Film Sanity in a Mad World-Spring 2017 Semester Film Course

Benito Rakower, Ph.D.

Benito Rakower, Ph.D.


One of the biggest problems in contemporary film-making is maintaining its two most important ingredients.  Films, generally, have a happy or hopeful ending.  They must also portray characters with whom we can identify or sympathize.

The world we live in today has made this very difficult for several reasons.  Universal social disarray has created chaos and uncertainty on a scale no longer accessible to reasoned discourse or resolution.  Though films are, by their nature, driven by emotion, their structure has to be reasonable and logical.  Films are made by canny and intelligent people.  Any attempt to dismiss them as simply popular, mass entertainment is wrong.  Films are coherent attempts to deal with an irrational world.

My spring semester film course is about people in today’s world who somehow manage to endure immense physical, psychological, and moral challenges.  They emerge stronger, happier, and triumphant.

In one film, a group of energetic, ambitious, and jaunty American men find themselves participating gleefully [at first] in a financial crisis that could have ruined America.  Depicting this in a grimly dramatic manner would not have worked.  A comic approach is the only way that succeeds because the actual and historic situation in 2008 was insane to begin with.  It is through the initial jokiness of the main characters that a sense of encroaching disaster gradually emerges in the viewer’s mind. It is the same problem that faced the people who made Titanic.  The tremendous force of the film resulted from its beginning in smug glamour and luxury.

In another film, a highly attractive woman, married and with two grown children, is having lunch at a stylish restaurant with her mother-in-law.  One course is so sensuously delicious that she falls in love with the young chef who prepared it.  The theme of a married woman falling in love with another man dominates 19th century European literature.  Depicting the situation in a contemporary film required a radical change in the concept of morality.

What makes a film aesthetically satisfying is that the unexpected is shown to have been inevitable.


The 21st Century – A New Vision in Film-Making
Fridays, March 24 – May 5, 2017 (No class on March 31) (Full 6 weeks); 2:15-4:45 p.m.; Post-film discussion – 4:45-5:15 p.m.
March 24 – April 21, 2017 (First 4 weeks)



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One comment on “Film Sanity in a Mad World-Spring 2017 Semester Film Course
  1. Donna NELSON says:

    Just a comment, my husband and I are at the Motorcoach resort Port St. Lucie …our first full season having invested in the resort last yr. I have been looking for just such a course as your film course. There is a definite lack of lifelong learning opportunities in this area and so I have discovered that Jupiter or Vero Beach are the closest during our 3 to 4 mo. stay which means a 40 min.+drive which I’m not opposed to but sure would like to see more interesting classes offered during Jan to April. Thank you for your ear!
    Donna Nelson