Cinema and the Modern City
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Department: Media Studies
Course Number: NMDS 5126
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Film & Video History, Theory & Criticism
  • Urban Environment
  • Media Studies
This course will study the relationship between the rise of the modern city and the development of photography and cinema. We will explore how the experience of life in the modern metropolis led to the need for new forms of media, ones based on shock and reproducibility. Central to this thesis will be a reading of Walter Benjamins study of Paris as the capital of the nineteenth century, as his notion of the flaneur. Indeed, it is impossible to imagine the development of the cinema without the city, and cities themselves have been shaped by cinematic form. What is the relation between cityscape and screenspace? How has the modern city been represented in cinema? As utopian? Dystopian? We will examine the role played by cities and urban space in the cinema: Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong and others. We will explore the portrayal of these cities by particular filmmakers and study their role in shaping national cinema movements. We will study the work of some of the great filmmakers of the city and urban space: Dziga Vertov, Jacques Tati, Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, F.W. Murnau, and Wong Kar-Wai, among others.
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Graduate students.