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Classic and Modern European Cinema

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

At a time when political and ideological divisions across Europe are growing stronger, this course will examine the history and aesthetics of European cinema from the earliest years to the present. From Expressionism to Neo-Realism and from the New Wave to the New Europe, these major currents and trends will be explored and students will discover how they have formed the film culture of Europe today.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

1. Shadows in Silver – European Cinema Before and During World War I

2. Democracy and Its Nightmares – German Expressionism

3. En Avant! – French Cinema from Avant-Garde to Poetic Realism

4. Fascist Follies – The Cinema of Authoritarian Regimes

5. Reborn from the Ashes – Italian Neo-Realism and Other Post-War Trends

6. Before the Revolution – European Cinema Before the New Wave

7. Be A Realist, Demand the Impossible! – French New Wave and Its Influence

8. Writing on the Wall – The Cinema of a Divided Europe, 70s and 80s

9. All Together Now? – Dogme and Disaster in a Post-National Europe

10. A New Cinema for a New Century – The Cinema in 21st Century Europe

Teaching method(s)

The course will take place on the Holyrood campus over a period of ten weeks.

Each session will follow the same pattern:

  • Introductory lecture which sets the film extracts within their context historically, socially and cinematically;

  • screening and group discussion of selected film extracts;

  • short space and the end for questions, comments and conclusions.

Students will be provided with background reading, reviews and criticism on a weekly basis. Reflection on the course will continue throughout with consideration of the learning outcomes and the general development of the course.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. recognise and explain key characteristics and influences of major national film movements;

  2. analyse the cultural and ideological factors influencing the creation process;

  3. identify recurrent themes and personal film styles in the work of a selection of major European film directors;

  4. evaluate the possibility of cinema as an expression of unified European identity.


Core Readings


  • Boardwell, D., Thomson, K., & Smith, J., 2016. Film Art: An Introduction. 11th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  • Ezra, E., 2004. European Cinema. London: Oxford University Press.

  • Nowell-Smith, G., (ed.). 1996. The Oxford History of World Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Sorlin, P., 1991. European Cinema/European Societies. London: Routledge.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.