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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Lifelong Learning (LLC)

Undergraduate Course: The Last Romantics- Powell & Pressburger and the Birth of Modern Cinema (LLLG07083)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryFrom the 1930s to the 1960s, the team of Michael
Powell and Emeric Pressburger revolutionised British
cinema while producing a string of all-time classics.
Flamboyant and often controversial, their films mark
a transition from the ¿classic¿ style to the auteur
cinema of today. We will explore both their films and
an artistic legacy.
Course description Week 1 ¿ Where Did They Come From?
The origins of Powell and Pressburger in silent cinema of the 20s, including German Expressionism (Metropolis, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and films of Rex Ingram (The Magician).

Week 2 ¿ Building the Dream
The pre-World War II thrillers (The Spy in Black, Contraband) and Arabian Nights fantasy (Thief of Baghdad). Comparison with Alfred Hitchcock (Notorious, North by Northwest) and Hollywood exotica of the 40s (Cobra Woman).

Week 3 ¿ A Challenge to Churchill
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp in the context of wartime propaganda. Its mythic roots in Homer¿s The Odyssey. Comparison with later Odyssey narratives by Fellini (La Dolce Vita) Antonioni (Blow Up) and Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut).

Week 4 ¿ Love After Death
Romantic fantasies of ¿love after death¿ ¿ A Canterbury Tale, I Know Where I¿m Going and A Matter of Life and Death. Comparison with parallel genres in Hollywood (A Portrait of Jennie) and France (Orphée).

Week 5 ¿ Eros and Exoticism
Black Narcissus ¿ post-colonial cinema and Christian iconography. Influence on Jean Renoir (The River) and Marguerite Duras (India Song); Ken Russell (The Devils) and Pedro Almodovar (Dark Habits).

Week 6 ¿ Lords of the Dance
The Red Shoes and the cinema of dance. Influence on Carlos Saura (Tango), Francis Ford Coppola (One from the Heart) and Jacques Demy (Young Girls of Rochefort).

Week 7 ¿ Compromising Positions
Compromises with commercial genre cinema ¿ film noir (The Small Back Room) and Gothic melodrama (Gone to Earth). Influence on Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver) and Neil Jordan (Company of Wolves).

Week 8 ¿ Phantoms of the Opera
The 50s musical fantasias (Tales of Hoffmann, Oh¿Rosalinda! and Honeymoon). Influence on Kenneth Anger and ¿underground film¿ (Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome), Derek Jarman (The Tempest) and Matthew Barney (Cremaster 5).

Week 9 ¿ Death in the Camera¿s Eye
Commercial suicide (Peeping Tom) and the cinema of ultra-violence. Influence on Mario Bava (Blood and Black Lace) Dario Argento (Suspiria) and Michael Haneke (Funny Games).

Week 10 ¿ From Ruin to Rediscovery
An overview of the cinematic legacy of Powell and Pressburger, from the 60s to today. Heirs include Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Neil Jordan, Ken Russell and Tim Burton.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
¿ Understand the films studied in class from both a critical and an historical perspective.
¿ Evaluate the ongoing influence of Powell and Pressburger¿s films on contemporary film production.
¿ Describe the influence of earlier film-makers (silent Hollywood, German Expressionism) on Powell and Pressburger.
¿ Explain how Powell and Pressburger¿s work reflects the wider cultural concerns of its time.
Reading List

Christie, Ian (ed.) (1978) Powell, Pressburger and Others, London, British Film Institute

Lazar, David (ed.) (2003) Michael Powell: Interviews, Jackson, University of Missisippi

Moor, Andrew (2005) Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces, London, I B Tauris & Co


Powell, Michael (2000) A Life in Movies, London, Faber and Faber

Salwolke, Scott (1997) The Films of Michael Powell and the Archers, London, Scarecrow Press

Cardiff, Jack (1997) Magic Hour: A Life in Movies, London, Faber and Faber

Christie, Ian (2002) Arrows of Desire: Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, London, Faber and Faber

Christie, Ian (2000) A Matter of Life and Death, London, BFI Publications

Christie, Ian and Moor, Andrew (eds.) (2005) Michael Powell: International Perspectives on an English Film-maker, London, BFI Publishing

Powell, Michael (1995) Million-Dollar Movie, London, Random House

Key films (all available on DVD in the UK):

The Thief of Baghdad (1940)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
I Know Where I¿m Going (1945)
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
Black Narcissus (1947)
The Red Shoes (1948)
Gone to Earth (1950)
The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills ¿ Participate in a group discussion.
¿ Reconcile divergent points of view.
¿ Write descriptive and analytical prose.
¿ Analyse the cultural subtext of a work of art.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMs Martine Pierquin
Tel: (0131 6)51 1182
Course secretaryMrs Sabine Murdoch
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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