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Oral Presentations Semester Schedule Syllabus Movies Directors Actors Vocabulary Discussion Questions History of French Cinema Other Resources Online Grades Cinema 2 Course



Mt. San Antonio College
1100 N. Grand
Walnut, CA 91789 
Tel. 909-594-5611, ext. 4564

Barbara Vigano
Professor of French
2007 Outstanding Faculty
Coordinator of the French Program

Office: Bldg. 66, Room 237
Voice Mail: 909-594-5611, ext. 4564

Fall 2008 Office Hours

T           10:30 - 11:30  in LLC
T             3:30 - 4:30    in 14-13A
Th          10:30 - 11:30  in 66-237
Th            3:30 - 4:30    in 14-13A

French Culture Through Cinema

Class taught in English

Mission Statement

Students acquire knowledge and understanding of historical and social situations as seen through the eyes of French-speaking movie directors. Through the analysis of classic and recent francophone movies (with English subtitles) students acquire the tools to appreciate films as works of art and to look objectively upon political, social and psychological conditions different from their own.

Course Objectives

a. Demonstrate mastery of film terminology necessary to critique movies;

b. Describe and analyze diverse aspects of French culture through the presentation of the most important periods in French history, from the first through the 21st century, as reflected in francophone films;

c. Examine and analyze, through film, how people react under certain political, cultural, religious and social circumstances;

d. Evaluate culture in a global context through the analysis of universal themes such as friendship, betrayal, hatred, hypocrisy, faith, life in poverty, artistic creativity, jealousy, false identity, forbidden love, arranged marriage, womenís lib, political ambition, revolution, the pursuit and deportation of Jews, homosexuality, racism, unemployment.

Course Description

This course is a 3-unit general education course open to EVERYBODY. [Bring your family and friends!] It transfers to the CSU and to the UC systems and is IGETC approved. No knowledge of French is necessary.

This "French Culture through Cinema" course provides glimpses into French culture through a historical perspective. The movies are shown in chronological order, not of the dates when they were created, but of the historical periods that they illustrate.

The chosen films illustrate life in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, at the Court of Versailles, artistic creation at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th centuries (Impressionism and Rodin).  Other films depict  contemporary problems such as immigration, unemployment and the difficulties of social integration.

The type of movies shown also reflects French culture. The French have always liked comedies. On the other hand, well-known characteristics of French movies are their perspicacious psychological analyses and exploration of social and political topics.

For details, please see the Semester Schedule.

Website for this course

All necessary and a lot of supplementary information relative to this course can be found on this website created especially for the course. For each movie shown there is a page with details such as the awards that the film may have received and hyperlinks to reviews, information about its director and actors. Each page features suggestions for our discussion of the movie.

The website also features pages explaining terminology relative to film making and, of course, this syllabus and the tentative semester schedule or time line.

If you have access to the Internet, please consult the pages relative to the next movie on the program BEFORE you come to class. You will find some background information that will facilitate your understanding of the movie and increase your enjoyment of it.

Films available for (Pre) and (Re) Viewing in the LLC

Because you are expected to make an oral presentation and to write three essay-type exams about the movies seen in this course, you may want to see the movie that you are going to discuss a second time. For that purpose, each movie will be reserved for private viewing by students of this course in the Language Learning Center (LLC) on the second floor of the Learning Technology Building (room 264), south entrance of the Library, Building 6.

Requirements for this course

1. The content of a textbook entitled  French Cinema, A Student's Guide, has been summarized for you and put into a Question and Answer format.  For Q & A about the history of French Cinema, click here.

2. You should read the background information and critiques about each movie on the class-specific website BEFORE seeing the film in class. Knowing something about the historical, political and/or psychological background is very helpful for the understanding and appreciation of any work of art.

3. An essential requirement is to arrive on time for every class session. It is important not to miss the oral introduction to the movie. 

4. A group discussion takes place immediately after each movie. It is important to participate in this discussion so that other students can react to your ideas.

4. Students make one oral presentation about a specific aspect or character of a movie or another French movie that they have enjoyed.

5. Students write three analytical papers, two mid-term papers and one as final exam.

Grading Criteria

The course can be taken for a letter grade or with a credit/no credit option.

a. 30 % for oral participation, contributions to the class discussions
    and one oral presentation.

b. 50% for two analytical essays.

c. 20% for the final essay.


It is important that you be present at all class sessions to view the movies and to participate in the discussions. You cannot get an A in this class if you were absent three or more times.

You will be dropped from the class after two absences unless I receive an email or a phone call from you explaining your absence.


The best way to contact me is by email at

Otherwise, call me at 909-594-5611, extension 4564 and leave a message.

Donít hesitate to contact me if you have a question, want to make a suggestion and/or need to inform me about a necessary absence. Thank you.

because they combine landscape, events, emotions,
social issues, language and music.

Website designed and maintained by Barbara Vigano, Prof. emeritus of French, Mt. San Antonio College