All 2 entries tagged History

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September 27, 2006

Why I Chose These Films

Well if you’ve discovered this blog and got to this part its probably because of the images illustrating the course I’m constructiong for Open Studies starting this coming January. I’m going to explain in this entry and future ones why I’ve chosen these particular films and what I hope the course will help to achieve. Please feel free to comment. A fundamental part of the point of the course is to contribute to a better understanding of European culture in general through its fantastic cinematic history, its not just a course for the sake of it.

The Weimar and Nazi period of German history is enormously rich and controversial. Much of this can be seen in its film output. Some of the best known directors in the World ever, emerged within German cinema of the Weimar period. Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Murnau and Pabst and infamously Leni Reifenstahl were just some of the well known names.

In this course I’m keen to get away from the rather dominant popular perception of German films as all about Expressionsim. Of course it was fascinating and helped to create a powerful film industry second only to the USA in the 1920s.

Ironically one of the films we will be considering is _Metropolis _ which cost a huge amount of money and was designed to crack the American market through its development of spectacle. It flopped in the States and as a result an Americam company bailed out Ufa gaining a controlling interest and access to distribution rights throught the Ufa chain of premium cinemas. This weakness in the company allowed the arch nationalist media mogul Hugenberg to buy the American share and control the company. Unsurprisingly the Jewish Pommer was one of the first to suffer dismissal.

We are starting the course with a strange film called Double Headed Eagle. This film constructs a narrative of the Weimar period from 1918-1933 when Hitler takes power. It contains some fascinating archive footage including some of Eva Braun’s home movies. As with many things it does need to be judged on its absences as well. There is footage of Hitler campaigning in the countryside but no clear idea of how dreadful rural unemployment and poverty was from 1923 onwards. This really gave the Nazis a field day because of the twin speed economy that developed after the Dawes plan. The well off woman at the races is an image which could be used as part of the myth of the ‘golden years’ of the Weimar republic. I don’t want to be too hard on the film. I’ve just been searching the Web for images of rural unemployment in the Weimar during the 1920s drawing a blank. I did find this interesting site though of the German Historical Institute for those of a historical frame of mind. If anybody finds some good images of rural unemployment in the Weimar during the 1920s please wing me an email. The women at the races comes from the images and documents section of the GHI site by the way.

 A socialite horseracing, Berlin c 1925

Double Headed Eagle is cinematically interesting nevertheless, because it eschews the ‘voice of god’ style of documentary we are all so used to and uses images combined with music to convey its ideas.

Next entry will be on Nosferatu probably the best of German expressionist cinema.

September 26, 2006

Open Studies in European Cinema. Introduction

Introduction to the Blog

Initially this blog was designed as a delivery vehicle for my film studies course on Weimar and Nazi Cinema as a an experimental project with the intention that if successful it could be used as a model to deliver some of my other film studies courses.

This is still the main purpose of this site. however as I have learned more about blogging and as my thinking on blogging in an educational context developed I have started to place things on the blog which relate to other aspects of my working life. There is now a growing body of work on A Level Media Studies some of which is film related anyhow. There is also material on areas such as new media and newsbroadcasting. I hope that film studies studetns will check some of these out as they may have relevance to film in any case. There is now a separate introduction to the layout of the sidebar as I’ve collected so many feeds podcasts and things which I didn’t know existed previousl;y. The film material is near the top end which is what most of you need to know.

This is a blog about European Cinema

There are a couple of major objectives:
Firstly to create an effective educational vehicle for teaching European films Studies

Secondly using creative connectivity and links to work by students to make this site a premium website or collective of blogs which interested viewers, students, researchers etc will have as a key place to visit. This means having a range of materials and other links to quality and premium sites rrelating to European cinema.

Thirdly the work on European cinema based upon my courses has focused mainly upon the five major economies of Europe (Germany, Russia, Italy, France & the UK). This is in itself a huge undertaking and remains for the forseeable future the main developmental aim.

I hope you enjoy the course, the site and the possibilities and opportunities it offers, Ciao for now.

European Cinema, Lifelong Learning and New Media Technologies

It is designed to accompany my Centre for Lifelong Learning Courses on various aspects of European Cinema. It is hoped that a group project blog will eventually be established to accompany the various courses once everybody has become comfortable with blogging. This is all a part of an overall cultural planning educational project.

The course on offer in January 2007 is Weimar and Nazi cinema
Peter Lorre in M 4

A European Cultural Planning Project:
Creating European Cinema Studies Electronic Spaces

Cultural planning is about developing cultural initiatives from the ground up rather than having centralised dictats. One of the motivations for starting to develop courses about European cinema, was, that there was an audience out there who had enough interest and experience to want to develop their ideas. Furthermore they might want to fit their, probably eclectic, experience of European films into a more coherent mental framework.

Many organisations are struggling to maintain a lively and independent European cinema as this link shows.

We are now entering an era of electronic communications called ‘Web 2’. The underlying principle of Web 2 is the creation and maintenance of electronic spaces of participation and interaction in ways which challenge previously centralised models of the content & distribution of information. This link isn’t a recommendation, just an example of what is happening: What Web 2 achieves is the possibility to design and build projects collaboratively. The principle behind this is that lots of brains organised collectively around the same project area can be far more productive than the same number of individuals working in relative isolation. There is, in other words, an ‘added value effect’ in which both individual and society gain more: the infamous ‘Win-win’ situation.

A good example of this process in action was recent BBC coverage of the way a group of software enthusiasts were creating and developing an open source software web browser called Flock: . This was real face to face stuff alright, they even all brought their sleeping bags. You might wish to check it out. Currently I use Firefox but I’m going to practise with Flock.

The Course Structure

The Weimar & Nazi Cinema course 2007 will be different from the previous courses in that it is being driven by an underlying communications project. The project itself is the establishing, development and maintenance of a web-based resources and discussion which will act as focus for those interested in European cinematic culture both historically and for the future.

These electronic spaces will effectively be ‘owned’ by you as your contributions will be evaluated by both tutors and your peers. A key part of the project is to help develop an understanding and enthusiasm amongst a wider audience. As with any media project create and developing a target audience is fundamental. As producers of web pages, Wikis or Blogs you will need to bear in mind your target audience.

Dietrich + Jannings: Blue Angel

These electronic resources should be spaces which people visit for leisure and pleasure as well as information and active participation in the exchange of knowledge and ideas. Part of your learning over the term will be creating content for various electronic media and practising with the design available. Currently these are provided through University of Warwick and include Site-builder for creating a web-site and Blog-builder for creating your own Blogs. It is also possible to create a group Blog which I’m currently investigating. There will also be forums which will be kept internal at least for the present. It may well be that you feel they should be opened up. It may be possible to generate electronic quizzes and create an electronic quiz space. It depends what you want to do with it.

As with any course your contributions will be assessed in line with generic course requirements. Within those parameters your work can incorporate creative, design and planning projects relating to the electronic spaces. For example, you may wish to plan, and even hold, a real world event such as a day celebration of the work of a particular director which would be marketed through the electronic spaces.

Fritz Lang

It is always important to consider ways of blending electronic spaces with material places as physical presence and f2f are fundamental modes of human communication. Festivals and screenings, educational projects all have their place.

My planning objective is that this is a way of acting locally, to produce a contribution to communications globally, in ways which can be acted out locally in the future.

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