(FILM003) Musicals, Music and Meaning in 20th Century Film

The people dancing in silhouette


Course start date: Monday 15th January 2024
Course end date: Friday 22nd March 2024
Early Bird Price: £135

Tutor(s): Lynne Thompson
Course Code: FILM003
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisites: None
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Films List**
**Please note: You will need to acquire your own copies of the films as they will not be provided as part of the course material. All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any films or texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Lynne Thompson when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.


This course offers different approaches to film and song, and although it focuses primarily on American musicals, European and Asian versions are included. It places the films in historical, social and cultural context, exploring why they were made and when. The course covers most of the twentieth century, from the Golden Age of musicals to the 1990s, but is also arranged thematically as shown below.

Syllabus Plan

Week 01: The Show within a show – Gold Diggers of 1933
Week 02: Blackness and musical films – Carmen Jones, Porgy and Bess
Week 03: No place like home – The Wizard of Oz
Week 04: America and otherness – South Pacific
Week 05: Migration, ethnicity and the city – West Side Story
Week 06: The European dimension (French) –Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
Week 07: The European dimension (British) – Oliver, Oh! What a Lovely War
Week 08: Bollywood and cultural borrowings – Monsoon Wedding
Week 09: Kids – Saturday Night Fever, The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Week 10: Where next? – Moulin Rouge