Archive for the ‘urbanism’ Category

cinema and urbanism syllabus

Cinema & Urbanism

Associate Professor Louis-Georges Schwartz

T-Thu 10:30 AM – 1PM

Spring 2013

School Of Film

Ohio University


Office Hours:

M 2PM -5 PM


This class will examine the relationship between film and cities. One cannot imagine the history of cinema without cities. The industrial conditions necessary for the development and production of the cinematograph as well as other early cinematographic technology did not exist outside of urban areas. For the first third of film history, cinema’s primary audiences were urban for the simple reason that only cities had enough population to make movie theaters commercially viable. The class will have two foci:

1)    We will look at how perceptions of urban environment make people and movie characters who they are through processes of subjectification, desubjectification and interpellation (processes and perceptions that are grounded in the material conditions of life in historically specific cities and fictional cities.

2)    We will also learn to see films, even fiction films, as analyses of historically specific urban space and the life-forms that that they foster. We will especially attend to the revolutionary impetus in dystopian critiques of urban space and urban utopias posited by the films.


We will orient our work so that it can be used to think

A city where ……

Social relations are structured by our needs and desires instead of the interests of developers.


Research Paper: The final paper, due May 2, will focus on a particular city, which must be chosen by January 22. The paper will analyze a film or several films about that city, or the film industry in that city, or film exhibition in that city, or the planning of that city according to cinematic principals. Students will informally report on their early research on February 7. I recommend that students submit a draft to me by 10th week.



Participation in class discussion 40% of Grade

Final Paper 60%

Excused absences will be permitted


Student responsibilities:

Aside from attendance and the final paper, students must do all the reading, see all the films on the syllabus as well as other relevant films, and prepare for class discussion.



Books Available @

AlSayyad, Nezar. Cinematic Urbanism : A History Of The Modern From Reel To Real. New York. Routledge. 2009

Drake, Chris. Alphaville. Champaign, IL. University of Illinois Press. 2005.

Elsaesser, Thomas. Metropolis. British Film Institute. London. 2008

Forgacs, David. Rome Open City. London. British Film Institute. 2008.

Gordon, Robert. Bicycle Thieves . London. British Film Institute. 2008.

Kaes, Anton. M. British Film Institute. London. 2008

White, Rob. The Third Man.  London. British Film Institute. 2008.

Kracauer, Siegfried. Of Film. Princeton. Princeton University Press. 1997.





January 15:


Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin Symphony Of A Great City) (Ruttman, 1927)

Bezucelna prochazka (Aimless Walk) (Hamid, 1930)


January 17:


Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903.) in Gary Bridge an Sophie Watson, eds. The Blackwell City Reader. Oxford. Wiley-Blackwell. 2002. (PDF)



January 22:


Человек с киноаппаратом (Man With A Movie Camera) (Vertov, 1929)

Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray) (Clair, 1925)


Discussion of cities chosen for research




January 24:


Alifragkis, Stavros and François Penz. “Spatial dialectics: montage and spatially organised narrative in stories without human leads” Digital Creativity 2006, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 221–233. (PDF)

Chapter 1 in AlSayyad, Nezar. Cinematic Urbanism : A History Of The Modern From Reel To Real. New York. Routledge. 2009.

Kracauer, Siegfried. “Inherent Affinities” in Theory Of Film. Princeton. Princeton University Press. 1997. pp. 60-74.

Kracauer, Siegfried. “Gratifications” in Theory Of Film. Princeton. Princeton University Press. 1997. pp. 166-172.


Michelson, Annette “Dr. Crase and Mr. Clair” October, Vol. 11 Essays in Honor of Jay Leyda (Winter, 1979), pp. 30-53 (PDF)

Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo. “Dynamic of the Metropolis”


Vidler, Anthony. “The Explosion of Space: Architecture and the Filmic Imaginary” Assemblage, No. 21, (Aug., 1993), pp. 44-59. (PDF)



January 29:


Metropolis (Lang, 1927)


January 31:


M (Lang, 1931)


February 5:


Bruno, Giuliana “City Views :The Voyage of Film Images.” In The Cinematic City. David B. Clarke, Ed.  New York. Routledge. 1997. (PDF)

Bruno, Giuliana. “Motion and Emotion: Film and the Urban Fabric.” In Andrew Webber and Emma Wilson Eds. Cities In Transition : The Moving Image and the Modern Metropolis. London. Wallflower. 2008. (PDF)


Smith, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith “Cities : Real and Imagined” in Mark Siel and Tony Fitzmaurice, Eds. In Cinema And The City : Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context. Malden, MA. Blackwell. 2001. (PDF)


Elsaesser, Thomas. Metropolis. British Film Institute. London. 2008

Kaes, Anton. M. British Film Institute. London. 2008



February 7:

Research Workshop


February 12:


Roma, città aperta (Rome Open City) (Rossellini, 1945)


February 14:


Forgacs, David. Rome Open City. London. British Film Institute. 2008.


February 19:


Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves ) (De Sica, 1948)


February 21:


Gordon, Robert. Bicycle Thieves . London. British Film Institute. 2008.


February 26:


The Third Man (Reed, 1949)


February 28:


White, Rob. The Third Man.  London. British Film Institute. 2008.


