19-20 ML1102:The Birth of Film

The purpose of this course is to provide participants with an introduction to the early phase in the history of narrative film, which after its invention in the 19th century quickly established itself as one of the most influential and globally significant media. The course is concerned with the period between 1895 and 1932. During this phase, film-making was largely national but the absence of the spoken word gave film a truly cosmopolitan dimension, with directors, actors and technical personnel moving freely across national boundaries. Nonetheless distinctive national film cultures emerged, with American film in Hollywood creating the conventions of dramatic film that are still familiar to us today, Italy specialising in dramas set in the ancient world, France making ample use of theatre and popular literature, the Soviets developing a highly innovative theory of montage editing, and Germany developing the new medium within the broader artistic phenomenon of Expressionism. The course will be concerned with film as art (and with its links to the Avantgarde) but it will also examine cinema as an entertainment industry, technological innovations, and the transition from silent to sound film. It covers landmark films by such as D.W. Griffith, Fritz Lang, Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock.