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Interdisciplinary Learning Courses

Universal history through cinema

Universal history through cinema Universal history through cinema
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Interdisciplinary Learning CoursesUniversal history through cinema

Cinema provides a spectacular and immersive approach to the events of the past, but at the same time shows us that History is also a narrative created from the present.

Since its inception, cinema has been an effective means of reconstructing the past. Its power to convey to the viewer an intense audiovisual experience of historical events completely surpassed that of other approaches. For this reason, a journey through universal history -from the beginnings of humanity to the future- can be carried out through cinema.

In this course, we will propose the analysis of a set of films that reveal how history has been reconstructed through various cinematographic approaches. A selection that will range from Hollywood blockbusters to animation, ranging from drama to humor. With this, we will also be aware of how history is a narrative that can be presented from different interests and aesthetic and ideological perspectives.

Learning Objectives

  • Know the main milestones of universal history through cinema.
  • Understand the relationships between cinema and history.
  • Identify the modes of historical reconstruction developed by cinema.
  • Recognize and value the different codes and forms of the cinematographic medium.
  • Develop a critical and active view as spectators.

Contents of the Subject

Universal history through cinema

  • 1. Introduction.
  • 2. Cinema and prehistory.
  • 3. Ancient Egypt in the cinema.
  • 4. Rome in cinema.
  • 5. Middle Ages in cinema (I).
  • 6. Middle Ages in cinema (II).
  • 7. The conquest of America in cinema.
  • 8. The era of revolutions in cinema.
  • 9. Slavery in cinema.
  • 10. The Russian Revolution in cinema.
  • 11. The Second World War in cinema.
  • 12. Cinema and Nazism.
  • 13. The Vietnam War in cinema.
  • 14. Contemporary conflicts in cinema.
  • 5. Closing lecture.


David Cortés Santamarta Professor of Universal history through cinema

David Cortés Santamarta

David Cortés has a Bachelor's degree in Geography and History and a PhD in Art History from the Complutense University of Madrid. In his research career, the central focus has been the study of the links and intersections of different disciplines and artistic practices throughout the contemporary age. His publications include his monograph La obra de Víctor Mira (IFC, 2020), his work as editor of the books George Benjamin (OCNE, 2005) and Sofia Gubaidulina (OCNE, 2009), of the Samuel Beckett catalogs (Reina Sofía Museum, 2006) and Con y contra el cine (UNIA-SECC-Fundació Tàpies, 2008). La obra de Víctor Mira (IFC, 2020), George Benjamin (OCNE, 2005) and Sofia Gubaidulina (OCNE, 2009), (Museo Reina Sofía, 2006) and Con y contra el cine (UNIA-SECC-Fundació Tàpies, 2008). He has also been the curator of various film cycles at the National Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid.