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American Cinema/American Culture Paperback – 1 Feb 2012

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Meloy9156 20 Sept. 2012
By MeloyW - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book helped me understand more about American film than I ever expected. It brought me from the 1890's all the way up through 2011. Which is a huge difference in movie making and in history. This book has a strong sense of history throughout its pages, guiding the structure of a lot of the chapters as a whole. I enjoyed how it was structured and how the message was given to the reader. The book not only is a history lesson of film but it introduces you to the aesthetics and film form basics. It introduces and explains basic vocabulary of the narrative and the stylistic practices. It gives you the insight to see how things were done and even more importantly why they were done that way. There is a lot that a person can learn from this book as long as they take the time to actually read and absorb its content. It is a very informative book and it keeps your attention throughout. It is not the typical textbook, that tends to be bland and un-interesting, it will definitely give you the necessary perspective to learn more about American Cinema.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A lot of information but worthwhile if you are interested in cinema 3 May 2013
By DuaneP - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book for my American cinema class. This book has a lot of information and can be overwhelming at time if you are reading a lot in one sitting. I think this book is great for someone who really wants to know the history of cinema and is interested to know how films are structured and designed. I will give you a brief summary of each chapter. The author John Belton divided the book into main parts. Part 1 is titled "The Mode of Production". Chapter 1 is about the emergence cinema as an institution and talks about how cinema functions as both a social and technological institution. He talks about Thomas Edison and the kinescope which lead to nickelodeons and eventually full films. Chapter 2 is titled "Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narration" and is about how cinemas shifted to more of a narrative style. He then talks about segmentation and circular patterns in which Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush is analyzed and broken down. The next chapter talks about cinema style and explains details in films including camera angles and distance. There is a whole section on lighting and shows you the different kinds including three-point lighting and high/low key lighting. Chapter 4 is about the studio system which was created to mass produce films. During this time period movie stars were locked into seven-year contracts. The author lists the movie studios that were around in this era and continue to me around like M.G.M, Paramount, Warner Bros, and Universal Pictures to name a few. Chapter 5 explained "The Star System" which involves making stars and star power itself. He explains the differences between a star and an actor. The author explains the characteristics of the stars of different eras.
The next section is "Genre and The Genre System" which starts off with chapter 6 "Silent Film Melodrama ". Melodrama means a drama accompanied by music. This leads into the next chapter which covers musicals. He goes into the different musical forms which include backstage musicals. Integrated musicals include the very famous Singin' in the Rain. Chapter 8 is about American comedy which discusses the different kinds including romantic comedies and screwball comedies. War and Cinema is the next chapter and talks about how the different wars influenced cinema. There have been dozens of movies that are set in World War II which include Saving Private Ryan. The next chapter is "Film Noir: Somewhere in the Night". Film noir is a French phrase that means black film. It refers to an American phenomenon of films that dealt with postwar despair and alienation. The next two chapters deal with three different genre of American film: westerns, horror, and science fiction.
The last section is dealing with postwar history which chapter 13 starts with the cold war. It explains how the tensions of the cold war were reflected in films. Movies of this time reflected cold war paranoia. Hollywood in the age of television is the next chapter and talks about the role of television including the introduction of tapes/dvd. Chapter 15 talks about the 1960s which saw the civil rights movement and counter culture. The next chapter discussed the film school generation which saw directors as stars for the first time. The last chapter goes into the twenty-first century. Reaganite entertainment is discussed here. These films are centered on reassurance, optimism, and nostalgia. As you can see there are a lot of topics covered in this book. However of you are really into films and all its workings, this book is for you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
America Cinema and American Culture 6 May 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
American Cinema / American Culture is the book I had to purchase for my American Cinema course. The book is a historical journey of the American film and movie industry from the late 1800s and through the year 2011. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 consist of chapters 1 through 5 discuss the early emergence of cinema as an institution from Edison's invention of the Kinetoscope, peepshows and projectors. Part 2 deals with the genres and the different genre movies from the silent film melodramas, musicals to American comedy and war movies. Part 3 takes a look at post war history. There is one thing I learned from this book that I will not forget, the meaning of Nickelodeon. I thought Nickelodeon was a cutie name someone came up with for a network dedicated to kids programming. Chapter 2 and 3 examines the classical Hollywood cinema narration and the classical cinema style. I enjoyed reading about the old Hollywood studio system and star system. Without a doubt stars sell films and I was surprise to learn who the three stars were that appeared in seven consecutive blockbusters that have earned over $100 million each. It was interesting to get a better perspective of how Hollywood sees minority and black actors. I learned how pioneers like Thomas Edison, and George Eastman inventions contributed to the film industry. Also, how companies like Bell Telephone, Western Electric, American Telephone & Telegraph, General Electric and Westinghouse help the mass production of movies.
I have a better understanding of musicals, but I am not a big fan of musicals. But, for those who are, you will enjoy reading about the evolution of these films. I did not know that there were so many categories of comedy. Silent, slapstick, romantic, screwball and geek are all forms of comedy. The author explains all these forms of comedy and how they are woven into film. War and cinema looks at war movies from a psychological and political view were morality is suspended and America's isolationist stands on not getting involved in World War I. Oedipus complex represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual's powerlessness against the course of destiny in a harsh universe. The Oedipus complex is played out in several war movies.
Horror and some science fiction movies generate horror, terror or dread in the audience by threat of a monster or the threat it represents to humanity. Chapter 12 examines this genre of movies from the conquering of the monster. Also, by discovering a weakness of the monster or solving a terrifying situation.
Part 3 the postwar history Hollywood spawned spy movies and cold war thrillers and the advancement of democracy. The turbulent 60s marked the counterculture strike back. War was waged on multiple fronts; the youth movement with students in antiwar protest and cultural differences with people under age 30 and American values. Also, the 60s saw the Civil Rights Movement. The book concludes with and examination of fantasy films and digital technology.
Excellent NonFiction Survey of American Culture Through Cinema 6 May 2013
By Denise Sparhawk - Published on
Format: Paperback
I purchased American Cinema American Culture by John Belton as a textbook for a University level course. Our course was taught by a Professor who made cinema come alive in context of the age in which movies were made. His focus was on cultural context and how the movies both reflected the time in which they were made and spoke to the cultural aspirations of the moviegoing public. While this textbook is an excellent companion to coursework, it also stands on its own as a survey of the historical perspective of movies. While not everyone will be interested in watching movies for more than a good story told well, those who are will find this book to be an excellent read.

