Special Topics in Film: California in the Cinematic Imagination
140 - 002 | CCN: 31693
This course will examine how California has figured in the cinematic imagination as an industrial center and as a landscape of fantasy, site for the formulation and revision of national mythologies regarding the American West. We will assemble a cinematic history of the state – from the founding of the Spanish missions to the 21st century – while asking how filmmakers from D. W. Griffith to P. T. Anderson use the California landscape as both wasteland and promised land, iconic backdrop for the examination of American national identity and politics, the construction of gender, and narratives of racial and class struggle. Texts will address the history of the state, the history of the film industry therein, and formal, narrative, and ideological analyses of the films that structure the course.
Films may include: Seven Cities of Gold (Robert Webb, 1955), How the West Was Won (1962), California (John Farrow, 1947), In Old California (William C. McGann, 1942), In Old California (D. W. Griffith, 1910), The Big Trees (Felix E. Feist, 1952), There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007), Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950), Chinatown (1974), The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940), The Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger, 1975), 1941 (Steven Spielberg, 1979), In a Lonely Place (1950), L. A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997), Them! (Gordan Douglas, 1954), Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955), Gidget (Paul Wendkos, 1959), American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973), The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963), The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967), Psych-Out (Richard Rush, 1968), Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970), Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 1971), The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978), The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973), Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978), Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling, 1982), The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987), Boyz n the Hood (1991), Mi Vida Loca (Allison Anders, 1994), American History X (Tony Kaye, 1998), Humboldt County (Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs, 2008), Drive (Nicholas Winding Refn, 2011), and Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen, 2003).