Introduction to Film Studies

-  Prof Ira Bhaskar and Prof Ranjani Mazumdar

This course is designed to introduce students to the evolving nature of film, both as a social institution and as a powerful art form of the 20th century. The course will engage with critical concerns and discourses around the historical role, function, circulation, reception and formal inventions of the cinema. What is the cinema? How is it different from photography and the other arts? What are the different ways in which we can understand the power and value of the cinema? These are some of the many questions that will be addressed in this course. Cinema will be located both as a dynamic cultural institution as well as a highly sophisticated mode of representing the world. Therefore debates on aesthetics, form, genre and narrative structure will be foregrounded. At the same time these issues will also be located within other debates on culture, politics and history. Moving through the terrain of theoretical developments like montage theory, realism, psychoanalysis, theories of genre and authorship, semiotics and national cinema debates, the primary objective of the course will be to introduce students to research techniques by focusing on aesthetic, theoretical and historical interventions in the field of Film Studies. Films from all over the world will be screened to present a representative sample. The course will also introduce the major film movements of International cinema like the Russian Avant-Garde, French Poetic Realism, German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism, and the French New Wave. Along with these established movements, the course will also focus on the recent trends in American Independent cinema, the Scandinavian Dogme movement and the New Hong Kong Avant-Garde. The effort here is to trace the aesthetic choices and the historico-political location of these movements. There will also be a focus on the stylistic and expressive modes of particular auteurs like Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Bresson, Fritz Lang, G.W Pabst, Vittorio Desica, Roberto Rosselini, Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, Lars Von Trier and Wong Kar Wai.


Key Readings:

• Bazin, Andre. What is Cinema? Vols 1 & 2. Berkeley & London : University of California Press, 1967, 1971.

• Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction, Fourth Edition. New York et al : McGraw Hill, Inc., 1993.

• Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

• Cook, David. A History of Narrative Film. Second Edition. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990.

• Gledhill, Christine & Linda Williams. Eds. Reinventing Film Studies. London: Arnold, 2000.

• Hill, Paul and Pamela Church Gibson. Eds. Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.>

• Mast, Gerald, Marshall Cohen and Leo Braudy. Eds. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, Fourth Edition. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

• Nichols, Bill. Ed. Movies and Methods, Vols I & II. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1976, 1985.

• Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. Ed. The Oxford History of World Cinema. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

• Stam, Robert. Film Theory: An Introduction. Malden, Massachusetts & Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000.