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French Cinema

Module Code: FR344
Module Name: French Cinema
Module Coordinator: Dr Douglas Morrey
Not running 2018-19
Module Credits: 30

Module Description

This module introduces candidates to a cross-section of major French films from the silent period to the present day, with particular reference to the 1930s (Vigo, Renoir), the post-war years (Clouzot, Bresson), the 1960s (the nouvelle vague of Truffaut, Godard, Varda, Rivette), and developments through the 1980s and 1990s and since (Malle, Beineix, Denis, Kassovitz, and others). Particular attention will be paid to changes in style, genre, and cinematographic form and to the evolving social and political context of film-making in France during the period. No previous study of cinema is required for this module.

NOTE FOR STUDENTS CHOOSING THIS MODULE FOR 2017-18: The final film shown in term 2 under 'Popular Cinema' will be LOL (Laughing Out Loud) (Lisa Azuelos, 2008) instead of Décalage horaire (Danièle Thompson, 2002).

Other detailed information in the links to the right of this page also relates to earlier versions of the course and is intended as a representative sample of material for it. For up to date information for current years, see Moodle.

Reading list

Please read carefully the attached introductory notes regarding the terminology of film studies and the practice of writing about film. You may wish to refer back to this document over the course of the module in order to refresh your memory, and especially when it comes to writing essays.

Introduction to cinema terminology and writing about film

Students are strongly recommended to read one or both of the following introductory books:

  • David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art (McGraw-Hill, 6th edition, 2001).
  • Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, The Film Experience (Boston, Bedford, 2004 edition). See especially a section in the latter on 'Writing a Film Essay' (pp. 474-80 and following examples).

Students may also find it useful to dip in to a general history of film, such as

  • David A. Cook, A History of Narrative Film (W.W. Norton, 3rd edition 1996)

or one devoted specifically to France, such as one of these:

  • Alan Williams, Republic of Images: A History of French Film-Making (University of Harvard Press, 1992).
  • Michael Temple and Michael Witt (eds.), The French Cinema Book (BFI Publishing, 2004)

Assessment Method:

You may choose to be examined in the following ways:

100% formal three-hour examination


100% assessed work, consisting of TWO assessed essays, each of 4,000-5,000 words in length


50% formal two-hour examination plus 50% ONE assessed essay of 4,000-5,000 words in length