PHILOSOPHICAL FILMS                                                                                     


Instructor: Dr. Jorn K. Bramann                                                              
Frostburg State University
Frostburg, Maryland 21532

Course description: Viewing and discussion of artistically outstanding films in conjunction with the analysis of significant philosophical texts. ("The more you know, the more you see ...")

Objectives: To enable students to see films not only as forms of entertainment, but also as important philosophical statements. And to clarify significant philosophical texts by juxtaposing them with the contents and forms of important motion pictures.

Select films and their corresponding texts:

"The General" (Buster Keaton)--Wittgenstein: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

"Modern Times" (Charles Chaplin)--Marx: Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

"Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles)--Socrates: Apology; Plato: Apology

"Apocalypse Now" (Francis Coppola)--Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy

"Nine1/2 Weeks"(Adrian Lyne)--De Beauvoir: The Second Sex

"The Cider House Rules" (Lasse Hallström)--Kant: "What Is Enlightenment?"

"Duck Soup" (Marx Brothers)--Wittgenstein: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

"Barton Fink" (Joel Coen)--Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy

"She's Gotta Have It" (Spike Lee)--Kant: "What is Enlightenment?"

"The Eclipse" (Michelangelo Antonioni)--Heidegger: "What Is Metaphysics?"

"Nazarin" (Luis Bunuel)--Wittgenstein (Metaphor and Metaphysics)

"Play It Again, Sam" (Woody Allen)--Emerson: Self-Reliance

"Husbands and Wives" (Woody Allen)--Sartre: The Emotions

"Dead Poets Society" (Peter Weir)--Emerson: "Self-Reliance"

"Educating Rita" (Lewis Gilbert)--J.S. Mill: Utilitarianism

"Network" (Sidney Lumet)--Plato: The Republic

"Last Year at Marienbad" (Alain Resnais)--Descartes: Meditations

"Koyaanisqatsi" (Godfrey Reggio)--Fichte: The Vocation of the Scholar

"What Dreams May Come"--Wittgenstein: "Lecture on Ethics"

"Hester Street" (Joan M. Silver)--De Tocqueville: Democracy in America

"Ghost Dog" (Jim Jarmusch)--Sartre: "Existentialism"

"A Heart in Winter" (Claude Sautet)--Plato: Symposium

By clicking on the linked film titles you will find relevant philosophical texts, notes, or references.

The following sites provide excellent information about films in general:
Internet Movie Database

Of special interest for this course: Film & Philosophy

Scripts of a great number of films can be found at INFlow's Screenplay Repository and Drew's Script-O-Rama.

Movie Review Query Engine
is an outstanding instrument for locating substantial reviews of films.

Study Questions: Texts: These questions should help the reader to focus on the main points of the texts.
Study Questions: Films: These questions should pinpoint those aspects of the films that are philosophically most relevan

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