March 4:

Spring Break


March 6:

Spring Break


March 12:


Cleo de 5 a 7 (Cleo From 5 to 7) Varda 1962



March 14:

Ivain Gilles, “Formulary for a New Urbanism”October 1953
Internationale Situationniste #1


“Unitary Urbanism at the End of the 1950s

Internationale Situationniste #3 (December 1959)”

Debord, Guy “Situationist Theses on Traffic”Internationale Situationniste #3 (November 1959)


Debord Guy. “Theory of the Dérive” Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November 1956)


Ungar, Steven. Cleo de 5 a 7 London. British Film Institute. 2008


Drake, Chris. Alphaville. Champaign, IL. University of Illinois Press. 2005.

Kracauer, Siegfried. “Analysis of a City Map” In The Mass Ornament. Thomas Y. Levin Ed. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1995.


March 19:

Alphaville (Godard, 1965)

Research Discussion


March 21:


“Critique of Urbanism”International Situationniste #6 (August 1961)


Drake, Chris. Alphaville. Champaign, IL. University of Illinois Press. 2005.

Kracauer, Siegfried. “Analysis of a City Map” In The Mass Ornament. Thomas Y. Levin Ed. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1995. (PDF)

Vaneigem, Raoul “Comments Against Urbanism” Internationale Situationniste #6 (August 1961)




March 26:


Escape From New York (Carpenter, 1981)


March 28:


Harvey, David “The Right To The City.” New Left Review. V. 53.  September / October 2008. (PDF)


April 2:


Desperately Seeking Susan (Seidelman, 1985)


April 4:


Peck, Jamie. “Liberating The City: Between New York And New Orleans.” Copyright © 2006 by V. H. Winston & Son, Inc. All rights reserved.

Urban Geography, 2006, 27, 8, pp. 681–713. (PDF)


April 9:


Do The Right Thing (Lee, 1989)


April 11:

Chapter 8: AlSayyad, Nezar. Cinematic Urbanism : A History Of The Modern From Reel To Real. New York. Routledge. 2009


April 16:

Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)

In Order Not To Be Here (Stratman, 2002)



April 18:

Chapter 5: AlSayyad, Nezar. Cinematic Urbanism : A History Of The Modern From Reel To Real. New York. Routledge. 2009


Mike David “The Ecology Of Fear”


April 23:


Los Angeles Plays Itself (Andersen, 2003)



April 25:


二十四城/二十四城記 (24 City) (Jia, 2008)


May 2: Final Paper Due







The Ohio University Student Code of Conduct prohibits all forms of academic dishonesty. These include -but are not limited to- cheating; plagiarism; forgery; furnishing false information to the University; and alteration or misuse of University documents, records, or identification. In addition, assignments that are totally/partially taken from an external source such as published information (book, web page, etc.), produced by a translation program or by another person will receive NO credit. All forms of dishonesty will be reported to the Director of the program. Possible consequences include a grade of zero on the assignment, course failure, and/or referral to judiciaries.  See The OU Student Code of Conduct



We are committed to ensuring equal opportunity for students with a disability. This is a collaborative process and effort among the Disability Services office, the student and the instructor. Students with disabilities should provide the instructor with written notification of their disability via Disability Student Services and make a direct request for accommodations to establish the means of providing accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids within one week of the beginning of the course. If you have any condition (physical/learning disability), which will make it difficult for you to perform class work as delineated in this syllabus or if you require special accommodations, it is YOUR responsibility to notify your instructor the first week of class.



















An Incomplete Annotated Anglophone Pasolini Bibliography (Part :1 Books)

January 7, 2012 2 comments

Works By Pier Paolo Pasolini in English Translation in book form

Heretical Empiricism. Ben Lawton and Louise K. Barnett Trans. New Academia Publishing. Washington, DC. 2005. Translations from Empirismo eretico. Aldo Garsanti Editore. 1972.

Linguistics, Literary Criticism, Film Theory. Revised (2005 edition includes “Repudiation of Trilogy of Life” written as an introduction to the publication of the screenplays in 1975.)

In Danger. Jack Hirschman Ed. City Lights Press. San Francisco. 2010

Anthology. Poetry, Literary Criticism, Political Essays, Interviews. Translators include Jonathan Richmond, formerly of the modern lovers.

Petrolio. Anna Goldstein, Trans. Pantheon Books. New York. 1997. “Unfinished” Novel.

Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poems. Norman MacAfee, Trans. Ed. Far, Strauss Giroux. New York. 1982. Selections from Le ceneri di Gramsci, including the eponymous poem; La religione del mio tempo; Poesia in forma di rosa; Trasumanar e organizzar (from all of Pasolini’s non-self published  poetry books from 1957-1971 except L’usignolo della chiesa cattolica.)

Roman Nights And Other Stories. John Shepley. The Marlboro Press. Marlboro Vermont. 1986. Stories from Alì Dagli Occhi Azzuri (1965)

Roman Poems. Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Francesca Valente, Trans. City Lights Books. San Francisco. 1986. Preface by Alberto Moravia. Includes poems from of Le ceneri di Gramsci.

Theorem. Stuart Hood, Trans. Quartet Books. London 1992. Translation of Teorema (1968 novel.)

A Violent Life. William Weaver, trans. Carcanet. Manchester, UK. 2007. Translation of  Una Vita Violenta. Aldo Garsanti Editore. 1972. Novel.

Books on Pier Paolo Pasolini in English:

Acker, Kathy. My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini. In Literal Maddness. Grove Press. New York. 1987. “Experimental” “fiction” very useful. Develops a queer and poetic context for Pasolini. Focuses on his death.

