For more than a century, cars and cinema have occupied a romantic place in the American imagination, as vehicles that can take us someplace new, or engines for our fantasies of mobility, freedom and personal expression. Perhaps this is one reason why the road movie is one of the most enduring subgenres of twentieth-century film. In this class, we’ll watch ten classic American travel films, one for each decade starting from Buster Keaton’s silent “Go West” (1925) and arriving at Christopher Nolan’s space epic “Interstellar” (2014). We thus begin on a train and end on a spaceship. In between we’ll travel by car, bus, motorcycle and even on foot across America and beyond, in search of answers to the motivating questions for this course: what is the attraction of the open road, and how is the romance of its call embraced and challenged by the multiple genres of these films, the concerns of the decades in which they were produced, and the limits they impose on the idea of unrestricted travel, individual growth and independence.
3-5 units. Less units for students who want to have a lighter load.