French 335:

French Cinema


Fall 2010


Instructor:         McRae Amoss                         Office Hours:    M         2:00-2:50

Office:              Grainger 302                                                    W        11:00-11:50

Telephone:        395-2177                                                         R          10:50-11:30

                                                                                                F          9:00-9:50

and by appointment




Course Description:

An introduction to cinema in French focusing on one of any number of particular topics within the broader subject.  Topics may include: the history of French cinema, great directors, films treating a specific subject matter (love, war, family), films and literature, films and history, a particular director (Renoir, Truffaut, Godard) or group of directors (“le réalisme poétique” or “la Nouvelle Vague”), Francophone cinema, or films from a particular period.  Students will learn the vocabulary required for describing and analyzing films in French.  Prerequisite: FREN 202 or equivalent.  3 credits.




Course Objectives:

Students will demonstrate the ability to:

1.  Understand and respond in speech and in writing to a series of selected films in French.

2.  Discuss films in French employing the proper technical vocabulary.

3.  Summarize films and analyze them with respect to their themes, structure, and style.

4.  Identify important French directors and characterize their oeuvre.

5.  Relate individual films to the historical period in which they were produced and to the society they reflect.

6.  Find related information using resources available in the Library and through the internet.

7.  Report their analyses and information through e-mail, oral exposés, answers on written examinations, one-page critiques and a formal paper.


Course requirements:

Students will view films during the Monday evening class session beginning at 6:30 in Grainger 201. 

At the beginning of the first class at which a film is to be discussed, students will turn in a one-page appreciation or critique of the film, reporting their reactions to its themes, structure, or techniques (not a summary of the plot) and ending with a series of questions (at least two) for further discussion.  Since these appreciations will form the basis for part of the class discussion of each film, late submissions will not be accepted.

Students will participate in class discussions and will present exposés on the scheduled topics (students will submit a typed, detailed outline of each exposé on the day of its presentation to the class).

A mid-term and a final examination will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their comprehension of technical terms, their knowledge of the individual films studied, including the social and historical contexts, and their ability to produce a critical argument in response to a given question or topic.

Students will write a critical essay of 5-6 pages on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.  Possible topics include the analysis of a particular theme in one or more films, the importance of a particular setting, character, or motif, a comparison of two or more films from a particular point of view.  Students must discuss their first draft of the essay with the instructor.


Distribution of the final grade (grading is on a 10-point scale):

Presence and participation (including exposés)  20%

One-page critiques                                                       20%

Mid-term examination                                       20%

Final examination                                                          20%

Critical essay                                                                20%


Participation and Attendance:

Since participation in class, besides being an important means of improving students’ ability to understand and speak French, is also a part of the final grade, class attendance is obligatory.  The attendance policy is the one stated in the catalogue, to wit:

Students are expected to attend all classes. Failure to attend class regularly impairs academic performance. Absences are disruptive to the educational process for others. This is especially true when absences cause interruptions for clarification of material previously covered, failure to assume assigned responsibilities for class presentations, or failure to adjust to changes in assigned material or due dates.

It is the responsibility of each instructor to give students a copy of his or her attendance policy in the course syllabus.

Instructors may assign a grade of “0” or “F” on work missed because of unexcused absences.
Instructors have the right to lower a student’s course grade, but no more than one letter grade, if the student misses 10 percent of the scheduled class meeting times for unexcused absences.

Instructors have the right to assign a course grade of “F” when the student has missed a total (excused and unexcused) of 25 percent of the scheduled class meeting times.

Students must assume full responsibility for any loss incurred because of absence, whether excused or unexcused. Instructors should permit students to make up work when the absence is excused. Excused absences are those resulting from the student’s participation in a college-sponsored activity, from recognizable emergencies, or from serious illness. Faculty may require documentation for excused absences in their attendance policy. Student Health Services can provide documentation only for students hospitalized locally or absent at the direction of Student Health Services personnel.



Progamme du cours (sous réserve de modification):


24 août

Introduction:     le langage du cinema

film:                  René Clair, Entracte (1924)


26 août

film:                  Luis Buñuel, Un chien andalou (1929)

exposé: Luis Buñuel

                        le surréalisme en art



31 aoôt

film:                  Jean Renoir, La règle du jeu (1939)

exposé: Jean Renoir

                        le « réalisme poétique » dans le cinéma français


2 septembre

exposé: tradition et modernité: le théâtre classique de Marivaux, Beaumarchais et Musset

                        agitation sociale et la lutte des classes aux années 30


7 septembre

film:                  Marcel Carné, Les enfants du paradis (1945)

exposé: Marcel Carné

                        Frédérick Lemaître

                        le théâtre romantique


9 septembre

exposé: l’occupation de la France (1940-44)

                        l’histoire de la pantomime


14 septembre

film:                  René Clément, Jeux interdits (1952)

exposé: René Clément

                        la France en 1939 et 1940


16 septembre

exposé: comment les enfants comprennent la mort

                        le rôle du jeu dans la vie d’enfant


21 septembre

film:                  François Truffaut, Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959)

exposé: André Bazin

les Cahiers du cinéma


23 septembre

exposé: François Truffaut

                        les principes de la « nouvelle vague »


28 septembre

film:                  Jean-Luc Godard, A bout de souffle (1960)

exposé: conformisme et révolte aux années 1950


30 septembre

exposé: la carrière de Jean-Luc Godard : films et politique


5 octobre        

film:                  Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

exposé: Alain Resnais

                        Marguerite Duras

                        l’emploi de la bombe atomique au Japon à la fin de la 2eme guerre mondiale et ses effets


7 octobre

exposé             résistance et collaboration en France pendant la 2e guerre mondiale


14 octobre      

Examen partiel


19 octobre

film:                  Agnès Varda, Sans toit ni loi (1985)

exposé: Agnès Varda

                        le problème du chômage et la vie des jeunes dans la société française

                        le mythe de Vénus/Aphrodite

                        Sandrine Bonnaire       


21 octobre

à faire:              consulter le professeur pour identifier le sujet et les sources de votre mémoire


26 octobre      

film :                 Jean-Jacques Beineix, Diva (1980)

exposé :            Jean-Jacques Beineix


28 octobre

exposé :            le « cinéma du look » : Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson, Léos Carax


2 novembre

film:                  Régis Wargnier, Indochine (1992)

lecture:             Michèle Bacholle, “Camille et Mùi ou du Vietnam dans Indochine et L'Odeur de la papaye verte,” French Review: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of French, 74:5 (2001 Apr): 946-57

exposé: l’histoire de l’Indochine

le colonialisme et la décolonisation


4 novembre

exposé: le nationalisme et le communisme en Indochine

                        Catherine Deneuve      


9 novembre    

film:                  Michael Haneke, Code inconnu (2000)

lecture:             Robin Wood, “In Search of the Code Inconnu,” CineAction 62 (2003): 41-49 (available online through InfoTrac OneFile)

exposé: Michael Haneke

                        la France et les immigrants d’aujourd’hui


11 novembre

exposé: Juliette Binoche

à faire : remettre le plan du mémoire


16 novembre

film :                 Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Un long dimanche de fiançailles (2004)

exposé :            Jean-Pierre Jeunet

                        la guerre de 1914-18 dans l’imaginaire français

                        Audrey Tautou

                        Gaspard Ulliel


18 novembre

à faire : consultation sur le brouillon du mémoire            



23 novembre

film :                 Yann Samuell, Jeux d’enfants (2004)

exposé :            Yann Samuell

                        Marion Cotillard

                        la fantaisie comme genre littéraire et cinématographique


30 novembre

film :                 Cédric Klapisch, Paris (2009)

exposé :            Cédric Klapisch

                        Romain Duris   


2 décembre


à faire:              remettre le mémoire


Examen final: le jeudi 9 décembre, 11h30 – 14h00.


Honor Code:

Students are expected to live by the Longwood College Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged.


Bibliography (on reserve in Greenwood Library):


Altman, Carol S.  Enfance…inspiration littéraire et cinématographique.  Birmingham (AL) : Summa, 2006.


Austin, Guy.  Contemporary French Cinema : An Introduction.  2nd edition.  Manchester and New York: Manchester UP, 2008.


Lanzoni, Rémi Fournier.  French Cinema : From Its Beginnings to the Present.  New York and London: Continuum, 2002.