Film: The Buddy-Road Trip Movie

This course introduces students to a range of approaches in the study of narrative film. Focusing on the buddy-road trip movie, a remarkably adaptable film subgenre, the course will draw on a wide variety of films and film excerpts from cinemas around the world that invite us, as viewers, both to travel and leave home—to cruise—and to be in close company with others. In this way, the course attempts to mitigate the ongoing effects of social distancing and stay-at-home orders in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Some of the narrative themes we will explore include gender, racial, and sexual alienation; boredom, listlessness, and angst; refuge and intimacy; criminality and law; nature and indigeneity; colonialism and adventurism. Along the way, we will survey cinematic techniques and test the relative usefulness of film theories centered on myth, structure, semiotics, and genre. Students will gain experience situating films within relevant historical and cultural contexts as well as analyzing and appreciating the “art of film” vis-à-vis screen narratives and images.

Assignments: six quizzes on the readings; six film viewing blog posts; one film analysis paper (4-6 pages); and a comprehensive take-home exam. Class participation will comprise a significant portion of the final grade. Attendance is mandatory.

Text: Course Reader to be purchased by students.

Films (subject to change): It Happened One Night, Transamerica, Y Tu Mamá También, Happy Together, Touki Bouki, Road to Bali, Weekend, The Doom Generation, The Living End, Wendy and Lucy, Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, Wild Strawberries, Vagabond, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle