty and a disciplinary offense, is described by the Regents as follows: "Scholastic dishonesty means plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; submitting false or incomplete records of academic achievement; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement; or altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; or fabricating or falsifying of data, research procedures, or data analysis:
Students with questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam are encouraged to ask their instructors.

Resources for Student Writers
Student Writing Support
306b Lind Hall and satellite locations varying by semester  (612.625.1893)
A service offering face-to-face tutoring for all University of Minnesota undergraduate and graduate students by appointment in Lind Hall and walk-in at satellites around campus. Two ESL specialists and one IT specialist are on staff. Links to additional writing resources are available on SWS website.

Student Writing Guide
A guidebook providing student writers with detailed, step-by-step guidance through the writing process and lists numerous writerly resources. Available on the web in pdf at: or at the Center for Writing, 207a Lind Hall, (612.626.7579),

Online Writing Center
A service offering writing consultations via e-mail and online resources for students writers and their instructors. Available for graduate and undergraduate students.

University Libraries The ultimate resource for research, the University library has five major facilities and eleven branch sites with a wealth of reference materials, online resources, books, articles, newspapers, microforms, government documents, maps and more. Librarians are available and happy to help orient students to all aspects of the library system. You can find research assistance at <> . The library tutorial, Quickstudy, is a self-paced tutorial covering the research process at the University of Minnesota Libraries. It starts with selecting a topic for a paper and ends with citing sources for a bibliography. Hands-on research tutorials with a research librarian are also available. Sign up at These workshops focus on effectively using MNCAT, the library catalogs, the Expanded Academic Index, and more.

Disability Services
180 McNamara (612.626.1333) V/TTY
It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact their instructors to discuss their individual needs for accommodation or to contact Disability Services to schedule an appointment with a Specialist.

Non-Native Speakers
337 Nolte Center (612.624.4524)
Non-Native Speakers (NNS) in need of assistance or guidance with writing concerns can contact Sheryl Holt, the Coordinator for Non-Native Speakers ( NNS student might also find answers to their writing-related questions on the Composition Program's NNS link: Student Writing Support also has NNS specialists to help you with your writing:

University of Minnesota Counseling Program
109 Eddy Hall (612.624.3323)
UCCS Counseling program helps students with their concerns and offers an opportunity to talk with an experienced counselor who can help students select and achieve goals for personal and career development. The center offers three types of counseling: personal counseling, academic counseling and career counseling. The Learning and Academic Skills Center offers class, workshop, and individual assistance aimed at helping students achieve academic goals.