French 331: Course on Social and Political Issues


Political Passion and National Predicament: 1789 and 1940 in France in films

In this course students will have the opportunity to study two passion-filled
moments of French history: the spectacular revolution of 1789, and the
startling collaboration of France and Germany during the Second World War.
Since contemporary Cinema gives us a chance to peer into the past while
reflecting on major questions of the present, we will examine the works of film directors such as Abel Gance, Andrzej Wajda, Ettore Scola, who reinvented the French revolution, and of others such as Marcel Ophuls, Claude Chabrol, Claude Berri, Louis Malle, Alain Resnais, François Truffaud who probed moments of great distress for a French population torn between the conflicting forces of resistance and collaboration.

Students will examine the viewpoints and intentions of the film directors who were inspired by these dramatic events, and find ways to make connections to our own reality today. We will consider how these times of great turmoil, peril, and promise provide an ideal dramatic backdrop for the promotion of ideas on love, war, and politics in today’s society.

The web will be used as a tool for course management and students will be asked to collaborate on a site designed for the course, using their personal homepage to post research and final papers. No previous knowledge of technology is necessary, and technological support will be provided.

“Napoléon” by Abel Gance (1927)
“La Marseillaise”Ô by Jean Renoir (1937)
“La nuit de Varennes” by Ettore Scola (1982)
“Danton” by Andrzej Wajda (1987)
“La Révolution Française”(1989) by Robert Enrico and Richard T Heffron
“The lady and the Duke”(2003) by Eric Rohmer

“Le chagrin et la pitié” by Marcel Ophuls,
“Le dernier métro” by François Truffaud
“Au Revoir les enfants” and “Lacombe Lucien”by Alain Resnais, “Une histoire de femmes”and “L”Òeil de Vichy”by Claude Chabrol
“Lucie Aubrac” and “Uranus” by Claude Berri
“Les violons du bal”by Michel Drach
“Les guichets du Louvre”de Michel Mitrani
“Au bon beurre”by Edouard Molinaro
“Weapons of the Spirit”by Pierre sauvage