Film & Media: Cities on Screen

Ref: C2223588

Discover how Paris, Berlin, London and Tokyo have been represented by native and non-native film-makers. As well as showing the cities at their best and worst, their history and development is also explored via a wide range of fascinating film clips.

Course aim

This course will show how four well-known cities - Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo - have been depicted in feature and documentary films, exploring their history and development..

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for anyone who enjoys a bit of armchair travelling!

What topics will this course cover

Each city will be explored in depth over two sessions with clips from films by both native and non-native film-makers to show the history and development of the cities. Feature films and documentary films will be used to bring the four cities to life. Paris - The romance and beauty of Paris has attracted film-makers since film began. In these sessions we will meet lovers, artists, criminals, and the marginalised and eccentric characters who populate this city. Clips will include Paris, Je t’aime, Les Amants du Pont Neuf, Amelie, La Haine, The Lavendar Hill Mob and Midnight in Paris. London - A chance to explore London on screen from the early days of film to the present day. Meet cockney sparrows, criminals, lovers, toffs and toughs. Clips will include Underground, Once A Jolly Swagman (very early Dirk Bogarde!), The Small World of Sammy Lee, Notting Hill, Sapphire and other rarities and delights! Berlin - A cinematic exploration of both the vamps and villains of inter-war Berlin and compelling images of post-war Berlin from Rossellini’s controversial “rubble” film Germany, Year Zero to Cold War paranoia in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and The Lives of Others. There’ll be a chance to wallow in “ostalgia” in Good Bye Lenin and Sonnenallee and to marvel at the modernist architecture which pervades the sci-fi action of Aeon Flux. Tokyo - The films of Kurosawa and Ozu show very different aspects of Tokyo, focusing on crime and the underworld and the domesticity of family life respectively, while Babel and Lost in Translation explore the city from a Western viewpoint. In these sessions the changing face of Tokyo will be examined in an accessible and engaging way.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

Discuss how film-makers weave history and real-life characters and events into their fictional worlds. Describe the history and development of Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and London. Assess how both feature films and documentaries provide important records of the past. Use the language of film.

How will I know I'm making progress?

There will be discussion in the sessions which will enable students to guage their progress and to improve by freely asking questions. Students will be encouraged to watch the films in full if available (I will only be able to show selected clips). The language of film will be tested via an end of course activity.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

Nothing at all, all will be provided.

Reading and information sources

None is required.

What could the course lead to?

Maybe a film appreciation group could be set up, more cinema visits could result from the course and perhaps film studies units could be studied in Higher Education institutions.

Download full course outline

Film & Media: Cities on Screen Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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