Category: World Cinema

Postcards from Rio & Rome

Postcard from… 

You are going to send a postcard home from the films version of the city we are in.

This should of course include multiple images from the films:

  • iconic images
  • locations & settings
  • The atmosphere
  • characters you have met
  • The events you witnessed (from the film)

Rome in The Bicycle Thieves


Rio de Janeiro in City of God


World Cinema Revision 5 – Narrative & Setting

REPRESENTATION OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT:

Another question, which crops up regularly is something like this:

Explore how stylistic choices contribute to the representation of the urban experience in the films you have studied for this topic.


What is the importance of cinematography and/or editing in communicating issues of power, poverty and conflict in the films you have studied for this topic?

These essays require you to have a really good knowledge of the specific micro techniques that the directors use to communicate their themes (messages and values) about the nature of the city.

Postcard from… 

You are going to send a postcard home from the films version of the city we are in.

This should of course include multiple images from the films:

  • iconic images
  • locations & settings
  • The atmosphere
  • characters you have met
  • The events you witnessed (from the film)

 

NARRATIVE

Here is a worksheet on narrative which explains it more precisely.

World Cinema Revision 2 – Cinematic Movements

CINEMATIC STYLE (ITALIAN NEO REALISM AND CINEMA NOVO)

A typical question which comes up in the exam is something like:

Discuss how far the ‘look’ created by cinematography and editing contributes to the impact of the films you have studied for this topic.


‘To find an international audience, films about local and particular problems need to use mainstream techniques such as those associated with Hollywood cinema.’ How far do you agree with this statement in relation to the films you have studied for this topic?

As noted above the best way to approach this sort of essay is using evidence of the cinematic movements that the films have used in their style.

CINEMA NOVO & ITALIAN NEO REALISM

Same as with context make a copy of this template and fill in the features of the particular movement and where you can see evidence of them in the films.

ANALYSIS / DEBATE

There are some nice debates to be had – especially with City of God – that maybe the style of the film outweighs and simplifies the themes of the film. This would be a useful idea to develop your analysis and include in your introduction and conclusion.

Read the articles in the pre reading and pick out 3 key quotes that you can use in your revision to help your analysis. Consider how The Bicycle Thieves fits within this as well.

Note: Please do not refer to the Bicycle Thieves as ‘boring’ just because the cinematic style is less obvious / energetic.

City of God Style Debate

Read this review

The motion is that the visual style of City of God (2002) Meirelles & Lund, overwhelms the substance of the narrative.

Our reaction to the film is purely one of reacting to the exhilarating images & sounds we are presented with and consequently our understanding of the themes and issues is diminished.

Debate with examples from the text.

Here is some extended reading for those of you who would like to read more about this debate.

We agree (Miss H class)

We agree (Miss H class) perfect points

We disagree (Miss H class) 

We disagree (Miss H class) perfect points

City of God – Contexts & Resources

As with Bicycle Thieves it is essential that we have an overview of the context of the film before doing our scene by scene analysis.

Again we will be considering those macro ideas but particularly focusing on context / representation of the city & film movements – which in this case is Cinema Novo.

Please research the following contexts surrounding City of God:

  1. The Favelas
  2. Drug wars in the Favelas
  3. The well known / glamourous representation of Rio de Janiero
  4. Cinema Novo
  5. Mirelles, Lund & Bazilian cinema
  6. The institutional / production context of City of God
  7. City of God critical reception (reviews & controversies)

Complete your notes as bullet points in the appropriate shared document

Mr Gregson 

Miss Hales

Resources for The City of God:

The department notes booklet

Cinema Novo – The Aesthetics of Hunger. Here is a key article on The City of God & Cinema Novo and to what degree the film follows the traditions of Cinema Novo, a movement which grew out of Italian Neo Realism.

Here is a review on The City of God, which explores the visual style, narrative structure, character journey, socio-economic and political contexts. It also explores one of the significant debates, which I hope we can have, which is whether City of God glamorizes and glorifies violence.

The Bicycle Thieves (1948) De Sica : An Introduction

Before we start unpicking and breaking down The Bicycle Thieves, it is important that we understand a bit more about it so that we are fully equipped to analyse it appropriately.

We are studying this film because of its importance and influence on later European Cinema including the French Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) and later British Social Realism.

It is also a good companion piece to our second film City of God because Cinema Novo was heavily influenced by and grew out of Italian Neo Realism. Just like City of God, The Bicycle Thieves, shows a city in crisis and the impact that has on the inhabitants. Just like City of God, the protagonists are trapped and disenfranchised in a city that has marginalised them (pushed them aside and forgotten about them). Here are some of the key contexts that are evident in the film, which we need to research.

