Centre for Continuing Education

A History of World Cinema Course with David Stratton

Film. Focus on cinema.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

David Stratton’s History of World Cinema course explores in great detail the development and trends of world cinema in chronological order. This unique eleven-year series on the history of world cinema, is a rare opportunity to participate in this very personal but immensely informative survey of international cinema from its origins.

Two courses from this eleven-year series will be scheduled every year, each covering a segment of cinematic history across twelve highly informative three hour sessions. Extensive film excerpts will be screened and, at many sessions, a feature will screen in full. In addition, documentation provided will contextualise the films by highlighting the most important social and political events occurring during the period covered.

David Stratton
David Stratton was the director of the Sydney Film Festival from 1966-1983. He contributes film reviews to The Australian, and is the author of two books on Australian cinema: The Last New Wave and The Avocado Plantation. From 1981-2004 he presented films on SBS Television and was, with Margaret Pomeranz, co-host of The Movie Show from 1986-2004. In July 2004, Margaret and David moved to ABC television with their show, At The Movies, which aired until 2014.

Course timetable

The following provides indicative information about the content of each course and the period covered. This information may be subject to change.


Feb 2013 (Completed)
This film course covers the period 1944-1945. As World War II finally comes to an end, the cinema enters its most popular period with record admissions all over the world. From Hollywood, these years are notable for being the real start of the series of thrillers known today as film noir, along with the beginning of a great era in movie musicals. British and French cinemas are also entering one of their greatest periods.


Sep 2013 (Completed)
This unique cinema history continues with a close look at the post-war period as reflected by cinema around the world. This class covers the period 1946-1947. Especially notable during these two years are the origins of the Blacklist, as McCarthyism took hold in America, and the numerous fine examples of film noir emanating from Hollywood. In addition, this was the start of the richest period for British cinema and there was a new mood among filmmakers across much of Europe, especially Italy, with the arrival of neo-realism. A feature will screen at each session as well as numerous clips.


Feb 2014 (Completed)
This class covers the period 1948-1949.


Sep 2014 (Completed)
This class covers the period 1950-1951.


Feb 2015 (Completed)
The years under review saw the transformation of screen sizes from the old ‘square’ ratio to a variety of wide screen systems, notably CinemaScope. This was also the height of the Cold War when many blacklisted American filmmakers relocated to Europe to find work there. We will look at all the major films of the period, with a feature in full screened at each session, plus many excerpts. Questions and comments are welcome at the conclusion of the screening.


Sep 2015 (Completed)
The History of World Cinema course continues with the years 1954 and 1955 in the spotlight. We look at the famous, and not-so-famous, films from most of the world’s major film producing countries. A feature film will screen at each session and there will be numerous film excerpts and other information to help explore the trends, directions and themes of cinema throughout the world, though the emphasis is on the films of the US.


Feb 2016 (Completed)
The History of World Cinema course continues with the years 1956 and 1957 in the spotlight. We look at the famous, and not-so-famous, films from most of the world’s major film producing countries. A feature film will screen at each session and there will be numerous film excerpts and other information to help explore the trends, directions and themes of cinema throughout the world.


Sep 2016 (Completed)
The History of World Cinema course continues with the years 1958 and 1959 in the spotlight. This section of the course covers two crucial years in which new directions in European cinema – France, Italy and the U.K. - led to a massive injection of new talent, both before and behind the camera. American cinema also thrived during this period, even though the Hollywood studios were starting to decline. Classic films and rare movies will be explored. A feature film will screen at each session, as well as numerous excerpts, and documentation provided will contextualise the films with reminders of the political, social and cultural events occurring worldwide during this period.


Feb 2017 (Completed)
David Stratton’s unique course enters its 9th year. This segment will focus entirely on films made all over the world in the crucial years 1960-1961, when – following on from the revolution in French cinema in 1958-9 – Italian and British filmmakers entered into a period of enormous creativity. Mainstream Hollywood films will be discussed along films from very many other countries. A feature film will screen at each session, along with many excerpts.


Sep 2017 (Completed)
This unique course exploring international cinema history continues with 12 more sessions running approximately three hours each. We’ll be looking at the films released around the world over the 24 months of 1962-3, a period that proved particularly rich for both European and American cinema. During this period Andrei Tarkovsky and Bernardo Bertolucci made their first films, James Bond made his first appearance, and great political thrillers – The Manchurian Candidate, Advise and Consent, Seven Days in May – emerged from Hollywood. A film will be screened in full at each session, there will be numerous excerpts and the class will be furnished with information about the political, social and cultural events that occurred during the period covered.


Feb 2018 (Completed)
This class covers the period 1964-1965.


Sep 2018 (Completed)
Now in its tenth year, this course attempts to examine the chronology of world cinema while placing cinema’s achievements in the context of world events, both political and social. During the period to be covered, the strict US Production Code that oversaw the censorship of films screened in the USA was drastically revised, ushering in an era of greater freedom for filmmakers, whilst at the same time challenging censorship in conservative countries like Australia. The consolidation of colour TV in the US also brought about the almost total switch to colour films – from black and white – in many countries. During this period the first of a new generation of young, movie-literate, directors began to emerge. Meanwhile, cinema in Europe continued to flourish, especially in the Communist countries of Eastern Europe. The course will cover as much ground as possible with a great many clips from the most interesting and important films of the two years and with a feature film screened in full at each session.


