Brecht in World Cinema - Tobias Nagl
(cross-listed with Film 9314A)
This course investigates the historical and theoretical links between the Marxist aesthetics of playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), the development of “political modernism” as a once influential paradigm in Film Studies and different modes of radical filmmaking in World cinema. In this course, we will study key writings by Brecht on theater and the cinema (“epic” theater, the “v”-effect, realism/formalism, etc.) in the context of 1920s and 1930s Marxist debates on the “revolutionary” potential of film and “new” media (Benjamin, Adorno, Lukacs, Bloch, Eisenstein) and trace Brecht’s involvement in and influence on the cinema in his own era, both during the Weimar republic and his Hollywood exile. At the same time, we will look at the manifold usages Third World, black, feminist and left-wing European filmmakers made of Brecht’s aesthetic strategies during the worldwide social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s in their attempts to politicize film form and spectatorship and develop popular modes of film practice that challenge both the historical avant-gardes and commercial cinema. Finally, we will critically analyze the rise and shortcomings of theoretical “Brechtianism” in Film Studies (as an eclectic amalgam of Althusser’s theories of ideology, Lacan’s re-reading of psychoanalysis, and Barthes’ semiotics) and explore alternatives to theorize the political potential of the moving image after the “end” of cinema. Filmmakers discussed might include: Glauber Rocha, Fritz Lang, Nagisa Oshima, Jean-Luc Godard, Black Audio Film Collective, Santiago Alvarez, Dusan Makavejev, Yvonne Rainer, Harun Farocki, Fernando Solanas, Miklós Jancsó, Straub/Huillet, Ritwik Ghatak, Ousmane Sembene.
Also from this web page: