Review Comment

[FRRP CLFR W3830] Cultural Studies: French Film

November 15, 2012

Watts, Philip Silver_nugget
[FRRP CLFR W3830] Cultural Studies: French Film

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I can't believe nobody has reviewed this course before. It was one of the best experiences I've had at Columbia. The subject matter, French cinema, is compelling. Wow, college credit for watching a couple dozen of the best films ever made! The readings were quite interesting. In fact, I thought the reading list was a bit short, but the prof has taken into consideration the time needed to watch and re-watch the films.

The mix of people in the class was very nice--some literature majors, some film majors, and most were interacting enthusiastically with the material. Recognizing this, Prof Watts struck a pretty nice balance between lecturing and letting class discussion break out.

Film majors will feel comfortable with the technical details. French majors with language and literary themes. History majors with European historical topics. Cinema buffs (and masochists) with highfalutin film criticism. But that's the point: this is a good introduction to how various disciplines intersect.

One piece of advice: avoid the temptation to watch everything on DVD or streaming, and to skip the in-class showings held after the class period. You should take every opportunity to see these films the way they were intended, on a large screen..This is especially true for the black and white ones, where you'll miss many nuances on a small screen. Plus you'll miss the reactions of your fellow viewers, which can surprise you..

If you are worried because French Film is way outside your major, this is just the sort of interest-expanding course that people had in mind when they invented pass/fail. It certainly made me want to go out and watch everything Jean Renoir ever touched.


Midterm, final, 2 six-page papers. Relatively short reading list. Two films a week to view.

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