C LIT 271A (11379)
Perspectives on Film: Great Directors

Film Director Zhang Yimou
The mastermind behind the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, Zhang Yimou, gained world fame for his martial arts movies, Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Twenty years earlier, Zhang was among the pioneers of the new Chinese cinema, with great works such as Raise the Red Lantern. The course follows the trajectory of one of the world’s most fascinating filmmakers and asks, What makes a great director?
Hours: MTWTh 12:30-2:20*
and one hour on Friday (varies)
Classroom: KNE 220
Friday classroom varies
5 credits

*NOTE ON MEETING TIME: Most meetings will take 90 minutes; screenings may run over 90 minutes
Instructor Yomi Braester (yomi@u.washington.edu)
Teaching assistants:

Alicia Aho (ahoam@u): AC (MGH 254), AG (MGH 254)
Shuli Chen (shuliy@u): AB (MGH 228), AF (MGH 238)
Sima Daad (simad@u): AA (MGH 271), AE (MGH 234)
Yizhong Gu (yizhong@u): AD (MGH 295), AH (MGH 251)
office: C-504 Padelford
office hours:
Yomi Braester : TTh 3-4 pm and by appointment. Students encouraged to email Yomi in advance.
TAs: by appointment at times announced toward midterm and final




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 Quizzes: At the end of each lecture, students are required to write a response to specific issues discussed in class and hand them in to their respective section leaders. During the term each student should hand in 16 responses (in other words, one response may be skipped without penalty).
    (2) Mid-term paper: An essay, 850-950 words long, on an assigned film sequence..
    (4) Final quiz: In-class assignment, requiring short definitions of terms discussed in lectures and readings.
    (5) Final paper: An essay, 1,100-1,250 words long, on assigned film sequences.

Grading components

in-class responses (16 x 3) 48
Mid-term paper     20
Final quiz     12
Final paper     20

Policies and Procedures

      Late submissions will be accepted only when the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.
      The midterm and final essays 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 word count must appear at the end of the paper.
      The course adheres to UWs rules on plagiarism.
      Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform the instructor, who will do his best to provide the relevant accommodations.

Assigned texts and movies
Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis, Film: A Critical Introduction
(available at the University Bookstore
Other readings: available on the course's e-reserve site
Films, on reserve at the Odegaard Media Center:
- Happy Times (2000, 102 mins)
- Hero
(2002, 99 mins)
- Ju Dou
(1990, 95 mins)
- Lifetimes (1994, 125 mins)
- Not One Less
(1999, 106 mins)
- Raise the Red Lantern (1991, 125 mins)
- Red Sorghum
(1987, 91 mins)
- The Road Home
- Shanghai Triad
(1995, 103 mins)
- The Story of Qiuju (1992, 110 mins)

CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)

week 1

Monday, 1/5

Zhang Yimou: a success story
Clips from: Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics; Toyota commercial
Tuesday, 1/6 Screening: Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics
Wednesday, 1/7


Thursday, 1/8

How to read a film? What is a director?
Read for today: Ni Zhen, Memoirs, 43-50; P&W, "film authorship" (366-375 - from beginning of chapter up to "Readings in Auteur Criticism").

Friday, 1/9 Group discussion: how to succeed in the course

week 2

Monday, 1/12 Screening: Red Sorghum
Tuesday, 1/13 NO CLASS
Wednesday, 1/14

The Fifth Generation of Chinese Filmmakers
Read for today: Tony Rayns, "King of Children and the New Chinese Cinema, 1-26.
Thursday, 1/15

National cinema, national allegory, and individual expression
Read for today: Xudong Zhang, "Ideology and Utopia" (306-312)*; P&W, "international art cinema" (305-310 / 321-325); "third cinema" (312-14 / 327-329).


week 3

Monday, 1/19 MLK Day - NO CLASS
Tuesday, 1/20 Screening: Ju Dou
Wednesday, 1/21
Chinese patriarchy and the screen; Gong Li as film stars
Read for today: Cornelius, New Chinese Cinema, 78-85 (browse); Chow, Primitive Passions, 166-68*; P&W, The Star Persona" (335-341/ 361-366); P&W, "color" (86-87 / 116-119).
Thursday, 1/22

