Introduction to Film History

Academic year: 2023-24 

Course: Introduction to Film History 

Credits: 3

Period: First semester 

Number of hours: 24 

Teacher(s): Giulia Simi (

Language of instruction: English 

Course Description

The course will provide an overview of the film history and film language. It will be particularly focused on the origins and the early years of cinema; the silent era and the star system; the introduction of sound and the Hollywood genre system; the cinema in Italy under the Fascist regime and Neorealism; Postwar cinema in the United States and in Europe (New Waves); contemporary perspectives and new trends of cinema.

Course Goals

This course is aimed at providing a starting knowledge of film history from the origins of the medium up to the present. It will be structured chronologically and will focus on key moments in cinema’s development that are particularly significant from a historical, cultural, political and aesthetic perspective. Through a few selected case studies, students will learn to identify and critically examine movies. They will also become familiar with the main film genres and the cinema language: from kinds of shots to editing, from acting to sound.


The course is designed with a participatory approach. In every class we will focus on a key period or theme. Under the guide of the teacher, students will analyse a movie in relation to poetic, aesthetic, cultural and language aspects.

Required Text(s)

Teacher will provide slides and texts to study. The reading of Geoffrey Nowell-Smith,The History of the cinema: a very short introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017)is highly recommended. 

Grade components

Attendance and participation (30%)

Final exam (70%).

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