Hollywood Snoops @JFK-I,FU, Berlin


Welcome to HOLLYWOOD SNOOPS, Alan Taylor`s Autumn 2008 – Winter 2009 16 week BA Advanced lecture/seminar programme at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie University of Berlin.

32 105
– VS – Hollywood Snoops: Welles, Fuller, Hitchcock, and Morris (BA Vertiefungsmodul A, Vertiefungsseminar) (im Grundstudium Magister ist dies ein PS, 2 SWS, 7 credits) ; Mo 12.00-14.00 – ZI JFKI Lansstr. 7-9, 319 (Seminarraum) (13.10.) Alan Taylor
Since its inception the Hollywood studio system has been noted for its mass market, genre-driven product that largely concurs, by market necessity, with conventional Realist principles in both film form and narrative structure.Occasionally, rebel elements have flourished within the system, some (Hitchcock) lasting longer and more successfully than others (Welles).Their playful, ironic, deconstructionist tendencies, ie, `Rear Window` (1954), Vertigo (1958), Citizen Kane (1941), F for Fake (1975) amounts to an unrelenting refutation and challenge to the given Realist aesthetic which, for Hitchcock, was “mere photography” yet upon which `Hollywood` aesthetic is founded.Hollywood Snoops is intended to align the work of Hitchcock and Welles with that of former newspaper journalist and rogue director Samuel Fuller (`Shock Corridor`, 1963) and the recent visual enquiries of former private eye – and now celebrated documentary Oscar winner – Errol Morris (`The Thin Blue Line`, `Fog of War`). His `Standard Operating Procedure` of 2008 won the Silver Bear/ Grand Jury Prize at that year’s Berlinale.Irony, paradox, self-reflexive enquiry: as such, the course is intended for BA Advanced students with a familiar grounding in Hollywood histories and who, like the four directors under study, wish to advance their own level of critical questioning of American culture by exploring, analysing, and writing on those who have and continue to challenge its most popular art form.

Research Paper opportunities are designed to attract the professional interest and intellectual ambitions of students of American Culture, Film Theory, American Cinema.

Thus, the link here should be of general interest: http://www.uiowa.edu/commstud/resources/visual.html

Course Description, Relevant Links & Weekly Schedule are below:-


We have 12 students today, some familair faces and news new ones – all making up a a rich mix of Europeans (France, Denmark, Spain, Iceland). On the question of skills and competences, all students should be mindful of this: http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/instruments/cv//step6.do

The outline below will be supplemented by links as the course proceeds, so bookmarking is advised.

◾Useful reccommended oracle source for Film Studies: http://www.intute.ac.uk/artsandhumanities/film/

◾Alan lead on film analysis: application of film terms to sequence viewings.
◾Students to update background reading/viewing on these websites. These will help inform our discussions in the weeks ahead.
◾We analysed two shoot-outs: this sequence from Fuller`s Forty Guns – here is the widescreen version, but on a smaller screen! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7Ao1CdmZoM&feature=related
◾And from Welles`s The Lady from Shanghai: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0ciJ0k7Jos

◾Viewing, analysis and discussion of first film: `Citizen Kane` (Welles, 1941).
◾Prep reading: http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/45/kane.htm

ESSAY GUIDANCE: snoops-essay-guidance

ESSAY ONE: Employing relevant narrative and technical terms as appropriate, students can either:-

1. Write a descriptive analysis of this scene: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=yX-EJ8BCCTU

2. Discuss how Citizen Kane, whose “…complex and pessimistic theme of a spiritually-failed man is told from several, unreliable perspectives and points-of-view”, runs contrary to Hollywood mainstream practices.

◾Viewing, analysis and discussion of first film: `Citizen Kane` (Welles, 1941).
◾Excellent overview on America and Film Criticism from Douglas Kellner: http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/MCkellner/HOLSOC.html

◾Alan lead on Auteur Theory with reference to `F-For Fake` (Welles, 1973).
◾Reference link here: http://www.filmlinc.com/fcm/5-6-2005/sarris.htm
◾As requested, please note excellent research Berlin source on International/European film: http://www.filmmuseum-berlin.de

◾Essay 1 due in.
◾Round table review and discussion based on student`s own Research Reader.
◾Students will share/discuss relevant aspects of their research so far and hand in the essay – which is expected to cover 900 words over two sides of A4 – with Research Reader.


