Film Art: An Introduction Paperback – Aug 1996
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Film Art is often assigned to college students taking their first film class. Authors David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson do not follow the traditional method of teaching film art through a close analysis of individual films. Instead, they provide an overview of the major issues students confront when they watch movies. In clear, straightforward prose, the authors describe and dissect the complexities of filmmaking, film narrative, film form, and film technique. This book serves as a fine introduction not only to the field of film studies, but also to the theories and concerns of two of the most important scholars in that field.
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"Film Art" is divided into five main sections: (I) Types of Filmmaking, Types of Films" covers how films are produced and the basic types/genres of films. (II) "Film Form" examines both narrative and nonnarrative formal systems in film, using "Citizen Kane" as a case study for narrative form. (III) "Film Style" is the main section of the textbook, dealing with the shot in terms of both mise-en-scene and cinematography, how editing relates shot to shot, and the function of sound. This section concludes with an analysis of film style in five diverse films. (IV) "Critical Analysis of Film" provides four distinct critical frames of reference and analysis of various films: Classical Narrative Cinema in "His Girl Friday," "North by Northwest" and "Do The Right Thing"; Narrative Alternatives to Classical Filmmaking in "Breathless" and "Tokyo Story"; Documentary Form in "High School" and "Man with a Movie Camera"; and From, Style and Ideology in "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Raging Bull" (and if that last combination does not give you an indication of the breadth of the examples used by Bordwell and Thompson, nothing will). The textbook concludes with a bibliography, glossary and list of helpful websites.
There are two major strengths to this textbook. First, its complete coverage of cinematic concepts. I think that everyone learns how to "read" a film, but the vast majority of people would not know that the baptism sequence in "The Godfather" is a prime example of "American montage." You read this textbook and you will become aware of things you already understood on a more abstract level. Additionally, they do not stop at first or second level terms, but get into the absolute nuts and bolts of cinema. Second, the use of specific examples from numerous films to demonstrate these concepts. Unless you have a film textbook that has a CD-Rom with miniature film clips, you cannot find one superior to what Bordwell and Thompson offer up here. Furthermore, their use of examples clearly demonstrates their formidable knowledge of the field. The only downside to using this textbook in your film class is that you might have a problem convincing your students you know half as much as this pair.
informative look at the history of films.
Well, to be honest, it has lots of pictures
and makes good use of them. If you love film,
you'll love this book.
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