This trimester will end very soon, so please let me know how you feel/felt about this course. You could write here, for example, about particular content you did not know at the beginning and have learned about in class, moments in the class you were surprised about or felt challenged with, points you think that could be improved or just simply look back at all films and how you think about them now, etc. Thank you so much for making this course better!!!
Professional driver Kowalski (Barry Newman) takes a bet to ride his Dodge Challenger R/T from Colorado to San Francisco in less than 15 hours. On his way he fights obstacles and gains supporters, like a blind radio DJ (Cleavon Little) who is able to scan the broadcasts of the police…
For this class I choose the uncut version that only was released in the UK and is seven minutes longer than the US movie. A typical example of a cult movie, this film was a critical as well as a financial failure upon its release in the US. However, after being successful in Europe, the film was re-released in a double bill with “The French Connection” (1971). Running in drive-in theaters and on TV afterwards, the film since then has gained a respectable cult following. Steven Spielberg has named it among his favorite movies (there are some analogies to his 1971 film “Duel”), and Quentin Tarantino paid his homage to it in “Death Proof” (2007). A remake was done for TV in 1997, and “Donnie Darko” director Richard Kelly seems currently to plan another remake for the big screen.
The film was shot by director Richard C. Serafian on a low budget of 1,6 Million US $, but gained over the years more than 12 Million US $ at the box office. Despite its many locations, the film was shot in just 38 days (instead of 60 planned days due to a sudden budget shortage through the studio) with – for its days – light-weight ARRI II cameras and a small crew of 19 (excluding actors). I will leave the end of this film up to your interpretation (before you will hear mine of course). But it might be helpful for you to consider what Barry Newman has pointed in an interview: “… no matter how far they push or chase you, no one can truly take away your freedom…”
Our next breakout session was focused on films that fall under the category of Blaxploitation Cinema. Afterwards I tried to reveal some connections between the organization of the American mainstream film business and how women, racial minorities and transgender people have been/are being portrayed in U.S. cinema. Although eventually Blaxploitation films were strongly opposed by African-Americans because of the rather frequent negative stereotyping of their protagonists as gangsters (and therefore possibly tarnishing the image of African-Americans in society in general), they helped African-American talent (actors, directors, composers etc.) to emerge and become an established part of the U.S. film industry!
After our session on B-Movies (with special focus on the genres of Monster and Martial Arts), we had further excursions into the diverse facets of Paracinema, especially Fringe Films (C- and Z-Movies): Early Exploitation Films outside the Hays Code like Reefer Madness (1936), and Sexploitation Cinema. Clips were shown from “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965) by Russ Meyer, the “educational” movie “Teenage Mother” (1967) and the sexploitative B-Movie “Angel” (1984). In the next two lectures we will add Midnight Movies (artsy and/or crazy independent films that became Cult Movies) and Blaxploitation to our knowledge base!