Please complete your notes in your booklets:

  • The film is set in Italy just after World War II, a devastated society, with unemployment running at 25-30%!
  • It shows us a defeated country that is unsure about its future.
  • The film shows us people who were promised so much by the facist government, but badly lets down.
  • It explores a country and people that are fractured and defeated
  • The institutional powers (Government, Police & Church) are broken down and offer no help to the protagonists.
  • It is about a working class that is struggling to survive.
  • It’s about the degrading, humiliating and corrupting influence of living in such a society has on the people forced into the margins (the disenfranchised)

Here are a couple of useful videos:

A brief overview of Italian Neo Realism:

Here is a great lecture given by MIT Professor David Thorburn, who covers:

  • The context of post WWII Italy
  • The features and ‘density’ of Italian Neo Realism (28.00 – 34.15)
  • The cinema of Fascist Italy that the film was reacting to

The topics which you are going to present on the Bicycle Thieves and the contexts surrounding it are:

  1. Rita Heyworth & Hollywood glamour
    1. American Film Noir movies of the 1930’s & 1940’s
    2. Italian Cinema during the Mussolini Era
  2. A confident self assured fascist Italy under Mussolini and a defeated Italy at the end of WWII
  3. The cinematic movement called ‘Italian Neo Realism’
    1. Who were the big directors and films of that movement?
    2. What were they trying to say?
    3. How did they seek to use cinematic technique to suit their political agenda?

Your Notes

Use this booklet to complete your notes.

World Cinema : Urban Stories – Power, Poverty & Conflict

Section A of the Exam is on World Cinema.

We are looking at the specific area ‘Urban Stories – Power, Poverty & Conflict’.

As with the Spectatorship unit this question is worth 35 marks in the final exam and we will be studying two films to use in your answers.

Film 1 – The Bicycle Thieves (1948) De Sica

Film 2 – City of God (2002) Mereilles & Lund

We may not get to watch all of these in class so you MUST ensure you have watched them prior to class screenings.

For this unit we will be considering some of the following ideas (this is not a definitive list):

  • Filmic Style – Italian Neo-realism / Cinema Novo
  • Narrative – narrative arc / character function / themes (power, poverty & conflict)
  • Context – post world war 2 Italy / Favelas, drugs & crime in Brazil /
  • Critical Reception – audience / critic response & style over substance
  • Characters – representation/ relationships / function
  • and of course micro!
  • Distinct cinematic technique which is distinct from British and American film.

World Cinema Revision

CINEMATIC STYLE (ITALIAN NEO REALISM AND CINEMA NOVO)

A typical question which comes up in the exam is something like:

Discuss how far the ‘look’ created by cinematography and editing contributes to the impact of the films you have studied for this topic.

‘To find an international audience, films about local and particular problems need to use mainstream techniques such as those associated with Hollywood cinema.’ How far do you agree with this statement in relation to the films you have studied for this topic?

In fact this type of question did not come up last year and so is a good one to revise as it may be on the paper this year.

In a question like this you need to discuss your understanding of the cinematic features of Italian Neo Realism and Cinema Novo.

Here are the posters we made on those two topics.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CONTEXT

Another question type (that also wasn’t in last year’s paper) is something like this:

How far have your contextual studies been important in understanding the specific urban locations and life experiences represented in the films you have studied for this topic?

How far should the films you have studied for this topic be seen in relation to their particular time and place?

Here you will have to be able to talk about 3-4 political, historical, social or artist contexts which you have researched and which have helped you understand the films. Here are the revision slideshows we worked on in class:

Additionally here are some mind maps that develop ideas about some of the key contexts in The Bicycle Thieves and City of God.

Contexts Folder 

REPRESENTATION OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT:

Another question, which crops up regularly is something like this:

Explore how stylistic choices contribute to the representation of the urban experience in the films you have studied for this topic.

What is the importance of cinematography and/or editing in communicating issues of power, poverty and conflict in the films you have studied for this topic?

These essays require you to have a really good knowledge of the specific micro techniques that the directors use to communicate their themes (messages and values).

Here are the micro analysis we did for key scenes – here is a link to the textual analysis form we used.

Bicycle Thieves Analysis

City of God Analysis

NARRATIVE

Here is a worksheet on narrative which explains it more precisely.

Narrative at A2

Narrative continues to be an essential feature of Film Studies at A2 and for all of your films you need a detailed understanding of their narrative features.

Remember narrative analysis is a academic way of saying: ‘the study of stories’.

Here is a document that will help remind you of the work we did at AS level on narrative. However, this document is not sufficient to cover the complexity of the films at A2 nor gives you enough  space for a deep enough analysis. However, it is a good start.

In the context of A2 Film Studies a narrative analysis means you understand, can explain and give examples of the following narrative features:

  1. The action codes which drive the story.
  2. The structure/shape of the stories in the film.
    1. The control (restriction or revelation) of narrative information.
      1. How does knowledge of this information give the spectator pleasure?
  3. The significance of the setting to the story.
    1. This is especially important for World Cinema: Urban Stories.
  4. The role(s) that each of the characters play in the story (villain, helper, protagonist, donor, false hero, the girl/boy…)
  5. How each of the characters are represented and how their wants and needs affect the story.
    1. The characters’ journey, what they learn and how do they change?
  6. The spectator’s position and how our sympathies are shaped and manipulated.
  7. The role of the  narrator (if applicable).
    1. Are they trustworthy?
      1. Bourdin certainly proves not to be.
  8. The themes/messages  that the director wants to communicate and how these are evident.
    1. The link between the themes in the narrative and the cinematic style of the film?