English 24

Freshman Seminar: Modernist Cinema: Bergman, Pasolini, Godard

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2020 Miller, D.A.
W 3-5 (through 10/7) 305 Wheeler


Description:  We will watch and discuss three masterworks of European Modernist Cinema: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Pier-Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema, and Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt.  Though high-water marks of the 1960s European art film, these films are not just famous or important; they remain greatly compelling works of art.  But for a couple of reasons, they are unapologetically difficult to watch.  For one thing, each advances an unfamiliar thesis about very familiar things (love, sex, the couple), so we need to think harder than usual about what these films are saying.  And for another thing, each elaborates its thesis in an innovative cinematic form that even now hasn't been assimilated by mainstream cinema. We also, then, need to look harder than usual at what we are seeing.  To engage these films, you may have to give up your ordinary expectation of cinematic pleasure, but in doing so, the instructor predicts, you are pretty sure to find pleasure of another kind.

D.A. Miller is the author of several books on film including Hidden Hitchcock, 8½, and the forthcoming “Second Time Around: The New Cinematheque” in which he reflects on rewatching the art films of his youth on DVD.  For many years he was John F. Hotchkis Professor in English at Berkeley, and most recently served as Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo, Japan.
This 1-unit course may not be counted as one of the twelve courses required to complete the English major.

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