Filmwissenschaft: J.Gutenberg University, Mainz

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Alan Taylor, Lecture Programmes 2000- 2003
Film & Mediendramaturgie, The Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
On the invitation of Uni. Prof. Dr. Thomas Köbner (2006, ret).

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1. COURSE OVERVIEW

nic-ray.jpgNicholas Ray, Texts & Contexts…

  • USA of the 1950s

  • Hollywood in transition

  • 18 registered students

The cinema of Nicholas Ray (1911 – 1979) is charged with the tensions and uncertainties of 1950s America. Building from They Live By Night (1949) to 55 Days at Peking (1963), Ray worked within and often despite the Hollywood studio system. Across a range of film genres, be they westerns war or melodrama, he was able to craft a uniquely perceptive account of McCarthy America and, indeed, film itself.

As a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray was keenly aware of the power and influence of architectural spaces on characters and their uncertain motivations to dangerous and often self-destructive action. His tortured mise-en-scene – rough hewn montage, brash colour and clashing tones – suggest that intense visual emotion akin to the contemporary paintings of Pollock and fellow Abstract Expressionists.

Yet the stretch towards artistic integrity and statement worked within a rapidly changing Hollywood environment. His 20 films in 14 years – from Black-and-white B features in the late fortes to the Widescreen Technicolor epics of the early sixties –chart the changes in structure, technology and politics that characterized the last stages of the Studio System at a time when its monopoly on the “entertainment dollar” was closing fast. The threats from Washington (the Paramount Decrees), the emergence of a new and fickle audience (the “teenager”) and the sudden popularity of alternative media (radio and especially television) – all contributed to that air of uncertainty in which Ray worked – and developed.

The films of Nicholas Ray have become central to any discussion of the auteur theory and influential on their own right on a range of key directors merging in the 1970s. He went on to become founder Professor at the New York Film School and worked later in life with Win Wenders (Lightning Over Water, 1980).

2. COURSE OVERVIEW – Summer 2001

British Cinema Histories

  • institutions, BBFC, BFI

  • genre, representation, style & audiences

  • industry, producers & language

  • 34 registered students

brit-cin.jpgDespite the success of recent films such as Trainspotting and The Full Monty, the contemporary British Film Industry exists, as always, as neither ‘British’ nor as an ‘industry’. The former film, for example, was largely financed by the European Film Fund and its worldwide profits largely disappeared into Rupert Murdoch’s Fox conglomeration that owned U.S distribution of the film.

An analysis of contemporary films from Britain, therefore, must consider the broad social and economic contexts that influence and often determine both film subject and style. he course is therefore am ambitious one – regarding contemporary British Cinema within a broad historical and social context that encompasses,

Key stages in production

  1. Government film and media policies

  2. The strategic influence of TV in film funding

  3. The mechanisms of censorship – The B.B.F.C

  4. Screen theory

  5. Representation and national identity

Overall, there will be an attempt to define the wide range of films and genres that have emerged over time within an established aesthetic tradition that embraces Shakespeare, Hitchcock, Powell and Pressburger, Ealing Comedies, Nic Roeg, Monty Python, James Bond, Trainspotting and even Eddy Izzard.

COURSE OVERVIEW – Winter 2001

British Film & Television Comedy

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From Euripides to Freud, comedy has always been the focus of serious critical analysis – and this course, unfortunately, is no exception. We will begin with a general overview of comic principles within film conventions and then embrace the wider context of British film production of the 1950s and 1960s (Ealing, and Carry On). This will then extend to television broadcasting during the 1960s and into the 1970s – at this point we will focus on one particular phenomenon – Monty Python, from TV to film.

In detail, we will look to actual film and television sequences from abroad range of programming up to and including British situation comedies of the 1990s – The Comic Strip, Red Dwarf, and The Young Ones and Absolutely Fabulous, for example. Overall, the course will engage in contemporary media discourses on representation in the areas of gender and class, and moreover, in concrete terms, we will consider the mise-en-scene of comic action – from script to screen. To this end we will begin with an insight into recent video drama work undertaken by UK students.

4. COURSE OVERVIEW – Summer 2002

wtm.jpgUp, Close & Deadly: Hollywood versions of TV News

  • corporate mergers & dual aesthetics

  • ABC, NBC, CBS & Hollywood

  • 18 Registered Students

Details coming….

5. COURSE OVERVIEW – Summer 2003

  • hollywood.jpgHollywood Screenplay Histories

  • 1920s to the 1990s, formats, Blacklists, politics, and gurus

  • 33 Registered Students

When George Lucas assigned credit of STAR WARS to the influence of Joseph Campbell’ s Man With A Thousand Faces, the American dominance of world film markets became legitimatised with this and other oblique references to ‘the power of universal mythic’ storytelling. This ideological move has been reinforced by screenwriting theories that assume the natural right of Hollywood cinema to embody such mythic narratives.

However, this emphasis on a-historical myth- making neatly ignores the actual engines of blockbuster success – the dominant market hold by Hollywood majors on local domestic and national cinemas. While the course therefore discusses studio writing practices from Ince to Coppola, it also looks more critically at the emerging screenwriting industry of gurus, courses and website developments – all within a historical context that charts the parallel domination of markets by U.S. studios.

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* Pictures depict Mainz University Filmwissenschaft students taking part on the Cinemasports event of November 13th, 2005. Films were later transmitted on the offenerkanal Frankfurt/Offenbach Cable Network System across the Rhein-Main area of Western Germany.

END

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