Central European Cinemas within the Context of the World Cinema

Subject is not scheduled Not scheduled

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
311CEW ZK 3 4T English winter

Subject guarantor

Name of lecturer(s)

Learning outcomes of the course unit

By the end of the course students will:

-understand the cultural and historical elements which are the backbone of every film, while also applying film and cultural theory to a variety of visual media

-gain a deeper appreciation of cultural history and how it relates to their own creative processes with the aim of giving students tools useful in all aspects of the filmmaking process

-learn about and understand the key works of the centraleuropean cinema

-learn how to present their ideas and analysis in a clear, concise, and above all, effective manner

Mode of study


Prerequisites and co-requisites


Course contents

This course is part of a two-course sequence, one in each semester. Students can take either part without prerequisite, or both. First semester will focus intensely on Visegrad- Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish film. The follow up course Genre and Experimentation: Central European Cinema in Context will focus on a wider range of film movements and traditions (both avant-garde and popular) which have shaped Central European Cinema from within.

The Visegrad region of Central Europe has long been known as an artistic and intellectual island within the greater European sphere. Although ravaged by war, foreign occupation, and totalitarian governments for much of the last few centuries, the Visegrad countries (Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, and Poland) have managed to survive and often thrive as centers of culture and artistic experimentation. This course will focus on films from four of the largest cultural groups in the Visegrad region Central Europe (Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish) with the goal of examining how this region’s history has impacted its culture by looking at the four regions’ responses to identity, war, and domestic social problems. In addition to focusing on film theory, we will also be discussing cultural history and media theory, learning approaches to “reading” films not only as movies, but also as multi-faceted cultural artifacts. To this end, our readings will contain primary source materials on cinema history, historical research, film theory, and literature intended to broaden our understanding of the various cultures, visual and otherwise which inform cinema creation in this part of Europe.

Recommended or required reading

Required Reading

KAFKA, Franz. Before the Law/ Vor dem Gesetz

VOTRUBA, Martin. Hang ‘Em High: The Elevation of Jánošík to Ethnic Icon. In: Slavic Review, 2000, 65(1), s. 24-44. doi:10.2307/4148521.

MURPHY, Robert. Polanski and Skolimowski in Swinging London. In: Journal of British Cinema and Television, 2012, 9 (2), s. 214-229.

ROBINSON, David, HAMES, Peter. Redl Ezredes/Colonel Redl. In: The cinema of Central Europe. Ed. HAMES, Peter. London: Wallflower Press, 2004.

KUNDERA, Milan. The Tragedy of Central Europe. In: New York Review of Books, 1984, 26 April, s. 33-38.

BENJAMIN, Walter. Theses on the Philosophy of History. In: BENJAMIN, Walter. Illuminations. London: Pimlico, 1999.

MISTRÍKOVÁ, Ľubica. The Shop on Main Street. In: The cinema of Central Europe. Ed. HAMES, Peter. London: Wallflower Press, 2004.

SILVERSTEIN, Norman. Wajda’s New Film. In: Salmagundi, 1966, v1 n3 (19660101), s. 85-89.

BRILL, Ernie, RUBENSTEIN, Lenny. The Best are Dead or Numb. In: Cine´aste, 1981, v11 n3 (19810101), s. 22-26.

JUDT, Tony. The Legacy of War. In: JUDT, Tony. Postwar: a history of Europe since 1945. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.

LIEHM, Antonín J. MILOS FORMAN STORIES. New York: Routledge, 2018.

ŠIMEČKA, Milan. Letters from Prison. Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2002. XVIII, 154 s. ISBN 9788086264035

JUDT, Tony. Postwar: a history of Europe since 1945. New York: Penguin Books, 2005. XV, 933 s.

WILLIAMS, Richard. Deep Waters (accessible here: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2003/apr/19/artsfeatures)

FLEISHMAN, Jeffrey. The Greatest Czech Who Never Lived. (available online here: http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/the-greatest-czech-who-never-lived)

Supplemental Reading

Ladislav Holý, The Great Czech and the Little Czech Nation (excerpt)

Eric Hobsbawm, Bandits (excerpt)

Ewa Mazierska: European Cinema and Intertextuality (except)

Raluca Cernohoschi, “An An Empire of Borders: Central European Boundaries in István Szabó’s Colonel Redl”

Josef Škvorecký All the Bright Young Men and Women, (excerpt)

Ladislav Kirschbaum, “Slovak Nationalism in Czechoslovakia”

Egon Bondy, Translated Poems (excerpts)

Milan Kundera The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, (excerpt)

The Cambridge Companion to the Organ (p.43-49)

Alexander Dubček. Action Program.

Assessment methods and criteria

Students work is assessed according to class attendance, class participation, a short answer midterm (900-1200 words) and a Final paper (1200-1500 words).

The course grade will be calculated as follows:

Class Attendance— 25%

Class Participation — 25%

Midterm — 20%

Final paper — 30%



Further information

Course may be repeated

No schedule has been prepared for this course

The subject is a part of the following study plans