French Cinema

Syllabus in progress

Spring 2003

Michael Henderson



Course Description

This course will introduce you to the vocabulary and cultural contexts needed to understand and analyze French  films.  We will look briefly at the history of film-making in France, but the primary focus of the course will be on developing the conversation and writing skills to discuss and analyze French cinema.  Films will be viewed in evening showings as regularly scheduled homework assignments.  The films will be shown in the original French with English subtitles. 



1) To learn about the film industries in France and the Francophone world.

2) To learn about the history of film in France.

3.  To compare and contrast French film the Hollywood film industry.

4) To learn how to "read" a French film and to analyze the aesthetic experience of viewing.

5) To learn how to view a film in its proper cultural context.

6) To learn French film vocabulary and how to express views about film in French.

7) To improve written and oral skills in French by using French film as media for analysis.

8.) To understand the difference between critique and analysis.


Required Text

 French Film, Texts and Contexts, Susan Hayward and Ginette Vincendeau (Routeledge, 2000).


Assignments and Grades

Three short essays that will be returned with structured feedback and rewritten =  60% of final grade

Class participation = 10% of final grade

Final paper of 8 - 10 pages with bibliography = 25% of final grade

Oral presentation = 5% of final grade


Attendance Policy

Class attendance is mandatory.  Frequent, unexplained absences will lower the final grade


Academic Integrity

Students in this course are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by Juniata College’s policy on academic integrity.    All work submitted for this course must adhere to this policy.

I will seek the strongest sanctions against anyone who is found to be violating it.


Viewing Schedule


Weeks one and two:  Silent film

A Voyage to the Moon:  Georges Méliès

Les Frères Lumière


Un Chien andalou (1928)

Directed by S. Dali and L. Buñuel



Weeks Two ,Three, and Four:   War and Illusion

Grande Illusion

Jean Renoir (1938)


La belle et la Bête

Jean Cocteau (1946)


Weeks Five, Six, and Seven:  La Nouvelle Vague

Les 400 Coups

François Truffaut (1959)


A Bout de souffle(1960)

 Directed by Jean-Luc Godard


Week Eight:  The Blank Generation


Ma Nuit chezMlaude (1969)

Eric Rohmer


Weeks Nine and Ten: Le cinéma du look


La Femme Nikita (1990)

 Luc Besson


Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet


Weeks Eleven Twelve and Thirteen:  Union Européene


Trois Couleurs:  Bleu, Blanc et Rouge  1993-1994

Krzysztof Kieslowski


Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen:  Final Wave?

The Gleaners and I

Agnès Varda (2000)