C LIT 271A (1890-1895)
Perspectives on Film: Great Directors
 
 
What Makes a Great Director?
A World Cinema Perspective
 
 
We love films, we love people who love films, and we love films that are in love with other films. How do directors express their love for movies? What is the role of cinematography, genre, acting, dialogue and ideology in making a great film? The course examines these questions through the works of directors around the world, with special focus on Chinese director Zhang Yimou, whose breathtaking cinematography and riveting plots (from dramas such as Raise the Red Lantern to the forthcoming martial arts film Hero) have gained world-wide recognition and made Zhang one of the world's most appreciated directors.
 

 


 
 
Hours: MTWTh 1:30-2:50*
and one hour on Friday (varies)
Classroom: MGH 389
Friday classroom varies
5 credits
*NOTE ON MEETING TIME: Most meetings will take one and a half hours; screenings may run a bit over 90 minutes (which is the reason for listing the course as 2 hours a day)
 
Instructor Yomi Braester (yomi@u.washington.edu)
Section leaders:



Shuli Chen (shuliy@u.washington.edu)
Lance Rhodes (lr@u.washington.edu)
Lynn Walker (dlwalker@u.washington.edu)
Thomas Wang.(zhuoyi@u.washington.edu)
office: C-504 Padelford
office hours:


Instructor: MTTh 3-3:40 pm and by appointment. I will first hold meetings in the classroom, right after class, and will then move to my office. Students outside class are therefore encouraged to notify the instructor by e-mail.
TAs: by appointment at times announced toward midterm and final
course website: http://faculty.washington.edu/yomi/greatdirectors.html

 

 

Assignments

All assignments must be completed and handed in on time. Students are very strongly advised to attend all lectures and discussion sections. They are also encouraged to attend the scheduled in-class screenings. The main component of homework consists of viewing each film before the relevant lectures and discussion.
Written assignments:
     (1) In-class responses: At the end of each lecture and each discussion section, students are required to write a half-page response to specific issues discussed in class and hand them in to their respective section leaders. During the term each student should hand in 28 responses (in other words, 2 responses may be skipped without penalty).
    Consistently excellent responses will be awarded through the section participation bonus, at the section leader's discretion.
    (2) Reading responses: Each student should hand in a reading response, of approximately one page, on a topic assigned by the instructor or section leader and based on the textbook, at the end of each Thursday lecture. The responses should be handed to the respective section leader and must be typed. The best response, a response of your own choice, which may be rewritten and elaborated on, should be resubmitted toward the end of the quarter.
    (3) Mid-term paper: An exercise 3-4 pages long, on an assigned film sequence. Writing technique and grading criteria for the papers will be discussed in detail in the Friday sections.
    (4) Final paper: The essay, 5-6 pages long, on an assigned film sequence.
    

Grading components

in-class responses (28 x 0.5) 14
Reading responses (10 x 1)   10
section participation bonus   up to   8
Best response     10
Mid-term paper     26
Final paper     40

Policies and Procedures

In exceptional cases, late submissions may be approved by the instructor or section leader. Under usual circumstances, late submissions will be accepted only when the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.
      All assignments, except in-class responses, must be typed. To ensure a standard length, please make sure to use Times New Roman font, size 12, double-spaced, with page margins not exceeding 1.25 inches on each side.
      The course adheres to UWs rules on plagiarism.
      Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform the instructor or section leaders, who will do their best to provide the relevant accommodations.

 
Assigned texts and movies
Text:
Louis Gianetti, Understanding Movies
(available at the University Bookstore
):
Films, on reserve at the Odegaard Media Center:
Zhang Yimou:
- Ju Dou (1990, 95 mins)
- Raise the Red Lantern (1991, 125 mins)
- Lifetimes
(1994, 125 mins)
- Shanghai Triad (1995, 103 mins)
- Not One Less
(1999, 106 mins)
-
The Story of Qiuju (1992, 110 mins)

Chen Kaige:
- Farewell My Concubine (1993, 170 mins)
- The Emperor and the Assassin (1999, 160 mins)

Other:
- Lumiere et compagnie (1995, 88 minutes)
NOTE: The Road Home (1999) is not available in the library yet.
 
Suggested readings, on reserve at the Odegaard Library:

Rey Chow. Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.
Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender, edited by Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997.
Zhang Yimou: Interviews, edited by Frances Gateward. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2001.


other films by Zhang and Chen, on reserve at the Media Center:
Zhang Yimou:
Red Sorghum
Keep Cool
(no English subtitles)

Chen Kaige:
Life on a String

King of Children
 
Zhang Yimou on the Web:
A fan's page
Another fan's page
TIME Asia on Zhang's upcoming film

CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)

week 1

Monday, 1/6

Discussion
lecture outline
Tuesday, 1/7 Screening: Lumiere et compagnie
Wednesday, 1/8 Discussion
Thursday, 1/9


Discussion
lecture outline

Question for reading response due today

Friday, 1/10 Group discussion
 

week 2

 
Monday, 1/13 Screening: Raise the Red Lantern (I)
Tuesday, 1/14 Screening: Raise the Red Lantern (II)
Wednesday, 1/15 Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 1/16

Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 1/17 Group discussion
 

week 3

 
Monday, 1/20 Martin Luther King Day -- NO CLASS
Tuesday, 1/21 Screening: Ju Dou
Wednesday, 1/22

Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 1/123


Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 1/24 Group discussion
 

week 4

Monday, 1/27 Screening: Farewell My Concubine (I)
Tuesday, 1/28 Screening: Farewell My Concubine (II)
Wednesday, 1/29

Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 1/30


Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 1/31

Group discussion
midterm essay question announced
Grading criteria; Writing Worth Reading
 

week 5

 
Monday, 2/3 Screening: Story of Qiuju (I)
Tuesday, 2/4 Screening: Story of Qiuju (II)
Wednesday, 2/5

Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 2/6


Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 2/7
Group discussion
 

week 6

 
Monday, 2/10 Screening: Lifetimes (I)
Tuesday, 2/11 Screening: Lifetimes (II)
Wednesday, 2/12

Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 2/13


Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 2/14 Group discussion
  MIDTERM PAPER DUE (extensions must be approved by instructor beforehand)
 

week 7

 
Monday, 2/17 Presidents Day - NO CLASS
Tuesday, 2/18 Screening: The Road Home
Wednesday, 2/19

Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 2/20


Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 2/21 Group discussion
 

week 8

 
Monday, 2/24 Screening: Shanghai Triad (I)
Tuesday, 2/25 Screening: Shanghai Triad (II)
Wednesday, 2/26

Discussion
lecture outline
final term paper topic assigned
Thursday, 2/27
NO CLASS
Friday, 2/28
Group discussion
Question for reading response due today
 
week 9
 
Monday, 3/3
Screening: The Emperor and the Assassin (I)
Tuesday, 3/4 Screening: The Emperor and the Assassin (II)
Wednesday, 3/5 Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 3/6


Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 3/7

Group discussion
BEST RESPONSE DUE
 

week 10

Monday, 3/10 Screening: Not One Less
Tuesday, 3/11
NO CLASS
Wednesday, 3/12

Discussion
lecture outline
Thursday, 3/13 Discussion
lecture outline
Question for reading response due today
Friday, 3/14 Group discussion
 
Monday, 3/17 FINAL PAPER DUE (extensions must be approved by instructor beforehand)