The politics of film in China; cinematography
Read for today: P&W, "the shot"; "camera movement";"lenses and filters" (103-133 /134-163); Sun, "Oscar push for banned film brings punishment in China."
Friday, 1/23 Group discussion: shot analysis

week 4

Monday, 1/26 Screening: Raise the Red Lantern (I)
Tuesday, 1/27 Screening: Raise the Red Lantern (II)
Wednesday, 1/28

Read for today: P&W, "setting" (60-64 / 89-93); "the human figure" (68-77 / 97-106); "lighting" (77-82 / 107-112); "composition" (82-85 / 112-119) ; Pasolini, "Obsrevations on the Long Take" (3-6)*.
Thursday, 1/29

The obsession with history
Read for today: Dai, Cinema and Desire, 49-59*.
Midterm essay assignment announced

week 5

Monday, 2/2 Screening: Shanghai Triad
Tuesday, 2/3


Wednesday, 2/4
Essay writing workshop
Read for today:
P&W, "writing about film" (270-280 / 33-43).
Thursday, 2/5

Essay writing consulting
No reading
Friday, 2/6
Group discussion: sequence analysis

week 6

Monday, 2/9
Screening: Story of Qiuju (I)
Tuesday, 2/10 NO CLASS
Wednesday, 2/11

Telling a story; music
Read for today: P&W, "The Relationship between Sound and Image" (208-211 / 241-245) ; Stone, "Comedy and Culture".
Thursday, 2/12

The country and the city
Read for today: Zhang, "Narrative, Culture, and Legitimacy" (289-310).

week 7

Monday, 2/16 Presidents Day - NO CLASS
Tuesday, 2/17 Screening: Not One Less
Wednesday, 2/18
Filming postsocialist China; portraying social reality
Read for today:
Chow, "The Fable of Migration" (144-150); P&W, "documentary" (245-258 / 279-293).
Thursday, 2/19

The auteur revisited
Read for today: Zhang Yimou: Interviews, 82-89; P&W, "The Attributes of Editing"' "Story-Centered Editing" (162-182 / 191-212); "Associational Editing" (190-194 /221-224).
Friday, 2/20 Group discussion: midterm returned and discussed

week 8

Monday, 2/23 Screening: Lifetimes (aka To Live) (I)
Tuesday, 2/24 Screening: Lifetimes (aka To Live) (II)
Wednesday, 2/25

Read for today:
Chow, “We Endure, therefore We Are," 126-132.
Thursday, 2/26
Screening: Happy Times
Friday, 2/27
week 9
Monday, 3/2

Zhang Yimou's urban comedies
Read for today:
"The director's cut"; Li, "Capturing China in Globalization" (301-312)
Final essay assignment announced
Tuesday, 3/3 NO CLASS
Wednesday, 3/4 Screening: The Road Home

Thursday, 3/5

Nostalgia and fetish
Read for today: P&W, "Narrative Structure"; "Variations on Narrative Conventions"; "Perspective and Meaning" (38-51 / 68-83); "Music" (226-237 / 260-271); Metz, "Photography and Fetish" (124-132); P&W, "Films as Products"; "Films and the New Technology" (388-396-/ 421-430).

Friday, 3/6
Group discussion: sequence comparison

week 10

Monday, 3/9 Screening: Hero
Tuesday, 3/10

Turning to the martial arts genre
Read for today:
P&W, "Genre" (346-350; 360-365 / 373-379; 391-395); "Special Visual Effects"; "Digital Cinema"; "Digital Cinematography" (142-152 / 173-183).
Wednesday, 3/11

Ideology trouble
Read for today:
Xiaoling Zhang, "The Death of Heroes in China" (119-137); Berry and Farquhar, China on Screen, 158-168.
Thursday, 3/12

* texts requiring more time to read and absorb