Friedrich, Pia. Pier Paolo Pasolini. Twayne Publishers. Boston. 1982. Two chapters of intellectual biography. Chapters on the posthumous works, Le meglio ginoventù (1954 edition of the complete Friulian poems;) Ragazzi di vita; Le ceneri di Gramsci; Teorema; Manifesto per un nuovo teatro” and  Orgia (play staged in 1968;) and Pasolini’s last poems. Special attention paid to style and ideology.

Gordon, Robert C. Pasolini: Forms of Subjectivity. Clarendon Press. 1966. Sections on Pasolini’s journalism, poems, cinema, and Petrolio (unfinished novel.). Each section takes its object as an expression of a fragment of Pasolini’s subjectivity.

Greene. Naomi. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Cinema As Heresy. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1990. Chapters on Pasolini in Casara, his move to Rome and his relationship to the cinema; Accattone, Mamma Romai and the neo-realist inheritance; the “end of ideology” in Le cenri di Gramsci, Uccellacci e Ucellini, La Religione del mio tempo, La ricotta and Comizi d’amore and Il Vangelo secondo Matteo; Pasolini’s film theory; myth in Pasolini’s films after Uccellacci e Ucellini; the Trilogia della vita, Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma.  eros and the rise of the ultra left in 70s Italy.

Maggi, Armando. The Resurrection Of The Body: Pier Paolo Pasolini From Saint Paul to Sade. University Of Chicago Press. Chicago. 2009. Pasolini as ambassador from Sodom, the “land of total destruction,” with attention to “the internal logic of his artistic expression.” Chapters on Saint Paul (unfilmed screenplay;)Porno-Theo-Colossal (unfilmed screenplay;) Petrolio, (unfinished novel;) and Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma.

Peterson, Thomas Earling. The Paraphrase Of An Imaginary Dialogue: The Poetics and Poetry of  Pier Paolo Pasolini. Peter Lang. New York. 1994.   Chapters on Paolini’s dialect poetry (Del dairio, “La scperta di Marx,” Roma 1950 — un diario, Il canto poulare, Le ceneri di Gramsci;) Pasolini’s use of Giovanni Pascoli’s poemetto (a “deviant” mode of the cyclical tercet) “Il pianto della scavatrice,” La riligione del mio tempo; and Pasolini’s essay on Pascoli “Passione e idologia;” Pasolini’s thoughts on dialect poetry in the eraly 1960s, Paolini’s essay on Andrea Zanzotto entitles “La belta (Apunti;)” Clemente Robora, Poesia in forma di rosa and its predecessors; La divina mimesis; “Manifesto per un nuovo teatro,” Calderòn, Trasumanar e organizzar. Features (Peterson’s ?) translation of “Il pianto della scavatrice” under the title “The Steam Shovel’s City.” Partial translations of Pasolini and poems from his contemporaneous and historical context, analyses of the critical reception of various Pasolini works, close readings of poems, attention to the poetic and overall literary context as well as the Italian Marxist context.

Rhodes, John David. Stupendous Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome. University Of Minnesota Press.  Minneapolis. 2007. Chapters on 20th century the urban history of Rome with special attention to development and the roots of Italian urbanism; Pasolini’s arrival in Rome, his work as a screenwriter and its cinematic context, his poetry, and Raggazi di vita; Accattone as an urbanist critique of neorealism; “Il pianto della scavatrice” (poem from Le cendri di Gramsci) and the construction of Roman housing projects in the 1950s; Mamma Roma, the Tuscolano II housing project and contemporaneous INA Casa development; Pasolini’s later films as allegories with emphasis on Uccellacci e Ucellini. This book is the best reading on Pasolini’s political potential in English. Clearly written, through, precise and engaged with various styles of Marxism. It is also the book that convinced me that Pasolini’s expressive production should be understood as a movement away from aesthetic production, despite the fact that the author does not make the argument.

Rohdie, Sam. The Passion Of Pier Paolo Pasolini. British Film Institute / Indiana University Press. Bloomington, IA. 1995 Experimental theoretical text on Pasolini and contemporaneous would culture with a focus on cinema and film theory. Contains fragments of writing from Pasolini and others. Emphasizes mythopoeic approach to Pasolini. Attempts “free-indirect” or “dialogical” composition.

Rumble, Patrick and Bart Testa. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Contemporary Perspectives. University of Toronto Press. Toronto. 1994. Articles on Nico Naldini’s (Pasolini’s cousin) recollections of Pasolini (Naldini;) the Roman Novels and the Italian Communist Party, 1956 (Joseph Francese;) Pasolini, Andrea Zanzotta (linguist and school teacher who worked on language acquisition in children) and pedagogy (Jennifer Stone;) Paoslini’s writings of the 1970s (Walter Siti;) Free indirect discourse (oratio obliqua , but confused with “reported speech” as such. Reported speech also includes direct and indirect discourse.)  Argues that Pasolini uses “free indirect” to mean any device that produces ambiguity (Paolo Fabbri;) Pasolini’s film semiotics as interpretation and not ontology (Giuliana Bruno;) Pasolini and materialist linguistics (Silverstra Mariniello;) Pasolini, the long take, editing and knowledge (David Ward;) “The Manifesto for a new Theater” (translated and introduced by David Ward;) Accattone, Mamma Roma, Dante and the way of the cross (P. Adams Sitney;) Deindividuation in Il sangelo secondo Matteo and Teorema (Bart Testa;)  Social and economic analogies in the Trilogia della vita (Patrick Rumble;) S Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma. and the refusal of cinematic consumption (Naomi Greene;) “Tetis” a short text on the Trilogia della vita Pasolini wrote in 1973 (Translated by Patrick Rumble.) Some of the articles are considered standards (Greene, Rumble, Testa, Ward,) some are filled with ad hoc psychoanalytic theory and shallow research (Stone, Fabri.) Schwartz, Bath David. Pasolini Requiem. Pantheon Books. New York. Biography of Pasolini with a somewhat conservative liberal humanist bent. Stylistically messy. The author feels free to judge Pasolini and as a correspondent writes, seems to have published every note he has ever taken. Worth consulting as it contains some useful data.

