Posts Tagged ‘urbanism’

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)

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