FILM 2115 THE HISTORY OF FILM PART I             SYLLABUS                                             DEPARTMENT OF FILM JOHN BEATTY                                                                 FALL 2023                                               BROOKLYN COLLEGE

1. The course meets Mondays from 9:30-1:10 (not 9:31 t0 1:00) Do NOT come late or leave early. The comings and goings of people during the class is annoying to the people who come on time and are interested. If you are not sure you can get to class on time, leave home earlier to get here on time. Allow for train delays and long lines at Starbucks abductions by UFO’s and other possible excuses for oversleeping

2. Because the class is long, there will be a short break during the class just before the film is shown. This will hopefully keep to an absolute minimum the comings and goings that disrupt the audience trying desperately to view the film

3. Brooklyn College is a believer in conversion days so sometimes "Monday" classes meet on "Mondays" and some days "Monday" classes meet on other days. For this reason, Brooklyn College labels them ,"Monday classes" In the case of this Monday class, we do NOT meet on the following MONDAYS:

Monday Sept. 4th (College is closed)
Monday Sept. 25th (No classes)
Monday October 9th (College is closed)
BUT we DO meet on
Tuesday October 10th

4. A. There is a text book for the course A History of Narrative Film by David A Cook, Pearson

B. Other texts (minus dates and pages since different editions vary these) that may be useful although not required are:

a. Mast, Gerald and Bruce E. Kawin A Short History of the Movies Pearson Boston. It is currently in its 11th edition. The updated edition differs largely in terms of the inclusion of more recent films, but for Part I of the history of films - there have not been any new films recently made prior to 1941, so by and large any edition will do relative to the material for this course.
b. Rausch Andrew J. Turning Points in Film History by Citidel Press, Kensington Publishing Corp. NY
c. Wexman, Virginia Wright. A History of Film Pearon Books, Allyn and Bacon

You can find the books on Amazon, E-bay and Alibris and probably other sites as well.

C. On occasion, an additional bit of reading may be posted on the web site.

5. GRADES There will be an in class final (60%) and a paper (40%). If you miss more than 2 classes the college requires that you recieve a grade of "F". Other than that, attendance does not have an impact on your grade.

(a) The paper is due NO LATER THAN October 23 (you can submit it earlier. (No rewrites). The final lasts two hours (from the stated starting time, not when you decide to join us).

6. HELP! (Not the Beatles’ film)
Get the name and contact number for the person sitting next to you or near you or whom you would like to get to know. This will preclude you from telling me you weren’t cheating during the exam you were just trying to get the name of the person sitting next to you. It is considered bad form to ask people their GPAs in order to have a seat next to someone with a higher GPA than yours, Each week there is a lecture and one of more films will be shown. There will be a discussion after the film. While you may be able to view the film away from the class this is not the case for the lectures and discussions. Therefore, it behooves you to show up for class. Of course, if you manage to miss class or two (or three or four) you need to contact the person whose name you obtained and get the class notes. I will be happy to meet with you to discuss and issues you have with the material during my office hours or at some mutually agreed upon time, but I will not repeat the class notes for you. I have office hours for at least a half hour before the class and a half hour after the class. I will also NOT be happy if you make and appointment and then do not show up. My office is in room 225 of the West End Building (WEB)

7. There is a web sit for the class that is NOT on Blackboard, but is on my web site. The main address for the web site is

(NOTE: dot NAME; not COM and not dot EDU) When the site mystically appears you will see a list of things - You can ignore all of them except where it says "Film Courses" You should click on that. Now you will find a number of things one of which is "archived material" which you can ignore and one says "History of Film Part 1". When you click on that you can you will find the information for the course. If you want to go directly to the course, you can use this link:

7. General Behavior

a. As indicated above attendance is mandated by the college and there is a requirement that a student fail the course if they miss more than two classes. Attendance is taken each class meeting.
b. Coming late has also been mentioned above. Entering and leaving the class while it is in session is disruptive and should be avoided.
c. Turn off cell phones on entering the class (or earlier)
d. If you want to take notes on your lap top, you can do that, but do that, and don’ t pretend to do it and be on social media.


1. EARLY SILENT FILMS from shorts to stories

Actualities vs. fantasies Lumiere, Edison Muyerbridge Trip to the moon; Sherlock Junior and selected shorts

2. SILENT FILM - USA More complex story telling

Broken Blossoms D.W.Griffith a.Symbolism what is it and how it works in films
b.Codes, ciphers and hermeneutics.


Intolerance (1917) D.W. Griffith a. Cabiria

4. SERIALS and Other Short Subjects

Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars Chapter 1; "NY World’ s Fair"; Joe McDoaks, cartoon, Japan (various years)

5. Silent films - Soviet Politics Developments in editing

Strike (1925) Sergei Eisenstein a. Sergei Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Alexander Dovshenko
b. The nature and force of "montage" Montage
c. symbolism: code, ciphers and hermeneutics

6. Silent Films German expressionism

(English: Destiny) (1921) Fritz Lang a. Inside the mind - Caligari -> The Innocents

7. Impact on American Films

Sunrise:A Song of Two Humans (1927) F.W. Murnau German directors come to the US: Lang, Murnau

8. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences

Wings (1927) William A. Wellman, Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast a. Business as usual and otherwise
b. the formation of the academy and its purposes
c. Academy Awards

9. The "Arrival" of Synchronized Sound

The Jazz Singer (1927) a. Edison’s two employees dancing to violin
b. Full length sound film with Jolson before Jazz Singer
c. Problems of definition and impacts on "firsts"

10. Censorship Problems (The code and its development)

She Done Him Wrong (1933) Lowell Sherman a. Early censorship by local organization
b. Religious involvement
c. Scandals in Los Angeles
d. The Code and its development. Its growing impact on film over the years
e. Nudity, acceptable behavior, moral issues

11. The impact of "current events": The Depression arrives

King Kong (1933) Merian C. Cooper Ernest B. Schoedsack a. The arrival of the depression and escapist films from something fearful
b. Kong and the questions of interpretation. Whose? When? Why?
c. Consider remakes in historical light

12. Escape into horror

The Mummy (1932) Karl Freund a. Problems of interpretation in specific - Does anyone interpret Dracula, Frankenstein, or The Mummy as films about the depression? What about earlier films that are pre depression horror films?
b. relationship between genres - horror and science fiction in this case

13. That Wonderful Year of 1939 - The Western

1939 John Ford a. 1939 considered the WonderflulMagical year
b. The western grows up - or does it? Adult western?
c. Social criticism

14. Growth and Development in animation

Fantasia (1940) a. Early cartoons
b. Snow White multiplane animaltion
c. track to anime