Film Theory: Film Movements–Theory and Practice (Bordwell and Thompson, Tudor)

Research in Progress (Feb 7, 2021)

Bordwell and Thompson

Film movements consist of films that are produced within a particular period and/or nation and share significant traits of style and form.

Filmmakers who operate within a common production structure and share certain assumptions about filmmaking, such as formal and stylistic systems.

Film movement consists not only of films but also the activities of specific filmmakers

Beyond noting stylistic and formal qualities.

For each period and nation, there’s a portrait of relevant factors that impinge on the cinema.

These factors help explain:

*How a particular movement began?

*What shaped its development?

*What affected its decline?


  1. State of the film industry
  2. Artistic theories held by filmmakers.
  3. Notion of reality and realism
  4. Pertinent technology features.
  5. Elements of the socioeconomic context of the period.


Film Movements

Early Cinema, 1893-1903

Silent Hollywood Cinema, 1908-1927

German Expressionism, 1919-1924

French Impressionism and Surrealism, 1918-1930

Soviet Montage, 1924-1930

Classic Hollywood Cinema, 1927-1959

French populist cinema of the 1930s.

Japanese Cinema, 1930s

Italian Neorealism, 1942-1951

French New Wave, 1959-1964

New German Cinema, 1966-1982


Aesthetic Film Movements

Film movements as artistic and socio-historical phenomena; the politics of film movements; comparison of five major film movements; the Russian Expressive Realism of the 1920’s the German Expressionism of the 1920s, the Italian Neo-Realism of the 1940’s, the French New Wave of the 1950s; and the Brazilian Cinema Novo of the 1960s.


Cinema and Society: Film Movements, Tudor

The relation between cinema and society:

The consequences of movies for society

The consequences of society for the movies.

The reduction of a phenomenon to its social structural base.

The intellectual roots for studying the social structural determinants of film are in the European tradition of the sociology of knowledge and art (a tradition largely deriving from Marxist theory).

Any account of a film movement begins and ends with specific historical events. But there may be processes common to a range of comparable cases, recognizable patterns of determination.

The very act of labeling confirms their distinctive status: German expressionism, Italian neo-realism; the Soviet case has no one name (Soviet Montage)

Each of the waves began after a major war.

German expressionism after WWI

Soviet dynamic realism after the 1917 Revolution and Civil War.

Italian neo-realism after WWII.


The interval between the War and the beginning of the Wave

Germany: Dr. Caligari, 1918

Russia: Strike, 1925

Italy: Obsessions, 1942