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A critical look at film noir, the genre no true cinephile's knowledge is complete without. This course will look at the genre from its infancy in the 1930s to its exploration by contemporary filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and the Coen brothers. It will explore stars and directors, influences and themes, and historical and social contexts to reveal the ideas hidden in the shadows, and the shady motivations of the 'femme fatale'.
The course will run every Tuesday from 7.00 to 9.00, from 31 July to 4 September.
Tickets for the course are £70 / £65 concessions / £60 Members, including admission for any feature films screened (there will be at least one full-length cinema screening).
Week 1: The Beginnings of Noir
This introductory session will explore the early artists and films that influenced the beginnings of film noir, from Fritz Lang and the German Expressionist movement to the melodramas of American and British cinema. Attempting to pin down exactly what it is we mean by film noir, we will take an in-depth look at the genre through one critical approach: analysing the construction of noir through mise-en-scène and cinematography. There will be a focus on distinguishing noir from the gangster movie - a genre with the trappings of noir but any number of key differences. We will also consider the circumstances within the industry that led to the development of the genre.
Featuring clips from: Fritz Lang's M, LAURA, Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA, WHITE HEAT
Week 2: Screening and Discussion: Billy Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY
Week 3: Sex, Lies and Murder
We will move past the style of noir to look at some of the key preoccupations of the genre, and their positioning with regards to America before, after and during the WWII years. We will look at the representation of urban spaces, gender (to be expanded next week) and racial politics. There will also be some brief discussion of the growth of noir auteurs and stars, and their significance in the studio system.
Featuring clips from: OUT OF THE PAST, THE KILLERS
Week 4: The Lady or The Tiger?
From Hayworth to Stanwyck, Bacall to Greer and many in between, we will take a closer look at the most dominant of film noir icons, the ‘femme fatale’. We will explore the reasons for the development of the archetype, how different directors approached it, and what it means within the context of film noir.
Featuring clips from: THE BIG SLEEP, GILDA
Week 5: Screening and Discussion: Robert Aldritch's KISS ME DEADLY
Discussion: The End of the Road. Reaching the end of the 'classic' noir period, we will consider where the genre has progressed to, and how shifting social and historical circumstances affected the films being made. We will look at how greater violence, nihilism and moral ambiguity - and the end of the world - played out in film noir. The effect of looser censorship on the industry will also be considered.
Week 6: The Harsh Light of Day
After the end of the 'classic' period, noir has been explored in a range of ways. Filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and Robert Rodriguez have delved into the world of noir, finding new angles and approaches to the themes and formulas established by the genre’s forbears - either finding deeper, darker shadows or dragging noir out into the sun.
Featuring clips from: MEMENTO, SEVEN, INSOMNIA
Course Leader: Phil Dyas.
Phil studied Literature and Film at the University of York and the University of California, San Diego, and received a Masters in Film Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is currently head of Film Studies at Dunraven School in South London, where he also teaches Media Studies and runs several filmmaking programmes for young people. He also works as a freelance screenwriter and film and television critic; some of his recent articles can be found in Media Magazine.
For more information or to be added to the Adult Education mailing list please contact the Picturehouse Education Team:
Leah Byrne at email@example.com / 07918 745 267
Elinor Walpole at firstname.lastname@example.org / 07967 047 401
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