C LIT 271A (11462)
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 11:30-1:20*
and one hour on Friday (varies)
Classroom: KNE 110
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:

Yizhong Gu (yizhong@u): AB, AF
Donghee Han (dhhan@u): AA, AD
Nancy White (ncwhite@u.): AC, AG
Xiqing Zheng (zhxiqing@u): AE, AH
office: C-504 Padelford
office hours:
Yomi Braester : TTh 10:30-11:30 and by appointment. Students should email Yomi in advance to ensure his presence.
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: After each lecture students write a response on issues discussed in class . During the term each student should hand in 17 quizzes out of 19*.
    (2) Short paper: Essays, 850-950 words long, on assigned film sequences.
    (3) Final quiz: In-class assignment, requiring short definitions of terms discussed in lectures and readings.

    * Two quizzes may be skipped without penalty for any reason. For excusing any other absences, official documentation must be presented for all absences. No make-up quizzes will be administered.

Grading components

in-class responses (17 x 2.65) 45
Short papers (20+30)   50
Final quiz     5

Policies and Procedures

      Late submissions will be accepted only when the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.
      The 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 strictly 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
Readings available through workspace links and links on this page
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, 1/3
Zhang Yimou: a success story (quiz 1)
Tuesday, 1/4 Screening: Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics
Wednesday, 1/5


Thursday, 1/6

How to read a film? What is a director? (quiz 2)
Read for today: (1) Ni Zhen, Memoirs, 43-50; (2) "film authorship"

Friday, 1/7 Group discussion: how to succeed in the course

week 2

Monday, 1/10 Screening: Red Sorghum
Tuesday, 1/11 NO CLASS
Wednesday, 1/12

The Fifth Generation of Chinese Filmmakers (quiz 3)
Read for today: Tony Rayns, "King of Children and the New Chinese Cinema, 1-26.
Thursday, 1/13

National cinema, national allegory, and individual expression (quiz 4)
Read for today: (1) Xudong Zhang, "Ideology and Utopia" (306-312)*; (2) "international art cinema"


week 3

Monday, 1/17 MLK Day - NO CLASS
Tuesday, 1/18 Screening: Ju Dou
Wednesday, 1/19
Chinese patriarchy and the screen; Gong Li as film stars (quiz 5)
Read for today: Chow, Primitive Passions, 166-68*
Thursday, 1/20

The politics of film in China; cinematography (quiz 6)
Read for today: (1) "the shot"; (2) Sun, "Oscar push for banned film brings punishment in China."
Friday, 1/21 Group discussion: shot analysis

week 4

Monday, 1/24 Screening: Raise the Red Lantern (I)
Tuesday, 1/25 Screening: Raise the Red Lantern (II)
Wednesday, 1/26

Mise-en-scene (quiz 7)
Read for today: (1) "composition"; (2) Pasolini, "Obsrevations on the Long Take" (3-6)*.
Thursday, 1/27

The obsession with history (quiz 8)
Read for today: Dai, Cinema and Desire, 49-59*.
essay assignment #1 announced

week 5

Monday, 1/31 Screening: Shanghai Triad
Tuesday, 2/1


Wednesday, 2/2
Essay writing workshop
Read for today:
"Writing about film"
Thursday, 2/3

TBA (quiz 9)
No reading
Friday, 2/4
Group discussion: sequence analysis

week 6

Monday, 2/7
Screening: Story of Qiuju (I)
Tuesday, 2/8 NO CLASS
Wednesday, 2/9
Telling a story; music (quiz 10)
Read for today: (1) "The Relationship between Sound and Image"; (2) Stone, "Comedy and Culture".
Thursday, 2/10

The country and the city (quiz 11)
Read for today: Zhang, "Narrative, Culture, and Legitimacy" (289-310).

week 7

Monday, 2/14 Screening: Lifetimes (aka To Live) (I)
Tuesday, 2/15 Screening: Lifetimes (aka To Live) (II)
Wednesday, 2/16
Editing (quiz 12)
Read for today:
Chow, “We Endure, therefore We Are," 126-132.
Thursday, 2/17

The auteur revisited (quiz 13)
Read for today: (1) Zhang Yimou: Interviews, 82-89; (2) "Story-Centered Editing"
Friday, 2/18 Group discussion: essay returned and discussed

week 8

Monday, 2/21 Presidents Day - NO CLASS
Tuesday, 2/22 Screening: Not One Less
Wednesday, 2/23

Filming postsocialist China; portraying social reality (quiz 14)
Read for today:
(1) Chow, "The Fable of Migration" (144-150); (2) "documentary" (245-258 / 279-293).
Thursday, 2/24

The gaze revisited
Essay assignment #2 announced (quiz 15)
Friday, 2/25
week 9
Monday, 2/28
Screening: The Road Home
Tuesday, 3/1

Nostalgia and fetish (quiz 16)
Read for today: (1) "Narrative structure"; (2) Metz, "Photography and Fetish" (124-132)
Wednesday, 3/2 Screening: Happy Times

Thursday, 3/3

Zhang Yimou's urban comedies (quiz 17)
Read for today:
(1) "The director's cut"; (2) Li, "Capturing China in Globalization" (301-312).

Friday, 3/4
Group discussion: sequence comparison

week 10

Monday, 3/7 Screening: Hero
Tuesday, 3/8

Turning to the martial arts genre (quiz 18)
Read for today:
Wednesday, 3/9

Ideology trouble (quiz 19)
Read for today:
(1) Xiaoling Zhang, "The Death of Heroes in China" (119-137); (2) Berry and Farquhar, China on Screen, 158-168.
Thursday, 3/10

* texts requiring more time to read and absorb