“Film and Philosophy.” Winter, 2014.

Film and Philosophy                                                                          Prof. Larry McGrath

AS. 300. 201. 13                                                                                lmcgrath@jhu.edu

Meeting Times: TThF 1:00pm-4:00pm

Location: Gilman 17


This course offers an introduction to basic concepts in the theory of film and classic problems in the history of philosophy. Our goal is to stage a dialogue between the two in order to see the unique ways that cinema helps us understand the nature of human consciousness. The central thesis of the course is that cinema is analogous to consciousness, and that the formal aspects of film illuminate the structure of consciousness. We will test this thesis by watching a variety of films that feature challenging narrative structures and cinematographic techniques. Students will be expected to have read and be ready to discuss assigned literature before each class. Students are also expected to watch a film on their own time if they are unable to attend a screening.


Grading: This course is graded pass/fail. Passing depends on three elements: participation (students are permitted one absence), a short unannounced exam, and a 10 minute presentation during the final two days of the course in which students present, appreciate, and critique a 3-5 minute clip of an assigned film.


Jan. 7   Watch: La Jetée [The Jetty] (Chris Marker, 1962)

                Read: Siegfreid Kracauer, “Basic Concepts” in Theory of Film.

Jan. 9   Ladri di biciclette [The Bicycle Thief] (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)

André Bazin, “Bicycle Thief” in What is Cinema?

Jan. 10 Vivre sa vie [My Life to Live] (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

Henri Bergson, “Introduction to Metaphysics,” pages 133-147.

Jan. 14 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)

Henri Bergson, “Introduction to Metaphysics,” pages 147-169.

Jan. 16 Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1979)

William James, “A World of Pure Experience.”

Jan. 17 Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense.

Jan. 21 Hable con ella [Talk to Her] (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “The Film and the New Psychology”

Jan. 23 Student Presentations

Jan. 24 Student Presentations