This course will examine climate change through the lens of global cinema, and trace its expression across key geographical regions and historical moments, as well as across a variety of cinematic modes and genres, including apocalyptic drama, horror, science fiction, documentary, even romance and comedy, as well as its own emerging genre, “cli-fi.”
The invention of cinema and the scientific articulation of climate change both share their start in the late 19th century. Since the creation of the first “cinematographe” in France in 1895 to today, the cinematic apparatus has been uniquely positioned to render issues of climate change, often imperceptible to the human eye, visible — both overtly and covertly, and at times even unconsciously. While some films might offer concrete information and data about climate change, as is often the case with the non-fiction form, others may express real anxieties through imagined realms in science fiction, or projections of a dystopic future (or present) through horror. Further, the concerns, anxieties, fears, and responses provoked by a rapidly changing climate are profoundly shaped not only by genre, but by the time period, socio-political climate and culture from which these films emerge.
Through screenings, readings, class discussions, group projects and special guests, students will explore how film offers a unique mode for understanding climate change, and become familiar with a range of iconic and influential films from around the world, starting from the origins of cinema to the present day, while also developing knowledge of theoretical concepts and issues in the study of global cinema.