Schwenk, Bernard and Michael Semff eds. Pier Paolo Pasolini and Death. Hatje Cantz. Munich. 2006. Texts on “Pasolini and death” (Giusepe Zigaina;) Pasolini’s aesthetic of the “drawn out moment” (Schwenk;) the influence of Roberto Longhi on Pasolini’s use of art (Marc Weis;) The theme of motif in Pasolini (Roberto Chiesi;) “Transmediality” and pastiche in Pasolini (Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer;) Pasolini’s drawings (Smeff;) Pasolini’s 1969 poem Patmos (in Italian, not translated;) a conversation between Peter Kammerer and Zigaina; the “new fascism” ( Loris Lepri;) Paoslini’s last television interview (with Philippe Bouvard.) Also a photographic timeline and plates, plates, plates (including some Pasolini drawings and paintings … )

Siciliano, Enzo. Pasolini A Biography. John Shepley, Trans. Random House. New York. 1982. Biography of Pasolini by a friend and collaborator of Pasolini’s who also worked with Moravia and was at one time head of RAI, Italian state television. Original version published in 1978. Bent on proving that Pasolini’s murder was a right wing conspiracy. Very vague Marxism. As a correspondent writes “a whiff of homophobia.”

Viano, Maurizio.  A Certain Realism: Making Use of Pasolini’s Film Theory and Practice. University of California Press. Los Angeles. 1993. Chapters on Accattone; Mamma Roma; La Ricotta (contribution to collective film RoGoPaG😉 La Rabbia; Comizi d’amore; Sopraluoghi in Palestina; Il Vangelo secundo Matteo; La Terra vista dalla luna (contribution to Le streghe) and Che cosa sono le nuvole? (contribution to Capriccio all’italiana;) Edipo Re; La sequenza del foire di carta (segment of Amore e rabbia,; Apunti per un film sull’India; Toerema; Porcile; Medea; Apunti per un’Orestiade Africana; Le Mura di Sana’a (documentary short / appeal on Yemen;) La trilogia della vita; Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma; as well as Pasolini’s film and literary theory and its intellectual context. The introduction compares Pasolini to Nietzsche. Though it reads a bit like a post modern chestnut, Viano almost works enough to establish the genealogical dimension in Pasolini. Throughout the book, Viano shows that Pasolini constantly questioned dominant values without necessarily pointing to the role history and philology play in Pasolini’s films. Perhaps if he had included poems …

Ward, David. A Poetics Of Resistance: Narrative and the writings of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Associated University Presses. Ontario. 1995. Chapters on the Friulian Novels (Atti Impuri, Amado mio, Il sogno di una cosa;) the Roman Novels (Ragazzi di vita, Una vita violenta;) Empirismo eretico; Pasolini’s journalism, six verse tragedies and “Il Manifesto per un nuovo teatro.” “The Manifesto for a New Theater” translated as an appendix. Considers Pasolini’s revolutionary ,or resistant, aspects in light of his “poetic” historiography. Comes close to presenting Pasolini and a genealogist. Introduced with a useful short survey of Italian, British and US critical reception.  

 Watson, William Van . Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Theater of the World. University Microfilms Inc. 1989. Chapters on psychoanalysis (death drive) in Pasolini’s work, life and critical reception; the contemporary (contemporaneous) Italian theater; “The Manifesto for a New Theater;” Calderòn; Affabulation; Pylades; Porcile (play;) Orgia;, Bestia da Stile; productions of Pasolini’s plays; and Pasolini’s plays and post-modernism. Useful for information on Pasolini’s theater.

Cinema And Urbanism: Rome Open City, Subjectification, Homophobia, The Third Man. raw class notes for 1.10.2011

Rome Open City: an “open” city not to be used as a transfer point for troops or materials, excluded from military operations, not to house a military government (Forgacs, 31;)

an open city whose designation became ironic (Forgacs, 32;)

a city of “occupied allies” (Forgacs, 33;)

a city where Catholic priests and communists conspire against a common enemy;

a city where partisans escape the occupiers on roof tops;

a city where fascists march with difficulty, but partisans suddenly appear (Forgacs, 40;)

a city where women loot bakeries; a city where drug addicts who shelter and betray communists depend on occupiers for cocaine;

a city where little boys sabotage train yards; a city where a pregnant woman gets shot running after her arrested fiancé;

a city where, under the allied occupation, when Rome Open City was made, the economy “collapsed and inflation and the black market were rife” (Forgacs, 28.)

a city of memorials and bitter economic miracles.

We study film and urbanism because, as Guy Debord says “Of all the affairs we participate in, with or without interest, the groping search for a new way of life is the only aspect still impassioning. Aesthetic and other disciplines have proved blatantly inadequate in this regard and merit the greatest detachment.” (Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography.) This also explains my attempt to develop an anaesthetic approach to film, which despite the insistence of film theorists in the first half of the 20th century that it is an art.

