French Culture Through Cinema
Class taught in English
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.
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.
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.
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
films depict contemporary
problems such as immigration, unemployment and the difficulties of
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
The best way to contact me is by email at
Otherwise, call me at 909-594-5611, extension 4564 and
leave a message.
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.
MOVIES ARE A GREAT WAY TO LEARN
because they combine landscape, events, emotions,
social issues, language and music.