Film Auteurs and Existentialism in EYE Film Museum

12 July 2016

Students taking Film Auteurs or Existentialism, both 300-level Humanities courses, regularly visit exhibitions hosted by Amsterdam's EYE Film Museum in order to develop their own tours that reconsider, deconstruct and relate the contents to wider themes or other topics covered in the courses.

Analysing film, themes and concept of 'auteur' at EYE

Using the concept of the auteur and the debates surrounding it as a starting point, students learn key concepts central to the study of film, about the theoretical viewpoints leading to what constitutes authorship and why some filmmakers have attained canonical status, while others have not. 

Important to discussing these more theoretical concepts is being able to apply and critique actual examples. Just a short distance, the course integrates current exhibitions taking place at Amsterdam's EYE Filmmuseum, which frequently focus on directors through retrospectives, trends in cinematic history or experimental/niché movemements or genres. 

Activities include having students design their own tours of the exhibition, questioning certian assertions or assumptions underlying exhibitions or exploring how  exhibitions themselves reflect certain views on cinematic authorship. 

Existentialism in LIterature and Philosophy also makes strategic use of EYE Film exhibitions by, depending on the director/theme, looking at ideas of how the seemingly unrepresentable 'sublime' can (or cannot) be overcome by looking at not only authors, but also filmmakers such as David Lynch. 

Recent examples: Antonioni, Fellini, van der Keuken and Cronenberg

In Fall 2015, the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam hosted an exhibition on the Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni. In both the "Film Auteurs" and the "Existentialism" courses at AUC, groups of 4 students organised a tour through the exhibition for the other students in their respective course. For the "Film Auteurs" students, this was a tour discerning the aspects that define Antonioni's authorship and how the exhibition itself reflects certain views on cinematic authorship. The "Existentialism" students, in turn, used the exhibition to explore the many connections between Antonioni's work and existentialist philosophy (including motifs such as alienation and anxiety), and a comparison with the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre.

In past years, similar experiential learning activities were organised in relation to exhibitions at EYE on Federico Fellini, Dutch documentary filmmaker Johan van der Keuken, and the horror cinema of David Cronenberg.

Published by  Amsterdam University College