In June1943, after the allied invasion of Sicily, the Grand Fascist Counsel passed a motion of no confidence and Benito Mussolini was deposed and arrested. The titular head of state, King Victor Emmanuel II continued in his role. Germany, fearing that Italy would dessert the Axis in the face of an Allied invasion that had started in Sicily and was working it’s way north occupied the central and northern parts of the country. In September 1943, after the new Italian state had surrendered to the Allies, German troops liberated Mussolini. Adolf Hitler installed Mussolini as dictator if the new Italian Social Republic (known as the RSI) with Sàlo as it’s capital. After an allied bombing , Rome was declared an open city on August 14 by Victor Emmanuel’s government and then again in the terms of the surrender  and then again  on September 10, by an agreement between the German military command and the allies.   On September 23, 1943, German paratroopers occupied the center of Rome. In the period when Rome was officially an “open city” it was supposedly under the control of the RSI, but in fact under German military rule and was bombed repeated by the allies. For the resistance, the importance of the city’s designation as “open” marked the illegality of the German occupation (Forgacs, 32.) The underground sought to attack German lines of communication, to prevent them from marching with impunity through the city (32-3)

After the “liberation” of Rome,” “U.S. Rear Admiral Emory W. Stone expropriated Cinecittà as a refuge camp and tried to suppress the “so called Italian film industry” on the grounds that it had been “invented by the fascists” (Gallagherr 116.) Under German occupation, Cinecittà has been used to store munitions (Forgacs, 30.) (Note that the name “Cinecittà’ suggests a city of cinema or a city of film production.) circumstances  forced Rossellini and his crew into the streets and a rented 60 by 180 foot basement at 30 via degli Avignonesi used as a studio (136.) The basement was a semi-crypt, reminiscent of the torture chamber in the film. The interiors were shot on sets at night because electricity was more reliable than in the day. When necessary the production stole current from the offices of the US Army newspaper The Stars And Stripes (136.) This basement was just south east of Piazza de Spagna. Outside, the city’s memory of the war intervened in the production. During the shoot of the scene where Pina sees her man taken to prison, chases the truck and gets gunned down, a crowd came to watch the shoot on Via Ramondo Montecuccoli. They reacted to the sight of the German Army, or those playing the German army, by spitting, throwing stones and yelling “go make a movie somewhere else” (115-6) Marina Teresa Gullace, the woman whose death formed the basis for this episode was actually shot outside of the barracks where her fiancé was held prisoner as he leaned out of the window to killer her, but the film moves the murder to the same street as the roundup (Forgacs, 15.) During another shoot in which the Gestapo arrest Don Pietro and Manfredi, the DP, Ubaldo Arata, was shooting from a hidden vantage point in a door way and a trolley conductor stopped his train and attempted to intervene (156.)  At this point the war was still going on in the north of Italy. Rossellini’s goals in making Rome Open City emerged from the circumstances. He wanted to  “break the industrial structures of those years, to be able to conquer the liberty to experiment without conditions … when to kill the industrial structures of cinema you leave the sound stage … and shoot on the street, like someone who lives there, you discover as a result that you possess a style” (Gallagher, 138.)

Rome Open City depicts a geography of resistant Italians and evil Germans. Even the fascists among Rossellini’s Italians seem to act against their wills. “The New Italian cinema would make the Germans scapegoats for everything” (Gallagher, 117.) Rossellini shows the city of occupiers from above and the city of citizens and the resistance, the underground,  from below (Forgacs, 35.) He breaks Rome up into a center and peripheries. In the center we find the Gestapo headquarters along with Don Pietro’s church. In the peripheries, a working class district for Pina and Marcello and, less distant from the center, a bourgeois district for Marina. (35.) (The division of cities into center and periphery will be crucial through out our project this term.) In the period immediately following the Allied capture of Rome from the Nazi’s, Rossellini considered a film in episodes to be the only production possibility because of industrial conditions. (Gallagher, 120.) The episodes he had in mind were confined to specific areas in Rome. Rossellini’s concern for the specificity of each area can be felt in accounts of the first discussions between Rossellini, Sergio Amidei and Alberto Consiglio, the inititial moment of Rome Open City’s development. Rossellini rejected a story (originally for another film) from Amidei about story about a black marketer who lived in the Piazza de Spagna because such a man would not live in that neighborhood. The conversation lead to the idea of a priest sought by the Germans. The Piazza de Spagna, in the northwest corner of the map in Forgac’s monograph, served as the location where the soldiers march at the beginning and Amidi’s in the neighborhood which had been the site of actual communist meetings was used as Manfredi’s (Forgacs, 16.) The producer, Countess Chiara Politi apparently insisted on the combination of the episodes into a more or less continuous narrative (Forgacs, 14.)

Though the occupiers see the city from above, as Tom Conley points out in Cartographic Cinema, they seem to know nothing about the city. When the soldiers ask an old woman where they are, and she tells them it’s the Spanish embassy, near the famous Spanish stairs (71.) The city seen from above functions as a kind of map, and we see the occupiers in scenes with maps. For example, in Bergmann’s office in the Gestapo headquarters, an office with a door that leads to the salon and beyond it to the torture chamber. a map of Rome divided into 14 zones according to the Schröder plan, a map of the region around Rome and a map of the world hang on the wall (Conley, 69-73.)

