COMPLIT 438 - Comparative Studies in Film
Section: 001 Hollyworld
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior standing.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

Hollywood has played a central — perhaps the central — role in inventing the script, heritage and mythology of America in the twentieth century. And there is much reason to think of its hard-boiled westerns, its vast celebrations of landscape, its six shooting guns, gangsters and outsider senators cleaning up Washington as icons of American distinctiveness. Hollywood’s larger-than-life images have been perfectly suited to a twentieth century America on the rise, full of expansive optimism. But who produced these scripts, images and myths if not a cast of immigrants? Studio executives were born Polish Jews. Directors arrived from England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, and Canada. Actors and actresses came from France, Sweden, and Mexico. They spoke Hinglitch (immigrant English) and brought the cultures of the world at large to the making of Hollywood films. Indeed their way of becoming American was to invent the America of their becoming courtesy of the silver screen. Hollywood, the place where the story of America got told, was an adjunct of Ellis Island, where immigrants were “processed” under the beneficent eye of the Statue of Liberty. The story of Hollywood is that of Hollyworld.

This fact, of the utmost importance for the understanding of Hollywood, and of America, will occupy the first half of the class. The second half will be about the Hollywoodization of the planet, and global ambivalence to it. As early as the 1920s Chaplin, Garbo and Valentino were worldwide stars as Hollywood exported its films across the world. Making films elsewhere than America has often meant figuring out how to deal with the influence of the Hollywood colossus. We will study the French New Wave, post-War German and Australian film with their brilliant, deconstructive assimilations of Hollywood movies. We will study alternative cinema and its resistance to what it considered the Hollywood/military/industrial complex exporting American capitalism, along with its strategies for making alternative, absolutely non-Hollywood films. And throughout we will study the system of production that turned Hollywood into a mega-corporation as vast and global as General Motors.

COMPLIT 438 - Comparative Studies in Film
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
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