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Courses / Modules / FILM3040 Cinema and the Environment

Cinema and the Environment

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 6
Module lead
Malcolm Cook
Academic year

Module overview

There is now an overwhelming scientific and political consensus that climate change is occurring as a result of human activity and that there is an urgent need for action to address the causes and effects of this. This module will consider the place of film and television in this global crisis and ask what we, as film students and scholars, can contribute to ongoing debates and initiatives.

Cinema is inextricably linked with the exploitation of fossil fuels, the modernity they supported, and the resulting environmental impact. While fossil fuels had been consumed for hundreds of years before the arrival of moving image technology, the twentieth century saw an exponential growth in energy consumption, and especially the turn towards petroleum usage. Like any industry, cinema consumes resources in its production and consumption. Yet cinema has also shaped our understanding and use of natural resources. Nature films construct our idea of what the environment is. Advertising promotes consumption. Fictions films can likewise glamourise products, lifestyles and behaviours, or depict the catastrophic effects of climate change. Cinema is used as a tool within many industries for scientific and educational purposes, but has also been adopted by activists and politicians to enact change.

This module will provide an opportunity to examine these myriad relationships and impacts between cinema and the environment. It will look at familiar narrative feature films from this new perspective and introduce new examples and types of filmmaking practice and their aesthetic models. It will encourage students to explore interdisciplinary understandings of cinema and its role in the world.

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