Views of the city from below show us how it is used. (Here, Forgacs paraphrases Michel Decertau’s “Walking In The City” (From The Practice Of Everyday Life,)(Forgacs, 36.) The same map of the Roman region seen in Bergmann’s office hangs in Francesco’s apartment where Pina and Manfredi talk, but the context changes it. Instead of looking at the map and talking about the plan to end the resistance, Manfredi tells an a love story about Marina while the camera shoots him almost like part of the map and Pina tells him she is pregnant. The characters here seem to become the map rather than using it in a hunt (Conley, 76.)

Forgacs cites Italo Calvion and Marina Corti’s claim that Neo-realist  films about the resistance work with “already shaped” (22) expressions of events rather than directly transcribing real world events. The films, paintings, fictions, sculptures, newspaper reports etc listed by Forgacs can be seen as elements of material culture immanent the filmmakers’ consciousness of events at the time the movies were made. Their mediation takes the formed of a material trace of the memory of what happened in the city of Rome. They were virtual features of the cityscape, as real, if not as actual, as the locations that Forgacs cites as a “documentary” feature (22.) Perhaps the many maps in the mise-en-scene of Rome Open City point to this.

Forgacs calls Rossellini’s Rome a simulacrum (35.) The simulacrum works by expressing various zones, divided into into views from above and below as well as into center and periphery. Each division produces a different affect and supporting a specific mode of consciousness, as Debord suggests in his “Introduction.” Formally, the film associates views from below with characters from the periphery and views from above with characters from the center — Gestapo headquarters is in the center and in a sense all occupiers come from there in the film. The Germans started the occupation of Rome in fall of 1943 by landing paratroops in the middle of the city. Yet, the film combines the terms in every possible ways. Don Pietro’s church is in the center and he uses the city to work with the underground, seeing it from below. The articulation of center and periphery with views from above and below in various ways becomes a formal machine for producing character subjectivity — a combinatorial scheme for subjectification.

At the center, one form of power, the Gestapo, embodied by Bergmann, polices maps (Forgacs, 36.) They have divided the city into 14 zones within which they hunt down resistors. “Every Day I take a long walk around the streets of Rome without leaving my office,” says the Nazi.

In the decentralized space of the peripheries, seen from below, the power of resistance uses the city to hide from Nazi surveillance and fights the occupiers (Forgacs, 38.)  In our last session, someone noted the intensive, hidden spaces of the Rome in this film. The underground burrows —improvises furtive movements. “Public transportation was reduced to a trickle and the use of bicycles was first restricted to daylight hours and then banned altogether” ((Forgacs, 40.) Even the ambulances carry German soldiers instead of medics (Conley, 72.)  Very few who saw the city from below could afford cars and the Nazi’s restricted driving. Here we see the other face of the utilitarian concern with traffic flows Debord criticizes in his “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography.”

The zigzagging horizontal movements below map a social geography: Manfredi’s moves away from his Piazza di Spagna to working class Rione Presrino near the city’s edge where Francesco lives (note the urban organization in which the center is rich but the periphery poor, so characteristic of European cities;) the vertical networks allow secret activity in Franceso’s building; the attack on the convoy bearing the prisoners happens the new E42 suburbs southwest of the city; Marina betrays Manfredi in her  apartment in the bourgeois Parioli just northwest of the city center. (Forgacs, 41-2.) These movements shape give the film’s narrative the form of an anatomy: a catalogue of knowledge that can take the an episodic that errs through a variety of spaces inhabited and used by various social types favored by Federico Fellini throughout his career. (Remember, Fellini contributed to Rome Open City’s screenplay.)

The staircases with apartments off of it in the 7 story tenement built around a courtyard where Pina lives in Via Montecuccoli typifies the then new peripheral working class Italian neighborhods. As I mentioned last time, the tenement in M (Lang, 1931) shares certain features with this one. We will see more of the Italian version in the Pasolini Films, where they play a string role as they spring up pushing Rome’s periphery further and further out.

The zones simulated by Rome Open City depict the very opposite of those imagine by Chtcheglov in his “Formulary for a New Urbanism” and add to  Rome’s tragedy. After the war the Roman’s got the marshal plan and a city of memorials (as Forgac points out.) Instead of the potential to create their own spaces where “roots think of the child and where the wine is finished off with fables from an old almanac” (Chtcheglov,,) Romans accepted economic miracles (a name as ironic and boring as the names of streets and business listed in the formulary) and the necropoleis of mourning and heritage.

Perhaps we can understand Forgac’s “simulacrum” as meaning a map of subjectification; perhaps Rossellini invents a cinematic cartography that shows not just events and their mediation but also how Romans became themselves in a given historical period. What happens if we understand Rome Open City as an attemptted psychogeography, defined as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals” (Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography?) Perhaps the selection of districts can be understood as similar to the cut up procedure used in the Situationist International’s psychogeographic maps; perhaps the lines of flight and escape followed by the characters in the films can be seen as related to, but not identical with derives. To speak like Debord’s “Exercise In Psychogeography” (,) we might say that at this stage in his career, “Rossellini is brutally psychogeographical in cinema.” The zones he marks in Italian cities have nothing to do with the famously overwhelming beauty others see in them. Nothing to do with descriptions like the following from André Bazin’s essay on Neoralism:

