English 173

The Language and Literature of Films: Fantasy Film and Realms of Enchantment

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2005 Merritt, Russell
TTh 11-12:30 in 22 Warren, plus film screenings Tues. 5-8 P.M. in 2040 Valley LSB 22 Warren

Other Readings and Media

Baum, L. Frank: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; Carter, Angela: The Bloody Chamber; Collodi, C.: The Adventures of Pinocchio: Story of a Puppet; Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons: Watchmen; a Course Reader


"Fantasy is an unusually elastic cinematic category that encompasses horror films, animation, science fiction, Arabian Nights adventures, fairy tales, religious epics, and even musicals. Its roots are labyrinthine and very old; we will try to fashion a workable model of the genre drawing mainly on Todorov and Freud, but also working from literary and film sources as varied as Propp and Marina Warner.

We will be particularly interested in exploring the connection between the cinema and the world of fairy tales, studying the oddly parallel movements in fairy tale lore and film narrative. We will trace the psychic and social resonance of certain themes found in classic fairy tales and Arabian Nights as interpreted by filmmakers that include Georges M�li�s, Jean Cocteau, Mizoguchi, Alexander Korda, and Jean-Pierre Jeunnet.

The course then spirals out from these stories to examine related developments of fantasy: notably the occult tale [exemplified by E.T.A Hoffman and Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari], American wonder tales [The Wizard of Oz, Winsor McCay's ""Little Nemo in Slumberland,' Disney's reworking of Pinocchio], carnevale and the tradition of commedia dell'arte, and the dystopic visions of contemporary fantasists Jan Svankmajer, Dennis Potter, and Angela Carter. What happens when modernists make beloved childhood icons strange, morbid, and altogether terrifying? Where human likeness itself, especially in the form of the child, becomes appalling? We end with the Alan Moore/ Dave Gibbons graphic novel, Watchmen. "

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