Cult British Films
Class: Thursday 13.30-15.00 room 2.07
Office hours: Thursday 12.30-13.30 and Friday 15-16 room 4.15
Most students of English Studies are familiar with such acclaimed British films as Four Weddings and A Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Love Actually, and The King’s Speech, James Bond or the Harry Potter series. These titles are what one usually associates with British cinema and culture: famous actors, costume dramas, iconic historical figures, great literature, stylishness, dead-pan humour and romance. Whereas they definitely represent British cinema globally, there exist other titles that for generations now have excited the British public and critics but without the accolades of the above mentioned globally successful productions. Made on modest budgets, these quirky, often unpolished, bitter-sweet tales, with unexpected endings and unusual story-lines have gathered a smaller but nonetheless very dedicated group of followers. The aim of this course is to familiarise you with these lesser known titles that over the years have found their way to the heart of British and often global public.What makes a cult film and what creates fandom?
If… you want to be Bedazzled, Get Carter, do The Italian Job, meet The Wicker Man and The Man Who Fell to Earth, join the class to find out about the “other” side of British cinema, culture and society.
Assessment: 50% participation (you need to watch all the films and read all the texts – you may be tested on your knowledge – and always prepare at least 2 discussion points to each film/article; 50% short analytical note (2,000 words)
Week 1 (5.10) Introduction; watching Cruise of the Gods
Homework: 1) read “Cult Cinema: a critical symposium”, Cineaste, Winter 2008, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p43-50. 8p. (electronic library, pdf), 2)read introduction from justin_smith_withnail_and_us; 3) introduction from soren_mccarthy_cult_movies_in_sixty_seconds
Week 2 (12.10) Cult cinema: discussion; Introduction to Britain in the 60s; watching Bedazzled (1967)
watching fragments of The 60s, The Beatles Decade: Swinging 60s
Homework: 1) finish watching Bedazzled at home; 2) find fan pages devoted to the film or alternatively read user comments on imdb.com; 3) read Bedazzled article;
Week 3 (19.10) Bedazzled
Week 4 (26.10) No class: Christina Morin’s lecture ‘The Gothic Novel in Ireland, c. 1760-1829’ at 13.30 in room A5.
Week 5 (2.11) Bedazzled in remake – discussion
screening The Italian Job (1969)
Week 6 (16.11) Britain in the 70s; watching Get Carter (1971)
Homework: 1) finish watching it at home Get Carter
Week 7 (9.11) Get Carter (1971) cult following
Week 8 (23.11) Get Carter (1971) cult following
Homework: 1) read an article from Justin Smith’s With Nail and I and from Cult Movies in Sixty Seconds; 2) find fan pages devoted to the film or alternatively read user comments on imdb.com
Week 9 (30.11) Get Carter (1971) cult following
Week 10 (7.12) screening The Wicker Man (1973)
Week 11 (14.12) The Wicker Man (1973) discussion
Week 12 (21.12) The Wicker Man part 2
Homework: 1) watch The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976); 2) find fan pages devoted to the film or alternatively read user comments on imdb.com; 3) read the article from Justin Smith’s With Nail and Us
Week 13 (4.1) The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) discussion
listen to Kermode’s Cult Film Corner on The Man Who Fell to Earth here
Week 14 (11.1) Summary; analytical notes due by 28th of January
Examples of past analytical notes
The Wicker Man – good
Bedazzled essay (2) – very good
A few questions worth looking at before you get going:
- Who is the writer of the film? Has the screenplay been adapted from another work? (adaptation)
- Who is the director? (auteur studies)
- Who produced it? (independent or Hollywood, ideology)
- Who’s the target audience?
- What do promotional materials say about the film?
- Is the film part of any larger movement?
- When was the film made? (historical/political/cultural perspective)
- What genre/s is it? (iconography)
- How important is casting? (star studies)
- Formal qualities: mise-en-scene, soundtrack, colour, narrative, narration, lighting key (look for patterns, repetitions, recurring motifs, linear story, chronological order, open-ended, ambiguity, omniscient narration vs restricted narration)
- Which scenes are crucial for your analysis and support your argument? Exposition? Climax?
Possible topics for consideration:
- what is audience’s reaction to the cult film(s) online
- are remakes/sequels proof of their continued relevance?
- their presence in popular culture
- analysis of main characters/themes/soundtrack/scenes/visual motifs
- their appeal to the contemporary audience
- how localised or global are they
- how historical or universal?
- discuss and enumerate their cult features
- and more…
Please contact me if you require more assistance.