Fall 2015

The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez

Listed in: Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-359  |  Spanish, as SPAN-391


Frederick L. Aldama (Section 01)


(Offered as SPAN 391 and FAMS 359.)  In this seminar we will explore how Robert Rodriguez’s films—from his earliest short “Bedhead” in 1990 to the Machete in 2010—creatively texture three decades of social and historical change that inform the U.S. Latino experience. We will explore issues of content (race, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and class) as well as how Rodriguez uses formal devices (lighting, camera angle and lens, sound, editing, and mise-en-scène) to give various shapes to his many filmic stories. We will consider, for instance, how his comic-book approach to filmmaking allows him to create films that push at the boundaries of social and natural norms. We will also explore questions of production and consumption, including how his films trigger different thoughts of and feelings toward Latinos in new and innovative ways.  Finally, by analyzing his film repertoire, we will identify a coherence and consistency in Rodriguez’s approach and worldview that opens audience eyes to new ways of seeing Latinos in the world. Students will acquire the tools developed in film theory and concepts from Latino Studies to analyze the films of Robert Rodriguez within the broader perspectives of the study of U.S. popular culture. We will learn a variety of approaches and methods for studying Rodriguez’s films—as well as develop our own approach and method in response to critically consuming his films.  In our analysis of Rodriguez’s films we will learn of the social, historical, and cultural significance of Latinos in the U.S.  Primary viewing materials will include “Bedhead” (1991); El Mariachi (1992); Roadracers (1994); Desperado (1995); “The Misbehavers” (in Four Rooms) (1995); From Dusk Till Dawn (1996); The Faculty (1998); Spy Kids (2001); Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003); Sin City (2005); Planet Terror (2007); Machete (2010); Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D (2011); Machete Kills(2013); Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014). For secondary readings students will study chapters from Aldama’s The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez along with the work of Chon Noriega, Charles Ramírez Berg, and Rosa Linda Fregoso. Conducted in English.

Fall semester. Professor Aldama.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015