Feb 2019 (Completed)
Now in its eleventh year, this unique exploration of cinema history continues into two momentous years, years marred by political assassinations, the escalating Vietnam War, and traumatic events in Eastern Europe. Cinematically, though, this was a very rich period in which the decreasing impact of the big studios in Hollywood was countered by fresh and emerging independent talents the world over. The cinema of Eastern Europe and Latin America continued to break new ground as films as varied as If…., 2001 a Space Odyssey and Z reflected the era with pinpoint precision. Over twelve three-hour sessions we’ll look at some of the key films produced around the world, with numerous excerpts and a feature film screened at each session.


Sep 2019 (Completed)
David Stratton’s History of World Cinema, now in its 11th year, continues with a survey of the films made in 1970 and 1971. This was a time when new, young directors, like George Lucas, Hal Ashby and Robert Altman, were bringing a fresh approach to the increasingly staid Hollywood productions. It also marked the revival of Australian cinema – both Wake in Fright (1971) and Walkabout (1971) were made during this period. In Europe, Asia and South America, cinema was also passing through a period of change and renewal. A feature will be screened in full at each of the twelve weekly sessions, together with numerous excerpts designed to illustrated the breadth of the world of international cinema.


Feb 2020 (Current/postponed)
David Stratton’s History of World Cinema, now in its 12th year, continues with a close examination of the films of 1972 and 1973. A feature film will be screened at each of the twelve sessions, together with many film excerpts. Supporting documentation will also be provided. This period was a particularly vibrant one especially in America where new directors including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Terrence Malick, were making their first films.

Following the recorded case of COVID-19 infection within the wider University community, we are seeking to assist in the containment of the virus by postponing all sessions from 19 March onwards (weeks 6 to 12). Remaining content from 1972 and 1973 will be covered in the September course.


Sep 2020 (Upcoming)
This class covers the period 1972-1974.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • This course realises beautiful insights into film history and social history as well. I am thoroughly grateful for the experience of this wonderful course.

  • The course has been highly informative and satisfying. I have particularly admired David’s success in the last two semesters of encapsulating so many strands of the explosive change in the face of world cinema between 1958 and 1961.

  • David’s class is one of the highlights of my week (I’ve been going for years)! David is incredibly well informed and well prepared for each class. His enthusiasm for movies is irresistible.

  • It’s a brilliant course. I feel so blessed having such a tutor. Often I think I’d never in my life have the opportunity to see such interesting and often rare films and then to have such expert knowledge to guide us just adds to the enjoyment. This course is addictive.

  • As always, an excellent course which dramatically increases my knowledge of films, culture and history.

  • Thanks to the presenter for the enormous about of work and love that continues to be put into this History of World Cinema. Essential for anyone interested in the art and history of cinema.

  • Another extremely informative History Of World Cinema series. Confirms the presenter’s legend status. Fascinating main features and the many clips offer further films to explore. The semester just flew by!

  • Always good to have these wonderful nights to come back to when life deals out too many curves.

  • Hugely entertaining and informative. We hope this course never ends! We love every moment. It’s the highlight of our week.

  • Interesting and enjoyable course with good commentary to enrich clips and films.

  • The course is quite an outstanding overview of the history of World Cinema. Hugely informative with well chosen clips. A great experience.

  • An engaging and entertaining host who makes every movie shown to us special. The presenter’s passion for movies is infectious.

  • Another superb series in this unique overview of world cinema by the doyen of all things cinematic.

  • I have been attending these classes for eighteen years now and they keep getting better and better!

  • Every Thursday night was the highlight of my week, thanks to this course!

  • As always this course is a wonderful cinema experience.

  • The tutor’s choice of films and comments, both useful and humorous were brilliant as always.

  • Superb selection of clips and feature length films which reflects the tutor’s extraordinary love and knowledge of world cinema. A national treasure of film as your lecturer and guide to the many delights of film is something to savour.

  • Excellent course. The tutor’s knowledge of cinema is extraordinary and the care and love they invest in the selection of clips and feature length films needs to be acknowledged and praised.

  • The tutor is a national treasure, and I will keep watching films with them as long as the world keeps letting me do it.

  • Fascinating subject matter with excellent delivery, variety and pace.

  • I wish I had heard of this course earlier! I will be enrolling in it again next year for sure. The tutor is wonderful!

  • We are incredibly lucky to have one of the worlds foremost film critics and historians as our lecturer. Long may he continue with Continuing Ed!

  • Wonderful course with an exceptionally knowledgeable tutor.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the course, learnt a lot and admire the tutor’s vast storehouse of knowledge.

  • The tutor provides great insight into films I otherwise might never have thought to watch. A great way to spend a Thursday night!

  • It is such a pleasure to go along to this course – as usual the presentations were informative, interesting, entertaining.

  • The fact that I have done this course for the 7 semesters (3 and a half years) would indicate that I reckon its pretty good!

  • This is a thorough grounding in film history that is a fascinating experience to enjoy.

A History of World Cinema Course with David Stratton

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Film”}</p><p>{block name:“Block - COVID 19 updates”}</p><p>David Stratton’s History of World Cinema course explores in great detail the development and trends of world


What others say.

  • David's presentation of the history of a very wide range of subject is most impressive and enjoyable.
  • Once again, a beautifully curated course with a wide range of films including old favourites and new delights. The tutor is wonderful, sharing stories of his life in film along with the clips. Thank you!!
  • I wish I had heard of this course earlier! I will be enrolling in it again next year for sure. The tutor is wonderful!
We acknowledge the tradition of custodianship and law of the Country on which the University of Sydney campuses stand. We pay our respects to those who have cared and continue to care for the Country.