Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Film Class Update

I want to thank everyone who helped me think through my film and society in the 60s and 70s class. I've integrated many of your suggestions. I'm still not totally satisfied, but here's where I'm at now. Also, I forgot that I have to cancel one class to fly to a wedding, so I can only show 13 films.

I've pretty much tossed the thematic idea except for the decolonization unit. I'm not getting rid of that because a) I think it's important and b) part of this is me proselytizing for film. While they are captured, I want to make them watch some challenging foreign films.

So here we go:

1. Battle of Algiers
2. Memories of Underdevelopment
3. In the Heat of the Night
4. Medium Cool
5. China Syndrome
6. Norma Rae
7. Little Big Man
8. State of Siege/4 Days in September (haven't decided between these two)
10. The Green Berets
11. Killer of Sheep
12. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
13. Bonnie & Clyde

So we have 2 movies on decolonization (Algiers and Memories) and 2 on Vietnam (MASH and Green Berets. I'll assume I don't have to make the argument that MASH is about Vietnam rather than Korea). Bonnie & Clyde is so important in the history of film that it has its place. Heat of the Night covers civil rights, Norma Rae feminism, and China Syndrome environmentalism. Little Big Man is great for Native American issues, both the rise of Native American activism and the countercultural redefinition of what an Indian is. State of Siege or 4 Days gets at US foreign policy. Killer of Sheep for African-American issues. Ali is kind of an outlier but shows that what is happening in the US is not unique, is good for immigration issues, and is about interracial dating. Plus it's good.

What is missing? Anything on the early 60s in America, though the decolonization films kind of cover that. The conservative perspective (at least outside Green Berets). All the President's Men. The last is pretty inexcusable, but what to cut out? Everything seems pretty vital now. The class feels much tighter even as it is broader. But I'm still not fully satisfied.