The textbook is a comprehensive survey that takes us through the earliest emergence of cinema to the early 21st century. In Part 1 "The Mode of Production" society and technology are explored. We develop our understanding of cinema alongside the evolving institution of cinema. We learn how Kinestoscope arcades were modeled on photograph parlors, and are reminded that Edison was instrumental in developing early technology. We also learn how even in the earliest introduction of technology, developers were cautious to ensure their inventions were profitable. From my perspective of 2013, I would think the technology would develop as quickly as the inventions coule keep up and be introduced. But instead we learn that Edison refused to develop projection technology because he reasoned exhibitors would purchase only a single machine. As new inventors come online, we see entertainment move from vaudeville and live acts to mass cinema. And in this evolution we begin to see how the vox populi influence cinema and vice versa.

The textbook is well edited and organized for adult learners. Rather than a purely linear and historical progression, the text introduces the reader to seminal themes and then advances the ideas through time by citing various movies in which these themes appear. We are introduced to classic Hollywood in Chapters 3, 4 and 5 with interesting reading on style, and the studio and star systems in Hollywood. In this timeframe movies develop as technology and theatergoers' became more sophisticated and their expectations greater from this art form. The author explores narrative, characters and their goals. The process of segmenting a film and focusing on development of the plot was particuarly fascinating to me. We remember to see cinema as individual stories with arcs of story and characters and are reminded of the importance of perception and misperception as ways of progressing stories. And as in each section select filmography is identified.

In Part 2 the authors explore Genre and Genre Systems. Here we learn to appreciate musicals, comedy, war and one of my favorites Film Noir. The genres are introduced and discussed in depth, all the time tied with the eras in which they were being made and consumed. Part 3 focused on Postwar History where the authors provide us perspective on the development of cinema during the Cold War. We learn how the introduction of television affected Hollywood and cinema. We start to see what impact culture had on the movies produced and censorship as the greater "majority" began to take a keen interest in what entertainment was being consumed.

In summary I found this textbook to be an excellent survey of cinema in an almost althropoligical context. More than learning timelines and dates, I took from my reading a more informed appreciation of movies of current and previous ages. I would recommend this as reading for anyone interested in appreciating the movies they watch, and opening their minds to the most powerful art form of the age in which we live. I plan to keep this textbook and read it as an excellent nonfiction book that both informs and entertains.
Innovative Change 4 May 2013
By mochaa_mint - Published on
Format: Paperback
American Cinema/ American Culture 4th edition book written by John Belton is a good tool for students who are interesting in studying film or, want to get a better understanding of the industry. College books have gotten a bit expensive. A new copy of the book is $89.00, while a used copy is $40. My chose of use was rental. I would have liked to have purchased this book paper back for future references just to revisit what I have read.

John Belton's goal is to make film studies more appealing to students. He teaches in-depth how the reader can think outside the box. Times has changed; therefore, the movie industry has changed too. Hollywood has become aesthetically influential by shaping and changing images. The filmmaking foundation has established filmmaking schools to educate new innovative students. Surrealism has influenced the arts through the subconscious of the mind. Surrealists were able to create and act out their secret unmerited desires.

John Belton views films as an art as well as visual, fine art and theater. Public professionalism, images, and style are the features the cinema industry is attracted to. Films and movies have shaped our cognitive behavior and our physical behavior as well. The author mention, that self-image is important because the roles one plays influences others. However, new art explores the mind subconsciously creating the surrealistic art. John Belton embraced the change in Hollywood. He expresses how important diversity is and how it will change the political and cultural elements of the cinema. Appealing to the public impacts inspiring youth to become actors and actresses. The film industry and its lifestyle has changed the persona of film producers. The film industry has become a very profitable money making organization.

America Cinema author John Belton talked about the motion, picture movement. This industry has changed from the classic Hollywood, studio to the new innovated Hollywood. Early film featured silent films, Westerns, comedies, musicals, and live theater. Prior to the new wave, early films were prerecorded and edited. The new Hollywood trend transformed contemporary actors to stardom through mass media. Television replaced the motion picture with live entertainment; a new technology had emerged.

In conclusion, technology provided advancement for future production. The industry expanded its ideas through the mass media, digital instruments, audio sounds, and 3-d video. The internet and cyber net is another form of media. The viewer's participation has influenced the impact of production and marketing. This has encouraged a change in the way major studios use stereo sound. Younger innovated artists are changing the face of the failing film industry through their efforts. This book focused on the interplay between America Cinema and Mass Media. The author explains how past cultures existed through history in the film industry. The demand for films has become a lucrative industry. Art developed and changes on a continuum; the motion picture, sound production, digital media, and internet have changed the world forever. The new age has brought new talent and energy to the world of entertainment.
American Cinema/American Culture
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