10648 History of the Cinema I: 1895-1939 1

Credits: 6 intermediate credits in Film Studies

Prerequisites: none

Recommended: Understanding Movies: Introduction to the Art of Cinema

Authors: Nurith Gertz, Moshe Zimmerman, Sandra Meiri, Dganit Borovsky. The course is based on a translation of chapters 1-12 of A Short History of the Movies (7th ed.), by G. Mast and B.F. Kawin (Allyn & Bacon, 1999), and on viewing films.

The course discusses two periods in film history: (a) the silent film era – from the end of the 19th century (1895) to the addition of sound (1927), including the birth of the cinema, establishing the principles of classical film language in the United States, and various styles and schools in Europe; and (b) the era of the classical cinema – talking pictures and the development of old and new genres in the United States and in the European cinema until the end of the 1930s.

The course follows the development of cinema from a popular medium into high art and examines major changes in French, American, Soviet and German cinema. The course discusses the technological factors that enabled developments such as talking movies and technicolor, the economic factors of production, the aesthetic characteristics of the different styles and the historical contexts.

Topics: The early creators of film; D.W. Griffith and the creation of the language of film; The silent comedy; Modernism in German, Russian and French cinema in the 1920s; The birth of Hollywood and the studio system; Hollywood genres: gangster films, screwball and the musical; Hollywood’s leading directors: Lubitsch, Capra, Ford, Hawks and Hitchcock; Hollywood's greatest films; French cinema in the 1930s.

1In its previous version, the course was called History of the Cinema: From the Beginning of Cinema to the Appearance of Sound.