TCF 340 International Cinema
French Film

Fall 1998

Instructor: Jeremy Butler

Office: 430C Phifer
Office hours: TT 1:00-3:00, & by appt. 348-6350
E-mail: WWW:
Online grades:

Course Description:

TCF 340 assumes the student understands generally the contours of international cinema history. The course's objective therefore is to investigate in some depth the cinematic work of a particular nation and the historical/theoretical issues pertaining to it. This term our topic will be the French cinema.


1) An analytical exercise based upon the principles discussed in Bordwell and Thompson's Film Art. It is worth 10 points.

2) Three directed papers will be assigned over the course of the semester. These four-page (minimum) papers will respond to questions handed out in class and will deal with specific topics covered during a particular week. Questions will be handed out on Thursday and will be due the following Thursday. Each paper is worth 18 points, for a total of 54.

Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. At least one of these papers will be graded and returned before midterm.

The directed papers must be typed (or word-processed) and will be graded on the basis of conceptual rigor and fluency of writing style (i.e., grammar, spelling, punctuation, uncorrected typos, etc.). You are not expected to do extra research for these papers, but any references to sources other than yourself must be properly footnoted using a recognized style guide (e.g., Turabian, APA, MLA).

The paper grading will include suggestions for improving your writing. Students who are concerned about their writing style are urged to come in during office hours to discuss their work in more detail. In addition, style guides will be available in the instructor's office--as well as in the reference room of the main library.

3) One five-page paper will be due at the end of the term (8 December). It will be slightly more comprehensive than the previous papers and should synthesize concepts presented over the course of the entire semester.

This final paper is worth 21 points. It will be graded on the same criteria as the others and must be typed and, if necessary, properly footnoted.

4) An open-book final exam will be administered Saturday, 13 December, 8-10:30 a.m. It is worth 15 points. Early exams will not be given.

Grading Summary:

Analytical exercise     10
3 Four-page papers      54 (18 each)
Five-page paper         21
Final exam              15
                       100 TOTAL

Grade scale:

A  93-100   C  73-76
A- 90-92    C- 70-72
B+ 87-89    D+ 67-69
B  83-86    D  63-66
B- 80-82    D- 60-62
C+ 77-79    F  59 and below


Most films will be shown on videotape Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. in room 216. You may bring guests with you. There will be no other screenings of the films, but Blockbuster Video does carry a few of the titles, and two or three of them are available in the audio-visual section of the main library. Films on which papers are assigned will be available in the Winter Reading Room (Phifer Building).

Course Schedule (subject to changes announced in class):

Date Topic/Film/Discussion Readings
8/27 Introduction to Course
DAY FOR NIGHT (Truffaut, 1973)
9/1 Film Analysis: Narrative Form Bordwell/Thompson, chs. 3, 4
9/3 Film Analysis: Visual Style
MY OTHER HUSBAND (Lautner, 1983)
Bordwell/Thompson, chs. 6, 7
9/8 Film Analysis: Editing and Sound Bordwell/Thompson, chs. 8, 9
9/10 Analytical Exercise Due
Click here for Exercise illustrations!