Essay 2: “Let´s start from the beginning again, Jeff. Tell me everything you saw – and what you think it means.” With close reference to the RW film script (below) discuss:

1. How Hitchcock`s`Rear Window` (1958) has anticipated the `surveillance society`of 21st century America. Or, 2. How and why `Rear Window` has become so central in film study discourse since the 1970s.
◾Viewing, analysis and discussion of 2nd film:`Rear Window` (Hitchcock, 1954).
◾The John Michael Hayes filmscript is here: http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/rearwindow.pdf
◾Hitchcock & Stewart, 1950s: http://jacobeanvisions.edublogs.org/hitchcock/
◾Background reading: http://labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/rear_window_c.html
◾Surveillance Society: http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/

In preparation for our work on Fuller and Errol Morris, please read Bonet, Pons & Eglisias:-

◾Viewing, analysis and discussion of 2nd film: `Rear Window` (Hitchcock, 1954).
◾In preparation for: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_film_theory
◾In the spirited discussion that followed, we covered: 1, Foucault/The Panopticon, touched on 2, Feminist Film Theory and had a go at the 3, Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty:
◾1, http://www.zuviel.org/magister/node44.html
◾2, Laura Mulvey`s seminal essay: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/Visual+Pleasure+and+Narrative+Cinema
◾3, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

And on the question of surveillance & urban space, an interesting article that also makes reference to Copenhagen and contemporary Berlin: http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/articles1(3)/camera.pdf

◾Alan lead on film theory/histories, 1970s: structuralism.
◾Background reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structuralist_film_theory
◾And prep for next essay due in next week, details under week 7 above.

◾Essay 2 due in…same expectations as number 1!!!!
◾2 sides, around 900 words, full bibliography, etc, cover page, all pages numbered, with block text…
◾Essay 3? Students must start thinking of their own titles, to be discussed….see below….
◾Round table review and discussion based on student`s own Research Reader, which should now include bibliographic reference page, sample material, subject divisions…a building portfolio based around our essay titles and background reading….


◾Viewing, analysis and discussion of 3rd film: `Shock Corridor` (Sam Fuller, 1963).
◾Prep reading: http://www.fathom.com/feature/122257/index.html
◾Prep viewing, Robbins, Tarantino & Scorsese on Fuller, an extension of our discussions on Auteur Theory: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=40bNBZI7Ymc


In preparation for our work on Fuller, students can snoop here:-http://www.searchme.com/#/&q=Samuel%20Fuller/&pi=8/

Viewing, analysis and discussion of 3rd film: `Shock Corridor` (Sam Fuller, 1963).

Of interest: Journalists at large: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/books/review/Grigoriadis-t.html?_r=2&ref=books

Update: We are also considering how well our four directors would match up to the 2008 EU Framework of 8 Career Competences: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/publ/pdf/ll-learning/keycomp_en.pdf

Update: Essay titles advice. It is perhaps best if students consider starting with a researched quote as a hook and then see how well it applies to their chosen film/director. ie, “I practice Surrealism quite religiously” (Hitchcock). How true would this be of Hitchcock`s `Rear Window`(1955)?”

◾Alan lead on film theory/histories, 1980s-90s: post-structuralism.
◾We will be seeing the first 15 min of `F for Fake` (1983, W elles).
◾Background reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_film_theory


Viewing, analysis and discussion of 4th film: `SOP` (Errol Morris, 2007).
◾See also: http://prod.takepart.com/social_network/action/sop/movieconversation.html
◾And his own website: http://www.errolmorris.com/

The InterrotronThe Interrotron◾And his entrepreneurial/scientific skills: THE INTERROTRON, courtesy of Steve Hardie, Art Director, SOP http://www.whiterabbitdesigncompany.com/Miscellaneous/images/Interrotron.html

◾Viewing, analysis and discussion of our 4th film: `SOP` (Errol Morris, 2007)
◾And the interviewer being interviewed: http://www.film.com/movies/story/interview-errol-morris-director-standard/20838579
◾UPDATE: And details of actual production: http://www.whiterabbitdesigncompany.com/film/movies/SOP.html


◾Summary overview round table discussion, analysis, Alan & group.
◾Auteur Teams on Skills & Competences as applicable to our four directors:
◾If possible: return to Kellner: 20th Century USA & Film Culture, http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/MCkellner/HOLSOC.html
◾AND! Jan 31st Latest: PLEASE NOTE:-
◾Essay Number 3 due in on Monday Feb 23rd as originally planned. This will be an e-mail submission.

Adios Amigos

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