This course focuses on the cinema of nations, cultural or ethnic groups. The idea of national cinema is hard to define just like most film theory terms. In order for a film to be considered part of a national cinema, certain factors would be used to assess such a film. A national cinema would be such where the country is attributed to as the one that provides financing for the film. Or language-spoken belong to such Nation, dress or nationalities of characters belong to the Nation, and the music cultural elements or setting of the film reflect that or the Nation. Theoretically, what is referred to as national cinema could include many films with textual or historical coherencies in them. These coherencies could refer to medium, style, content, costume, narrative structure, character, Mise-en-scène, cinematography and background. It could also refer to the cultural roots of the filmmakers, the actors, the audience, and the spectacle that the film presents.
As stated, this course will examine the cinema and Nation in different countries of the world. It will analyze their history, their influences, and how significant they are in the overall sphere of global cinema. National cinemas that would be examined include:
Film and cultural critics have had debates on how to properly define the Canadian cinema or whether a Canadian cinema actually exists. The fact that most movies shown in Canadian cinema are imported from the US has not helped matters. To define Canadian cinema as the films produced in Canada is to include movies such as Porky, Meatballs, or Death Ship. On the other hand, there are those who believe that Canadian cinema can be defined by films that reflect Canadian culture and life. Some critics believe that two traditions of filmmaking exist in Canada. These are avant-garde films and documentary realist films. A scholar argues that Canadian cinema, if there’s indeed one, was influenced by European filmmakers. (MacKenzie)
German cinema has been in existence for a long time. During the Weimar Republic, the cinema was heavily influenced by the Berg film. The national cinema of Germany was known for its artistic and innovative approach to filmmaking in the 1920s and 1930s. It expected the conventional vocabulary of cinema at that time by giving female actors a larger range in terms of character types. The propaganda minister controlled it during the Nazi era, and the German national cinema, at this point, was characterized by anti-Semitic films, heroic death themes, and films that focused on the achievement of Germany and its propaganda.
The cold war and the division of Germany was also a significant period in the German national cinema history. Many critics argue that it would be wrong to consider films made in the two parts of Germany as belonging to the German national cinema. While West Germany films focused on the immediate past of the Nation in terms of literature and sociopolitical thought, East German movies were usually socially critical films, most of which were sponsored by the Soviet. Some of the films also examined the Nazi past of the Nation.
It is impossible to talk about German national cinema without mentioning the German New Wave or New German Cinema. This period existed between 1962 and 1982 and was influenced by the French New Wave. It saw the rise of new directors who produced low budget films that gained critical acclaim and earned the support of us film studios. It was a reactionary movement to the absence of economic or artistic development in the German cinema. The new German cinema directors were independent who would not work with the film industry and had to rely on television. The movement repositioned the German cinema to a position of global significance, for the first time since the Weimar republic. Female directors were a significant part of this movement.
The French national cinema covers both avant-garde and popular films. This cinema was influenced heavily by the auteur filmmakers and its movements, most notable of which is the French New Wave. The French New Wave was a film movement that started in the late 50s. It was a progressive counter-establishment movement which rejected all the conventions of traditional film making and prioritized experimentation. During this period, films explored new and innovative approaches to narrative, existences themes, visual style, and editing. The manner in which the cinema engaged with political and social upheavals peculiar with that era also changed. The irony was widely used in movies produced through this movement. The filmmakers rejected the tradition of quality espoused by the mainstream France cinema, which emphasizes mastery of craft over innovative approaches and experimentation. The French New Wave is one of the most influential film movements in cinema history.
Another French film movement that defines the French national cinema is Ciméma du look. The New Hollywood inspired this movement which was active in the 1980s and 90s. It was characterized by directors who prioritize style and spectacle over substance and narrative.
The Chinese national cinema is just one of the three Chinese language cinemas, which also includes that of Taiwan and Hong Kong. The first film was produced as far back as 1905. Scholars believe that the first golden age of Chinese cinema was in the 1930s. China too had its cinematic movements such as the Leftist Movement. Wars and political unrest played major positive and negative roles in the growth of the Chinese cinema. Today, the political and cultural heritage of the country still has a significant influence on the national cinema.
Defining and determining a national cinema is a tricky thing, but it is not impossible. This course serves to expose students to ideas regarding national cinema in different nations of the world. It also examined the origin, growth, trends, and themes of each national cinema that is being studied.
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