French Film Classics

Film still: Onstage in a theater, a live tableau including a mime, a harlequin playing guitar, and Aphrodite in a public garden.

One of the greatest French films of all time, Les enfants du paradis was filmed during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Director Marcel Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert created an homage to French theatrical tradition, commenting on the nature of love, relationships, freedom and responsibility, with interwoven symbolic narratives of occupation and resistance. (Screen shot courtesy of Francois R. Caron on Flickr. License: CC BY-NC.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2015



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course covers the history and aesthetics of French cinema from the advent of sound to present-day. It treats films in the context of technical processes, the art of narration, directorial style, role of the scriptwriter, the development of schools and movements, the impact of political events and ideologies, and the relation between French and other national cinemas.

Taught in English, the films are screened with English subtitles. Students may complete written assignments in French.

Related Content

Catherine Clark. 21G.052 French Film Classics. Spring 2015. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.