The Great Illusion: Over a Century of Spanish Cinema

Elective Courses

CINE 388 - The Great Illusion: Over a Century of Spanish Cinema

SPAN 388
401 |Michael Solomon |T 12-1:30pm (plus REC) |EDUC 203

Film in Spain has a rich but turbulent tradition that, until recently, occupied a marginal position within Cinema Studies departments in American universities. From the pioneering shorts of Segundo de Chomón —often nicknamed “the Spanish Méliès”— to the worldwide success of Pedro Almodóvar’s melodramatic and irreverent films that caricature contemporary (Spanish) culture, this course offers both a survey of Spanish film and an introduction to critical thought in the field of Film Studies. We analyze the trajectory of Spanish film beginning in its silent origins in the nineteenth century, passing through the censorship and hegemonic ideology of the Francoist regime, and ending in the years of Spain’s progressive transition to democracy that leads us to the present-day status of Spanish cinema. Along the way, we supplement the shorts and feature-length films with a diverse selection of critical readings that present pertinent historical and cultural contexts, fundamental cinematic concepts, as well as current theoretical debates in Film Studies. We conclude the class by exploring new trends in cinematic productions including short digital cinema, recent developments in new media, and the rise in participatory cinema.  Over the course of the semester students will learn to discuss the technical and stylistic aspects of cinema while developing a theoretical language to think critically about the cultural and historical contexts of Spanish cinema. We interrogate the specificity of cinema as a means of representation (in comparison with literature) and we question the particularities of a cinema “made in Spain.”  Required screenings include films by Segundo de Chomón (Hotel Electric), Luis Buñuel (Un Chien Andalou),  Luis Berlanga (Welcome Mr. Marshal), Juan Antonio Bardem (Death of a Cyclist), Carlos Saura (The Hunt), Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive), Narciso Ibáñéz Serrador (Who can Kill a Child), José Luis Borau (Poachers) Pedro Almodóvar (Pepe, Luci, Bom, The Law of Desire, All About My Mother), Julio Medem (Cows), Alex de la Iglesia (The Day of the Beast), and Nacho Villalongos (Cronocrímenes).  The Course is taught in English and all required films have English subtitles.  No knowledge of Spanish is required to take this course.

last updated 06/17/2014 - 12:48pm

Cinema Studies Program
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