So, I have just had a lit class dropped from my schedule and a film classes added, and while I cannot complain — the film class is an interesting opportunity, and a block of 3 hours which makes watching and discussing a film in a single go quite a lot easier — I am hurrying to put together a list of films we’ll be watching. It’s a mix of British and American films, through which students are supposed to be able to get a better handle on culture, history, and the commercial context of films. So far, my list includes (and this is in order):
- The Great Dictator
- The Muppet Movie
- You Only Live Twice (James Bond 007) & The Manchurian Candidate* (1962 version, not 2004)
- American Zombie
- The Godfather* & Brighton Rock
- Jungle Fever
- A Scanner Darkly
- The Stepford Wives
- His Girl Friday & Jackie Brown*
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail
- Brassed Off
- The Lady Vanishes & The Birds*
Films individually marked with an asterisk (*) are to be watched outside of class. The list is unbalanced, to be sure: far too few British films, even if we count 2001 and the James Bond as “British” to some degree (Clarke’s involvement in 2001; Bond being of British origin). Some might seem unlikely choices — The Muppet Movie, for example, though I want to use it to get a discussion going about kids’ entertainment in the English speaking world; or A Scanner Darkly as a way of getting at subculture, counterculture, and drugs in an American historical/cultural context — and there are other films I’ve considered including, but haven’t done. Are my students better served by being shown Almost Famous or The Godfather? Should I swap in one of the Star Trek films — or even Harold and Kumar Go To white Castle — for A Scanner Darkly? Some part of me really wants to show them The Revenge of the Nerds or Police Academy or maybe Airplane or something. American Zombie seems minor compared to many films, though it opens up the possibility of talking about politics differences between protest culture and “issue” politics in the US as compared to Korea. Finally, some part of me wants to show them one of those crazy Beatles movies, maybe during the same week as A Scanner Darkly. But I’m also wondering whether I wouldn’t prefer to include, say, Brazil in place of A Scanner Darkly… which would up the content of UK films in the list, but would also mean missing the whole 1960s drug culture/counterculture thing.
It’s a tough job… I rather wish I had a full year of classes in which to show films. Year-long courses do exist at the Universities I attended in Canada, but in Korea they seem not to — perhaps because of the long break between each semester, I’m not sure. I can think of many more films I’d like to show, but cannot. In one sense I’m approaching this the way the film class I took as an undergrad was taught: my prof, Don Kerr, selected a bunch of films most of us would never have gone and seen outside of the context of his class, including some on my list: Wings of Desire, His Girl Friday, The Lady Vanishes, and Brassed Off. Part of the point of the course is giving students a chance to watch films they likely wouldn’t otherwise look at, hence the inclusion of, say, Brighton Rock and Brassed Off and Jungle Fever. There is a bit of idiosyncracy — I mean, as with a reading list in a lit class, I’m going to teach films I like and think are worth seeing because they are exemplary films, while also being useful windows into culture and history — but I think that’s natural.
Anyway, I’m curious what reactions people have to this list… feel free in the comments section.