The Italian city, ancient or modern, is prodigiously photogenic. From antiquity, Italian city planning has remained theatrical and decorative. City life is a spectacle, a comedia del arte that the Italians stage for their won pleasure. And even in the poorest quarter of the town the coral like grouping of the houses, thanks to the terraces and balconies offer outstanding possibilities for spectacle. The courtyard is an Elizabethan set in which the show is seen from below, the spectators in the gallery being actors in the comedy. A poetic documentary was shown at Venice consisting only of shots of courtyards. What more can you say when the theatrical facades of the palazzi combine their operatic effects the stage-like architecture with the stage like architecture of the houses of the poor? Add to this the sunshine and the absence of clouds (chief enemy of shooting exteriors) and you have explained why the urban exteriors of Italian films are superior to all others (Bazin, 28-9)

By contrast Rossellini’s Rome looks like concentration camp from our contemporary perspective. The film’s opening pan looks left (west) from Viale Trinità over the Tiber River, The last looks right from the opposite side of the river and shows the boys going home with St Peters Basilica and other famous buildings behind them (Forgacs, 35.) For Gallagher, the last shot implies the coming of spring and the end of the war. As I argued last time, form our twenty first century vantage point the last pan can be understood as showing us that cities have become death camps, areas that subject life to complete control. When seen as the boarders or enclosure of the Rome Open City’s map or simulacrum of Rome, the first and last pan support my understanding. When seen as a progress between two views, it might support Gallagher’s.

Psychogeography seems full of political potentials, but of course, it can easily go awry. Any psychogeographic approach to Rome Open City must take into account The films homophobia. Perhaps in a city, sexualities, the hatred of sexualities, and the feeling that sexualities need to controlled take an especially urgent form — a form produced by the chronotopes (space /time) of  (imagined) cities.  As Forgacs points out, the anatomy of social types, what he calls “the “opposition of social worlds” (47,) and political identities in the film creates an opposition of sexual identities. The film values that opposition in terms of good and bad in as simplified a way as it does the opposition between liberation seeking Italians and vicious totalitarian Germans.

The heterosexual pregnant and martyred Pina figures the good feminine and the drug addicted, treasonous lesbian Marina the bad feminine. While we could take many approaches to thinking out the film’s homophobia, in the context of urbanism we might start by looking at the way the film’s presentation of homophobia works with its simulation of Rome. Rome Open City associates Marina’s bad lesbianism, and Bergmann’s more vaguely suggested male gayness (Forgacs, 48)  with the city seen from above. While Marina, as an Italian sees the city from below, her lover pulls her up. German Ingrid, provides her with the cocaine that gets her high and she temporarily raises Marina’s class status. Rome Open City consistently associates homosexuality with a decadent bourgeoisie and Nazi power. As Forgacs points out, the film associates some locations with corruption, decadence and “feminine weakness” (49.) Her tirade explaining that she takes lovers in exchange for material comfort exemplifies the “blind fury so many unprivileged people are ready to defend their mediocre advantages” that Debord points out (“Introduction To a Critique of Urban Geography.”) Amusingly enough, the idea of happiness Debord attributes to such people also involves coke, though in the form of  the US’s favorite beverage. While there are many factors (the patriarchal character of the Italian resistance movement, catholic ideology, etc.) contributing to the movie’s homophobia, perhaps one way to imagine another urban politics of sexuality might be to imagine poor gay people in working class neighborhoods. Perhaps some of the political work of the films and poems by Pierre Palo Pasolini we will engage with soon consistz in precisely that simple shift along a map of Rome. Perhaps we might wonder how tonight’s film, The Third Man (Reed, 1949,) figures relationship between Holly Martins and Harry Lime — a relationship that Ray White points out can easily be, and has been, understood as a love affair between the two men (White, 19.) Unlike Rome Open City, The Third Man famously presents a city and a world without a moral center and never subjects the friendship in question to a system of judgment. Though of course the film does encourage its viewers to feel attraction and repulsion for Lime and Martins.

In addition to zones occupied by the allies, The Third Man maps and perhaps simulates Vienna with close ups of faces, rendering a fatigued cartography of a city hollowed out by World War 2 (White, 43.) Like Rossellini’s Rome, Reed’s Vienna also divides vertically and horizontally and correlates the difference to forms of power. When Lime tells Martins about his crimes, they are at the top of the great wheels arc. Welle’s famous speech refers to the “dots” in the ruins bellow. At the end Harry flees and dies below the city in the sewers through which he seeks a line of flight. Unlike Rome Open City’s division of views from above and from below, The Third Man divides the horizontal from the vertical via intensive movements, like the vibrations of the zither that the films opening titles appear over, ech shift in level bring about a variation in intensity.


Bazin, André. What Is Cinema? V 2. Hugh Gray, Trans. Berkeley. University of California Press. 1967.

Conley, Tom. Cartographic Cinema. Minneapolis. 2007. University Of Minnesota Press.

Chtcheglov, Ivan. “Formulary for a New Urbanism”

Debord, Guy. “Introduction to A critique of Urban Geography.”

— “Exercise in Psychogeography”

Forgacs, David. Rome Open City (Roma Città Aperta. London BFI. 2000

Gallagherr, Tag. The Adventures Of Roberto Rossellini. New York. Da Capo Press. 1998

White, Ray. The Third Man. London. BFI. 2003.


anaesthetic film studies

Film 571: Film  & Urbanism [call # 03623]

Assistant Professor Louis-Georges Schwartz

School Of Film, Ohio University

Winter Quarter, 2011

Monday 6:10 PM- 10 PM

Office: 381 Lindley Hall

Office Hours: 8 AM to 12:00 PM Tuesday & Thursdays, Friday by appointment.


