FT3LP-Landscape and Place in Film

Module Provider: Film, Theatre and TV
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Adam O'Brien

Email: adam.obrien@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
From the earliest years of cinema to the present day, landscape has provided one of the medium’s most pleasurable attractions, making armchair travellers of its spectators, as Walter Benjamin pointed out. While landscape has an essential but minor function as ‘setting’ in most cinematic genres, some films foreground their location as a central theme or motif. These may be films with social or cultural concerns, using landscape to emphasise the influence of a particular environment on its inhabitants, films with ecological concerns, using landscape to show the impact of people on the environment, or films which develop from the tradition of landscape painting, exploring the ways that this can be developed by film as a time-based medium. Through close study of a range of recent fictional films, documentaries and artists films, in conjunction with the growing critical literature on the topic, the module will explore the aesthetics and politics of landscape and place in film.

The module aims to familiarise students with a variety of films in which landscape and place have a significant dramatic or compositional function, beyond the conventional role of providing a setting or backdrop for action or a location for production. Through critical and contextual reading, students will discover the ways that landscape has been theorised by film scholars. Close analysis of individual films will develop students’ understanding of the specific qualities of films which are rooted in particular locations. More broadly, the module connects film analysis with wider aesthetic, cultural, geopolitical and environmental approaches to landscape and place.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the key critical debates about the representation and use of landscape in film;
- Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a range of ways that filmmakers have explored landscape and place in film as a formal, stylistic and thematic concern;
- Make rigorous analyses of individual film texts informed by these critical and theoretical perspectives;
- Relate their understanding of landscape and place in film to a range of other concepts introduced by the course, including mise-en-scène, authorship and the geopolitics of cinema.

Additional outcomes:
The module plays a significant role in the continuing development of other skills and competencies, which are central to the course. It is expected that the level of skills and competencies achieved in the following will be appropriate to the level of study: oral communication and argument in group situations; deployment of research using printed and electronic resources; critical analysis and coherent argument; undertaking self-directed, independent work; presentation of written work using IT; identifying and addressing problems in the analysis of films.

Outline content:
We will begin by looking at a range of fiction films in which landscape plays a significant role in the narrative, shaping the course of events and giving expression (through pathetic fallacy, for instance) to the characters’ feelings. Films studied might include the Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011), Le Quattro Volte (Michaelangelo Frammartino, 2010), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010), Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002). We will also look at some essay films and hybrid documentaries, in which the landscape is the main concern, including films by Patrick Keiller, Patricio Guzmán, Pat Collins and the directors associated with the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard. We will end the term by looking at experimental landscape films by Ben Rivers and James Benning, and finding out about recent interactive nature documentaries made for the National Film Board of Canada. Key readings will include Martin Lefebvre (ed.) (2006) Landscape and Film, W.J.T. Mitchell (ed.) (1994) Landscape and Power, essays by Ken Worpole and Doreen Massey and articles on the films. (Note: this outline content is indicative, and may vary in practice).

Global context:
The content of the module is international, and touches on a range of geopolitical concerns.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Within the two-hour class, a range of teaching styles will be used and may vary from week to week. Where appropriate, lectures will be used to establish contexts and introduce issues for discussion and debate. The dominant teaching form will be the seminar, which will concentrate primarily on close analysis of films and discussion of critical approaches. Seminars will require preparation in the form of weekly screenings and specified critical reading. Individuals or small groups may prepare short presentation papers as a basis for group discussion. Two films are screened on the module each week.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16
Supervised time in studio/workshop 32
Guided independent study 152
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Resubmission of failed coursework.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 27 April 2018


    Things to do now