Gerald M. Easter (Boston College)


Course Description
The course examines the uses and abuses of the film medium to project political messages. The class employs a critical analysis of explicit and implicit forms of political propaganda transmitted to popular culture. Each week has two sessions: first, themes are introduced in lectures and readings, which outline the political context and social setting in which films were made as well as the work of influential directors and particular film genres. Second, the film is viewed and followed with a discussion based on readings and lecture themes. This course combines Humanities and Social Sciences and includes two Italian films on the marquee.

Course Outline
-- A Mass Medium for Mass Politics: Propaganda Nation
1) From Revolutionary Montage to Socialist Realism
-October (Eisenstein)
2) Pagan Pageantries of Power: German Fascism
-Triumph of the Will (Riefenstahl)
3) Renewing Faith in Democracy: American Populism
-Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra)

--Righting Wrongs Around the World: The Western
4) Send in the Cavalry: Myth Making and Morality Plays
-Fort Apache (Ford)
5) The Lone Hero: From McCarthyism to Solidarity
-High Noon (Finneman)
6) Vigilante Justice and Spaghetti: The Cowboy through a European Lens
-The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone)

--Hollywood Goes to War: The Cold War as Tragedy and Farce
7) Post-War Paranoia and Fantasy Run Amok
-Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegal)
8) Vietnam and the Surrealism of War
-Apocalypse Now (Coppolla)
9) Demythologizing the Military and Nuclear Arms Race
-Dr Strangelove (Kubrick)

--Coming to Terms with the End of Empire, or Not
10) Doing Penance in Italy: Neorealism Reaction
-Open City (Rosselini)
11) The Spy Who Saved Britain: Flights of Fantasy
-From Russia with Love (Young)
12) Fear and Preemptive Justice in America: Science (non)Fiction
-Minority Report (Spielberg)

Teaching Methods and Goals
The class is organized around the movies, plus - lectures and readings, and critical discussions of films.
Evaluation of student performance is based on participation in class discussion and two writing assignments: (1) four in-depth review of a film from each of the four sections of the syllabus, 1000-1200 words each; (2) a final essay based on two or three films not shown in class, which incorporates analytical theme on politics and propaganda discussed in class as well as an assessment of the director’s vision and technique, 2000-2500 words in length; (3) and, the class will collectively make their own political propaganda - writing, directing, acting and editing.
The main goal is to cultivate student awareness of the multi-sided media barrage of propaganda that frames the social-political environment in which we live. In addition, the class provide a hands learning experience through the class film-making project.

Sample Reading List
--Selections from:
Edward Bernays, Propaganda
Eric Rentschler, Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife
Peter Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society: From the Revolution to the Death of Stalin
Richard Taylor, Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany
Ernest Giglio, Here’s Looking at You: Hollywood, Film and Politics
Peter Haas and Terry Christensen, Projecting Politics: Political Messages in American Films
Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund, The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community
Carolyn Weber, Imagining America at War: Morality, Politics and Film
Linda Dittmar and Gene Michaud, From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film
Simon Winder, The Spy Who Saved Britain: The Disturbing World of James Bond
Christopher Frayling, Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans
Peter Bondanella, Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272