A city where we would want to live … a city filled with a world’s worth of misery … a city that turns it’s inhabitants into revolutionaries … a radiant, sleepless city … a communized city that develops according the desires of all of who live there … a cinematic city.

What makes a city what it becomes? How does a city turn people into who they become?

Try to imagine a history of cinema that does not include cities. One has difficulty thinking of the development of projectors, processing labs and cameras completely outside the cities of the industrial age. Without urban audiences, would cinema have been able to maintain it’s economic base? Some have claimed that cinema has fundamental capacities for sociological analysis and anthropological observation — capacities that have often been used to think about urban space and to understand the ways that cities engender certain forms of consciousness. Throughout much of the twentieth century, films were a privileged medium for the articulation of subjectivity within specific “chronotopes” or space-times.

In this class we will examine ways that cinema has been used to investigate cities. To this end we will see 11 films in which urban areas play a prominent role and read a range of texts some treating addressing the films directly, some about the cities featured in the films and some on general theories of urbanism. Our basic methodology will be to correlate economic conditions to changes in urban space and the production of subjectivity in cities. For our purposes, the differences between documentary and fiction will not take on great importance; we will treat fictions as the expression of socio-economic factors.

We will begin with two films on about European cities in the wake of World War 2 Roma, città aperta, and The Third Man. These films will be accompanied by readings on the Situationist theory of unitary urbanism, monographs on the films, and a general introduction to cities as mise-en-scene. After Martin Luther King day we will see two films set in Rome by Pierre Paulo Pasolini accompanied by John David Rhode’s book about the director’s relationship to that city. I have designed this first group of texts to orient us to both the ways in which film has been used to analyze urban spaces and establish a Marxist approach to urban studies. From there we will watch Cleo From 5 to 7 in class, watch Alphaville on our own time and read essays addressing the physical layout of Paris and its specific modes of subjectification as well as a monograph on the Varda film. We will go onto link Escape From New York to the city’s financial crisis in the mid 1970s and the rise of neo-liberalism. Then we will consider Blade Runner in terms of the economics of Los Angeles and the emergence of a slightly different future in contemporary cities. The class will end with two films about contemporary cities, Jia Zhang-Ke’s 24 City and Thom Anderson’s Get Out Of The Car. The screening of Out Of The Car will take place on the Monday of exam week.

Research Project: A detailed outline of a paper on 3 or more films set in Rome will be due March 18th via email.  The paper must include research on the economics and urban development of Rome from sources not assigned for our class sessions and the films shown in class cannot be used in the paper. Students must meet with me during office hours the week of February 14th to discuss plans for the research project.


(Available through

Drake, Chris. Alphaville. University of Illinois. 2005.

Forgacs, David. Rome Open City. BFI. 2008.

Rhodes, John David. Stupendous, Miserable City : Pasolini’s Rome University Of Minnesota Press. 2007. (or

Ungar, Steven. Cleo From 5 To 7. BFI. 2008.

Van Toorn, Roemer et al. High-Rise & Common Ground . Valiz. 2008.

White, Rob. The Third Man. BFI. 2008.

Articles available via links or pdfs as indicated.

Monday January 3

Screening: Roma, città aperta (Rome Open City,) (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)

Monday January 10

Screening: The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)


“The City In Film” Michael Webb

“Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography” Guy Debord

“Exercise in Psychogeography” Guy Debord

“Situationist Theses on Traffic” Guy Debord

“Formulary for a New Urbanism” Ivan Chtcheglov


“Theory of the Dérive” Guy Debord

Rome Open City David Forgacs

The Third Man Rob White

January 18

Martin Luther King Day No Class

January 24

Screening: Accatone (Pasolini, 1961)


Stupendous, Miserable City : Pasolini’s Rome by John David Rhodes (first half)

January 31:

Screening: Mamma Roma (Pasolini, 1962)


Stupendous, Miserable City : Pasolini’s Rome by John David Rhodes (second half)

February 7


Cleo From 5 to 7 (Varda, 1962)

Alphaville (Godard, 1965)


Cleo From 5 to 7 Steve Ungar

Alphaville by Chris Drake

“Circles, Straight Lines, and Godard” by Ryder Hector Currie

“Analysis Of A City Map” by Siegfried Kracauer (PDF)

February 14

Screening: Escape from New York (Carpenter, 1981)


“Liberating The City: Between New York And New Orleans” by Jamie Peck

February 21

Screening: Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)


“Beyond Blade Runner : Urban control and the ecology of fear” by Mike Davis (PDF)

The New Spirit of Capitalism Part I Section 2 “The Formation of the Projective City” Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello (PDF)

February 28:

Screening: Amsterdam Global Village (van der Keuken, 1996)


High-Rise & Common Ground by Roemer Van Toorn, Jeroen Boomgaard, and Barbara Visser

March 7

Screening: 24 city (Er shi si cheng ji, )


Dudley Andrew Interview With Jia Zhang-Ke (PDF)

March 14

Screening: Get Out Of The Car ( Anderson, 2010)

Instructors may also report cases of academic dishonesty to the Director

of University Judiciaries for further action; however, by so doing, an

instructor does not in any way relinquish the right to assign a grade in

a course.  The student my appeal the grade through the

appeal-of-grade procedure of Section IV.C.3.  Any student

accused of academic dishonesty by University Judiciaries is entitled to

notice of charges being made against him or her and to a full

hearing.  If suspension or dismissal is recommended, the student is

further entitled to appeals procedures and will not be suspended or

dismissed from the University while appeals are in process.