Tue, Apr 27 at 7 p.m. | 8 weeks
Courses: Participants will be able to engage on their own time with the pre-recorded lectures and curated materials (readings, podcast links, interviews, and film). These will be used as the fuel for the live Zoom discussions with the professor.
Music and the moving image have been entwined for over a century, and the relationship between these two mediums has changed and been tested over time, shaped by not only the individual artists in each respective field, but also the crucial collaborations between these dynamic mediums. We are going to learn just how integral the connection between sound and image are as we experience some of the best examples from film history.
In this Olio course, we’re going to dissect both cinematographic artists who work with consistent collaborators, and those who do not. Our studies will focus on recent cinema of the last 35 years, surveying the work of Wes Anderson, David Lynch, Stanley Kukrick, and Sofia Coppola. Each of these aforementioned artists has a radically different relationship to music, but all four artists are hyper-aware of the gestalt of their creative works, and consider music in relation to their films with great sensitivity.
This OlioCourse will take place on Tuesday evenings from 4/20 until 6/8. We will alternate each week between a recorded lecture from Whitney George and then meet the following week via zoom for a live session where we dissect, question and build upon the previous lecture and the films we've watched on our own time (with a live chat for our group).
You will have an entire week to digest the recorded content and come up with your thoughts and questions for the live session. The questions of the participants will structure the meetings, instead of being reduced to the common 10-15min Q&As at the end of a lecture.
What to expect from the course:
Upon signing up, you will be sent a resouce list of all the suggested films, soundtracks and readings for this Cinema series.
Four lectures recorded by professor George emailed to you every other Tuesday.
Four live Olios led by the professor to explore questions, discuss challenges to the theories presented to you, and dig deeper.
Participants will be able to engage on their own time with the pre-recorded lectures and curated materials (readings, podcast links, interviews, and film). These will be used as the fuel for the live Zoom discussions with the professor.
Participants are encouraged to come up with thoughts and questions to bring forth in the live sessions. Think of this as your chance for extended q&a with the professor.
Week I & II | Wes Anderson and the Search for the Technicolor Dreamcoat
“I don't think any of us are normal people.”
― Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson films are noted for their aesthetically pleasing color pallets and peculiar, fantastical story-lines that playfully blur the distinction between reality and fantasy. But his films also carefully curate these same ideas within the musical underscoring of each film in his catalog, exhibiting a penchant for the curious, the quirky, the charming, the aloof, and the misunderstood. One of the most iconic elements of his oeuvre, from The Grand Budapest Hotel to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou includes an underscoring technique that is as dynamic and rich as the colors he paints with visually.
In this Olio we're going to pay close attention to the role of timbre in Wes Anderson scores, or instrumental tone color, which is akin to painting with hues if discussing the visual arts. We'll investigate his two aforementioned classics, but also discuss The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, which are earlier works in his oeuvre in an effort to also look into the larger themes that concern the artist at large. Importantly we will also spend some time dissecting Anderson’s more recent work, like Moonrise Kingdom, to survey how his aesthetic goals as a filmmaker have developed since his early works.
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- The Grand Budapest
- Moonrise Kingdom
Week III & IV | David Lynch and the Signature Touch
Through the darkness of future’s past
The magician longs to see.
One chants out between two worlds…
“Fire… walk with me.”
Cinema is a visual art. As such, many filmmakers are instantly recognizable for their cinematography, but the signature touch of a David Lynch film is a dreadfully wonderful combination of aesthetic, sound, and, perhaps most importantly, how that sound influences our perception of the visuals and narrative; the sum of which far exceeds light simply reflecting from a silver screen.
David Lynch, however, goes beyond. Widely credited for his influence as a filmmaker, Lynch’s eccentric talent is not limited to visual arts. A composer and true collaborator himself, Lynch was often unapologetically hands-on in the involvement of the soundtrack and acoustic design of his films; working closely with other composers and musicians such as Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise.
In this Olio, we’ll watch selections of Lynch’s most iconic projects: Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks* and Mulholland Drive and explore the process under which the music was created, how it serves the narrative and visuals, and what parallels these moments expose - in what I call the “Lynch Vocabulary.” A unique language created and refined over his continuing body of works.
- Twin Peaks* (the original series)
- Mulholland Drive
- Blue Velvet
Week V & VI | Stanley Kubrick and the Time Capsule
A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction.
It should be a progression of moods and feelings.
The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
― Stanley Kubrick
Unlike Wes Adnreson and David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick was less inclined to work with others, and more driven to create the Gesamtkunstwerk on his own. While many Directors lack a background in advanced musical knowledge, some are compelled to influence the sound design to complete their vision. Kubrick - one such filmmaker - often worked with collage elements of pre recorded material in order to control this specific dimension of his films (e.g.: The Shining), as he was not a composer himself.
A lot of the signature style of a Kubrick film comes from the editing process, in which music and sound design generally plays a crucial role. In fact, pacing is one of Kubrick’s most peculiar cinematographic elements, and in this Olio, we’ll pay close attention to how music influences the perception of time in two of his most well-known works: The Shinning and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- The Shinning
- Full Metal Jacket
- 2001, A Space Odyssey
Week VII & VIII | Sofia Coppola and the Reimagining of the Renaissance Style
It seems that the greatest difficulty is to find the end.
Don't try to find it, it's there already.
— Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola is a multi-faceted artist who came into filmmaking after years of pursuing acting, modeling, and design work. As a Renaissance artist, her numerous outlets of experience are clearly visible in her filmography, from her first commercial success with The Virgin Suicides to her most recent work with On the Rocks.
While her namesake has afforded her considerable opportunity and flexibility to create more “artistic” works in the genre of cinema, Coppola has had considerable amount of resistance in the field due to her gender. In spite of this, many of the topics of her work involve clearly feminine subjects. While her critics have cited her films as simply “decorative”, her works are truly effused with a “woman’s touch” which she herself is happy to boast about. She remarks creating the films she would have watched in her youth.
Where does this femininity appear, and how does music and her sense of sound design in relation to the moving image provide us something that is clearly from the viewpoint of a woman? Where is the language of gender within a film? In this Olio we’ll focus on three of her earlier works, dissecting where the feminine perspective lies, and touch on her more recent works to survey how her perspective has changed over time.
- The Virgin Suicides
- Marie Antionette
- Lost in Translation
*A note on the OlioCourse format*
The live discussions will take a spontaneous shape - i.e the professor will not adhere to a preconceived strict plan, rather, she will allow space for the participants to direct what they would like to learn about. In other words, with the provided materials, and the clarifying guidance of the professor, each participant will make the best of online live meetings, now conceived as participative platforms to strengthen and deepen understanding while remaining conversation based. The questions of the participants will structure the meetings, instead of being reduced to the common 10-15min Q&As at the end of a lecture. The meetings will basically shape itself as the questions go, requiring improvisation, critical thinking and flexibility all based on the participant inquiries!
George holds an undergraduate degree from the California Institute of the Arts, a masters degree from Brooklyn College Conservatory, and is currently continuing her studies as a PhD candidate at the CUNY Grad Center. In addition to her composing and conducting, George teaches at Brooklyn College, works at the Hitchcock Institute of American Studies and is the Managing Director for New York's AME.
Zoom link will be sent upon signup.