Early French Cinema

9/15 Discussion Armes, 34-66
9/17 The Avant-Garde: Dada & Surrealism (Illustrations)
UN CHIEN ANDALOU (Buñuel/Dali, 1928)
ENTR'ACTE (Clair, 1924), À PROPOS DE NICE (Vigo, 1929)
9/22 Discussion Hughes, 212-255; Bordwell/Thompson, 462-66
9/24 French Cinema Between the Wars I: The Popular Front
THE CRIME OF M. LANGE (Renoir, 1935)
Paper #1 Due
9/29 Discussion Fofi, 172-224
10/1 Bazinian Realism: Jean Renoir, (Illustrations)
THE RULES OF THE GAME (Renoir, 1939)
10/6 Discussion Bazin ("Evolution"), 24-51 ("Pop. Front"), 36-52
10/8 French Cinema Between the Wars II: Poetic Realism
LE JOUR SE LÈVE (Carné, 1939)
10/13 Discussion Bazin ("LJSL"), 5-12
10/15 French New Wave I: Alain Resnais
HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR (Resnais, 1959)
10/20 Discussion Monaco ("Resnais"), 34-52
10/22 French New Wave II: François Truffaut (Illustrations)
THE 400 BLOWS (Truffaut, 1959)
Paper #2 Due
10/27 Discussion Monaco ("NW"), 13-36, 87-97
10/29 French New Wave III: Eric Rohmer
11/3 Discussion Monaco ("NW"), 286-304; Crisp, 67-74
11/5 French Modernism: Jean-Luc Godard & Bertolt Brecht
BREATHLESS (Godard, 1959)
11/10 Discussion Brecht, 33-42; Wollen, 79-91; MacCabe, 17-25
11/12 Godard and Contemporary Feminism
VIVRE SA VIE (Godard, 1962)
Paper #3 Due
11/17 Discussion MacCabe/Mulvey, 78-104
11/19 French Feminism, Continued: Agn˛s Varda and Claire Denis
VAGABOND (Varda, 1986)
11/14 CHOCOLAT (Denis, 1989) (class will run overtime)  
  Thanksgiving Holiday  
12/1 Discussion Kuhn, 129-177
12/3 Recent Godard
SOFT AND HARD (Godard/Miéville, 1985)
12/8 Discussion Godard/Miéville, 60-73; Penley, 32-59
12/10 Cinema Ascetic: Robert Bresson
Bresson, 1-18
A MAN ESCAPED (Bresson, 1956)
12/14 Final Paper Due, Monday, 4:45 p.m., TCF Office  
12/15 Final Exam Period, Tuesday, 8-10:30 a.m.  

Reading List

Available at local bookstores and on reserve in the Gorgas Library:

Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. Fifth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

Available through the Academic Publishing Service (Supe Store):

(In alphabetical order, not the order in which they are assigned. The format used here adheres to the Turabian style for bibliographies--which is different from its footnote style.)

Armes, Roy. French Cinema. NY: Oxford University, 1985.

Bazin, André. "The Era of the Popular Front." In Jean Renoir, pp. 36-52. Edited and with an introduction by Francois Truffaut. Translated by W. W. Halsey II and William H. Simon. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1973.

Bazin, André. "The Evolution of Film Language." In The New Wave, pp. 24-51. Edited and translated by Peter Graham. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.

Bazin, André. "LE JOUR SE LÊVE . . . Poetic Realism." In LE JOUR SE LÊVE: A Film by Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert, pp. 5-12. Translated by Dinah Brooke and Nicola Hayden. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

Brecht, Bertolt. "The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre." In Brecht on Theatre, pp. 33-42. Edited and translated by John Willett. New York: Hill and Wang, 1964.

Bresson, Robert. Notes on Cinematography. Translated by Jonathan Griffin. NY: Urizen, 1977.

Crisp, C. G. Eric Rohmer: Realist and Moralist. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Fofi, Goffredo. "The Cinema of the Popular Front in France (1934-38)." In Screen Reader I, pp. 172-224. London: SEFT, 1977.

Godard, Jean-Luc and Anne-Marie Miéville. "FRANCE/TOUR/DETOUR/TWO/CHILDREN." Camera Obscura, 8-9-10, pp. 60-73.

Kuhn, Annette. Women's Pictures: Feminism and Cinema. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.

Hughes, Robert. The Shock of the New. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.

MacCabe, Colin. Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 1980.

Monaco, James. Alain Resnais. NY: Oxford University, 1979.

Monaco, James. The New Wave. NY: Oxford University, 1976.

Penley, Constance. "Les Enfants de la Patrie." Camera Obscura, 8-9-10, pp. 32-59.

Wollen, Peter. "Godard and Counter Cinema: VENT D'EST." In Readings and Writings: Semiotic Counter-Strategies. London: Verso, 1982.

Disabilities Accommodation Policy:

Every effort will be made to accommodate students with disabilities. Please notify Jeremy Butler at the start of the semester if you require such accommodations.

Academic Misconduct Policy:

All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute academic misconduct. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Last revised: October 28, 1998