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“4 the Love of Film” Spring Lecture Series
Film scholar Michael Cramer lectures on Peter Watkins’ BBC documentaries

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Council of the Humanities, and Film Studies Committee is presenting a spring film lecture series. As the second of four lectures, film scholar Michael Cramer will present “Inform, Educate, and Aestheticize: Documentary and Art in Peter Watkins’ BBC Films” on Thursday, March 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. The lecture is free and open to the public. 

michael cramerMichael Cramer is Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at SUNY-Purchase College. He received his B.A. in English and comparative literature from Columbia University in 2004 and his Ph.D. in comparative literature and film studies from Yale University in 2011. Cramer’s research interests include European and American cinema and film theory, aesthetics, and the history and theory of twentieth-century leftist art, literature, and cinema. His article “Roberto Rossellini’s History Lessons” appeared in New Left Review (Nov./Dec. 2012), and he is currently at work on a book project dealing with the efforts of Rossellini and other European filmmakers to develop television-based projects in the 1960-70s. 

The focus of Cramer’s talk will be on two films directed and produced by Peter Watkins for BBC Television—1964’s Culloden and 1965’s The War Game, which were widely seen upon their release as marking a critical shift in documentary filmmaking.  Watkins’ BBC films used the techniques developed in television documentary throughout the course of the 1950s to depict overtly “unreal” content. Watkins’s perfect imitation of established documentary forms seemed to unmask them as unreliable, if not downright fraudulent according to some critics. While Watkins’ films do indeed constitute a “questioning” of the documentary tradition, Cramer’s presentation will argue that their more significant, albeit less apparent intervention, lies in the way that they reintroduce a conception of the “aesthetic”—as a specific mode of experience and of understanding—into the documentary for the radically different media landscape of the 1960s, one irrevocably transformed by the new cultural centrality of television.


Link to photo:
Photo caption:  Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at SUNY-Purchase College Michael Cramer who will lecture on Peter Watkins’ BBC documentaries at Princeton on March 27
Photo credit: Photo courtesy Michael Cramer

Related Information

Film Studies Committee at Princeton 



Event Information

Thursday, March 27, 2014

4:30 p.m.

James M. Stewart ’32 Theater

Lewis Center for the Arts at 185 Nassau Street

Free and open to the public

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