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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Dance,Film & Theatre Short Name: MFC2024
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: HUGHES HA Dr (Dnc Flm Thtr)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability
Semester 2.
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment (SITS MAB)


Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)






Participation in class and on Ulearn




Long essay




Module Overview

Since the 1950s a consistently reoccurring theme in world cinema has concerned the impact of modern industrial society on the environment. In the first decade of the 21st century this theme has become increasingly insistent. Drawing on a growing literature on film and the environment, this module explores the role of cinema in the creation – or exploitation – of contemporary public interest in environmental issues. It looks at the iconography of environmental campaigning and its presence in various cinematic forms. The scientific community, the activist community, conceptual artists, the filmmaking community, consumers, governments, and corporations all have an interest in developing communicative forms that influence the public sphere. In the attempts to create a global community in response to environmental threats, regional and national interests can also be seen to be emerging within the film texts. The module thus also explores the ways in which the conflicting interests of the various national, regional and international communities are reconciled or concealed.

Module Aims

This module aims to develop skills in advanced film criticism and analysis through the exploration of environmental themes in contemporary cinema. The module will refer to film examples from several national and regional film cultures tracing similarities and differences in the manifestations of environmentalism in images, spoken and written language, and sound design. The module will also refer to examples of different film types – feature film, documentary, and animation – and explore the relationships between theme and film form, genre and ‘mode’.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this modules students will have



  • Knowledge and understanding of terms relating to environmental debates and an ability to use them critically in debate and in writing in relation to communications policy and film analysis



  • The ability to analyse how environmental debates are reflected in different film forms – feature film, documentary and animation



  • The ability to apply concepts of genre and mode in written analyses of contemporary cinema



Module Content

The seminars will be structured around the following topics



  1. The long history of environmental thought


  2. The role of still and moving images in environmental campaigning


  3. Ecological ideas and feature film genres (the horror film, the disaster movie, the road movie)


  4. Utopia, dystopia and animation


  5. Environmental campaigning and documentary film


  6. CGI, the virtual and contemporary images of lost and new worlds


  7. The Copernican revolution and the ‘post-human’



Films discussed will include but not be restricted to:



Pare Lorenz, The Plow that Broke the Plains ( , 1936)


Oliver Postgate, Things (1969 – episode of The Clangers)


Godfrey Reggio, Koyaansqatsi ( , 1982)


Hayao Miyazaki, Princess Mononoke ( , 1997)


Hubert Sauper, Darwin’s Nightmare (France, , , 2004)


Roland Emmerich, The Day After Tomorrow ( , 2004)


Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes ( , 2006)


Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen, The 11th Hour ( , 2007)


Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid ( , 2009)


James Cameron, Avatar ( , 2009)


Methods of Teaching/Learning

The teaching will be structured around 2 hour seminars in which students will give presentations and participate in the discussion and analysis of film clips. There will also be a guided discussion of readings on Ulearn. Eight screenings will be held which students will be expected to attend as part of the module.


Selected Texts/Journals

Altman, R. (1999). Film/Genre. London : British Film Institute.


Bouse, D. (2000). Wildlife Films. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Brereton, P. (2005). Hollywood Utopia: Ecology in American Cinema. Portland, Oregon, Bristol : Intellect.


Cox, R. (2006). Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. London : Sage.


Cubitt, S. (2005). EcoMedia. Amsterdam, New York : Rodopi.


DeLuca, K. M. (1999). Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism. New York: Guilford .


Dunaway, F. (2005). Natural visions: the power of images in American environmental reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Environmental History. (2007). Special Forum: Films every environmental historian should see. Environmental History , 12, 280-393.


Fowler, C., & Helfield, G. (2008). Representing the Rural: Space, Place and Identity in Films about the Land. Detroit MI: Wayne State UP.


Hochman, J. (1998). Green Cultural Studies: Nature in Film, Novel, and Theory. Moscow: University of Idaho Press.


Ingram, D. (2000). Green Screen: Environmentalism and Hollywood Cinema. Exeter: Exeter University Press.


Ivakhiv, A. (2008, February 15). Green Film Criticism and its Futures. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment .


Kellner, D. (2009). Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era. WileyBlackwell.


Lefebvre, M. (Ed.). (2006). Landscape and Film. New York, London : Routledge.


Lu, S., & Mi, J. (Eds.). (2009). Chinese Ecocinema: In the Age of Environmental Challenge. Hongkong: Hongkong University Press.


MacDonald, S. (2001). The garden in the machine: a field guide to independent films about place. Berkeley, California; London: University of California Press.


Mitman, G. (1999). Reel nature: 's romance with wildlife on film. Cambridge, Mass., London: Harvard University Press.


Nichols, B. (2001). Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Poole , R. (2008). Earthrise: How man first saw the earth. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.


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