1. Problems and Perspectives in Understanding History
--what is the problem of access to historical events and processes?
--why is the representation of history itself problematic?
--what major perspectives typically characterize our understanding of the past and what are the differences between them? (include chronological, personal, causal, and social perspectives)
2. Broken Blossoms and early American cinema
--what are the defining characteristics of melodrama?
--why is it cinematic?
--what did D.W. Griffith do to explit the cinematic appeal of melodrama?
--How is Fox’s effort to consolidate
production and gain control of the film industry in the 1920s similar
to/different from what
4. Is what Chaplin (and Fairbanks, Pickford, and Griffith) did with United Artists comparable to the efforts we see by Fox and Edison to control their fates as entrepreneurs?
--what are the characteristics of Chaplin’s comedy? Why has it been so appealing to a universal audience?
--in what sense is City Lights
a melodrama in the same way(s) Broken Blossoms and
--why/how does melodrama reinforce moral values in these films?
--what is the difference between sentiment and melodrama in silent film?
5. Warner Bros. and
--What does Fugitive tell us about Warner Bros. style in the early 30s?
--what were the characteristics of its studio style? Why?
--How do Fugitive and Roaring Twenties incorporate and develop the melodramatic mode into other generic constructions?
1945-1946: what characterizes the industry after the war? Why was there a turn to realism in studio
style? How does The Best Years of Our
Lives exemplify semi-documentary filmmaking?
Why is 1946 a key year in the
is Hitchcock considered the “master of suspense” both
8. Why was there a shift away from 40s social problem films in the 1950s? What were important changes in industry structure? What was the Paramount Decision? What were the changes in viewership for films and why? What were the changes in regulatory pressures on the film industry?
9. Why is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as an example of “safer” subject matter? How is this an essentially “50s” film? Where and how can the elements of melodrama in the film create the potential for social criticism? How does Valance shift the western genre into dealing with the concerns evident in 50s films generally? How is this film “horse opera” in the sense of dealing with major “50s” concerns such as fear of “outsider” influence, pressure to conform, and repression?
10. How do the changes in
11. In what sense was Bonnie and Clyde an
“independent” production? How does the
film’s style indicate its break from
12. How is
13. Why has the economy of film production since
the 90s encouraged independent production?
How do films such as El Mariachi and Lone Star pose
alternatives to conventional feature film form and style? How do these two films contribute to the
evolution of the