French Cinema

The themes in this course in French cinema vary with the instructor/professor teaching it. For instance:

Films are in French with English subtitles. All assignments and class discussions are conducted in English (French MA students will complete all written assignments in French).
What makes the French laugh? Why do the French like Jerry Lewis (and other comedians) so much?  Why does Hollywood remake so many French comedies? What do Adam Sandler, Steve Carell, and Eddie Murphy owe to the French? The seminar responds to these questions by examining the comic and humor techniques used in French cinema throughout the years. In addition to analyzing several representative films from different periods, participants will study the cultural and historic roots of French humor and laughter through assigned readings.  Representative films and theoretical texts are used in our investigation. Therefore, the goals of this course are as follows:
1 - to present and to analyze the various comedy techniques used in French cinema throughout history;
2 - to learn various approaches one may take to interpreting a film;
3 - to acquire the concepts and terminology necessary for communicating your ideas about cinema;
4 - to develop an awareness of the assumptions comic films make about us as viewers; to uncover the ways in which directors skillfully shape our understanding and our interpretations of a given motion picture.
Bergson, Henri. Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. 1913. New York: Cosimo,

Carroll, Noël. “Notes on the Sight Gag”. In Comedy/Cinema/Theory. Ed. Andrew Horton. Berkeley: U of California P, 1991. 25-42.

Chapman, Antony J. and Hugh C. Foot, eds. Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research, and Applications. New York: Wiley, 1976. (excerpts)

Fournier Lanzoni, Rémi. French Cinema. From Its Beginnings to the Present. New York: Continuum, 2002. (excerpts)

Gordon, Rae Beth. Why the French Love Jerry Lewis: From Cabaret to Early Cinema. Palo Alto: Stanford UP, 2001. (excerpts)

Mast, Gerald.  The Comic Mind. Comedy and the Movies. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1973.  20-30. (excerpts)

Powrie, Phil and Keith Reader. French Cinema: A Student’s Guide. London: Arnold, 2002. (reference)

Robinson, David. The Great Funnies: A History of Film Comedy. London: Studio Vista, 1969. (excerpts)

Sypher, Wylie, ed. Comedy. An Essay on Comedy by George Meredith. Laughter by Henri Bergson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1956.
The Lumière Brothers First Films, 1895-1898. (excerpts)
The Magic of Melies, 1902-1912. (excerpts)
The Gold Rush, Charles Chaplin, 1925. (excerpts) 

Laurel & Hardy, 1930-1933. (excerpts)

Le Million, René Clair, 1931. (excerpts) 

Boudu sauvé des eaux [Boudu Saved From Drowning], Jean Renoir, 1932, 82 minutes. 
César, Marcel Pagnol, 1936, 168 minutes. 

The Great Dictator, Charles Chaplin, 1940. (excerpts)
Artists and Models, Frank Tashlin, 1955, (excerpts) 

Mon Oncle [My Uncle], Jacques Tati, 1958, 110 minutes. 

The Nutty Professor, Jerry Lewis, 1963. (excerpts) 

Le Gendarme à New York [The Gendarme in New York], Jean Girault, 1965, 100 minutes. (excerpts) 
La Grande Vadrouille [Don’t Look Now, We’re Being Shot at], Gérard Oury, 1966, 132 minutes. 
Playtime, Jacques Tati, 1967,115 minutes. 
Le Distrait [The Daydreamer], Pierre Richard, 1970, 85 minutes. (excerpts) 
Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob [The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob], Gérard Oury, 1973, 100 minutes. 
Un éléphant ça trompe énormément [Pardon Mon Affaire], Yves Robert, 1976, 105 minutes. 

Les Bronzés [French Fried Vacation], Patrice Leconte, 1978, 87 minutes. (excerpts)
La Chèvre [The Goat], Francis Veber, 1981, 91 minutes. (excerpts) 

Le Père Noël est une ordure [Santa is a Stinker], Jean-Marie Poiré, 1982, 88 minutes.  (excerpts) 
Trois hommes et un couffin [Three Men and a Cradle], Coline Serreau, 1985, 106 minutes. 
Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 1990, 137 minutes. (excerpts) 
Les Visiteurs [The Visitors], Jean-Marie Poiré, 1993, 107 minutes. (excerpts) 
Gazon maudit [French Twist], Josiane Balasko, 1995, 104 minutes. 

La vérité si je mens [Would I Lie to You?], Thomas Gilou, 1997, 100 minutes. 

Le Dîner de cons [The Dinner Game], Francis Veber, 1998, 80 minutes. 
L’auberge espagnole [The Spanish Apartment], Cédric Klapisch, 2002, 122 minutes. (excerpts)
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis [Welcome to the Sticks], Dany Boon, 2008, 106 minutes. (excerpts)

Class Number: 

FREN 555


Regular grades are awarded for this course: A, B, C, D, E.

Pre requisite(s): 

Graduate standing or recommendation of instructor.

May Be Repeated: 

May be repeated with different topic for a maximum of 6 unit(s) or 2 completion(s).