Film History and Theory: A Syllabus (Part II)

By Spencer Cawein Pate

This post will be a sequel to my popular “Film History and Theory: A Syllabus” essay. That syllabus only covered western cinema–the films of the Europe, the Americas, and Africa–and my reasoning was as follows: “[I]t is impossible for a semester course to be global in scope while also doing justice to so many different traditions, so one might deliberately limit the subject to just western cinema. The cinema of the east–India, Thailand, China, Korea, and Japan–deserves a course all its own, so perhaps the instructor could alternate teaching these two classes from semester to semester.” This essay, then, will be that promised syllabus for a course on the cinema of the east. I hope it will serve as a useful resource / reference / supplement for film studies instructors as my first essay has also proved to be.

This syllabus will take a slightly different form than the previous one, as instead of being organized by theme, style, movement, or time period, the following syllabus will be organized geographically by nation, centering on two of the great trilogies of world cinema–Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy and Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition trilogy. (Furthermore, while Semester One did cover some Russian / Soviet cinema, this course will examine it in greater depth when it is historically and thematically relevant.)

Film History and Theory Syllabus: Semester Two

Please refer to the semester one syllabus for a description of the five main course assignments. Weekly readings will be added once I have to time to do the research.

Week 1: Introduction. Japanese Film.

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosowa, 1954)

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 2: Japanese Film, continued.

The Story of Film, Parts 3 & 6 (Mark Cousins, 2011)

Ikiru & selected films (Akira Kurosowa, 1952)

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 3: Japanese Film, continued. Korean Film.

Rashomon & selected films (Akira Kurosowa, 1950)

Memories of Murder & selected films (Bong Joon-Ho, 2003)

Selections from Park Chan-Wook

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 4: Japanese Film, continued.

Ugetsu & selected films (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)

assignments: film journal / reflections weeks 1-4 due


Week 5: Japanese Film, continued.

No Greater Love & selected films (The Human Condition trilogy, Part 1) (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959)

assignments: film journal / reflections, classic film paper assigned


Week 6: Japanese Film, continued.

Road to Eternity & selected films (The Human Condition trilogy, Part 2) (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959)

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 7: Japanese Film, continued.

A Soldier’s Prayer & selected films (The Human Condition trilogy, Part 3) (Masaki Kobayashi, 1961)

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 8: Japanese Film, continued.

Selections from Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, Nagisa Oshima, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Seijun Suzuki, & Shohei Imamura

assignments: film journal / reflections weeks 5-8 due, classic film paper due


Week 9: Russian Film.

Battleship Potemkin & selected films (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)

Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)

Selections from Vsevolod Pudovkin & Alexander Dovzhenko

assignments: film journal / reflections, compare and contrast paper assigned


Week 10: Russian & Eastern European Film, continued.

Solaris, MirrorStalker, & selected films (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972, 1975, 1979)

Selections from Ingmar Bergman, Béla Tarr, & Terence Malick

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 11: Chinese Film.

In the Mood for Love & selected films (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)

Still Life & selected films (Jia Zhangke, 2006)

Selections from Wu Yonggang & Cai Chusheng

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 12: Taiwanese Film.

Yi Yi & selected films (Edward Yang, 2000)

Selections from Hou Hsiao-Hsien & Tsai Ming-Liang

assignments: film journal / reflections weeks 9-12 due


Week 13: Indian Film.

Pather Panchali & selected films (Satyajit Ray, 1955)

assignments:  film journal / reflections, compare and contrast paper due, contemporary film paper assigned


Week 14: Indian Film, continued.

Aparajito & selected films (Satyajit Ray, 1956)

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 15: Indian Film, continued.

Apur Sansar & selected films (Satyajit Ray, 1959)

assignments: film journal / reflections


Week 16: Thai Film.

Tropical Malady, Syndromes and a Century, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives & selected films (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004, 2006, 2010)

assignments: film journal / reflections weeks 13-16 due


Week 17: Japanese Film, continued.

Late Spring, Tokyo Story, & selected films (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949, 1953)

Selections from Mikio Naruse & Joanna Hogg

assignments: contemporary film paper due

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