Peter Cowie-Revolution!: The Explosion of World Cinema in the Sixties
62 b&w illustrations, 304pp Faber and Faber 2005
Peter Cowie is the author of more than twenty books on film. He served as international publishing director of Variety for many years. I apologise to the estate of Dean Acheson for having used the title of his memoirs for this review without first asking.
Contents: Acknowledgements ●Introduction ●1 Once Upon a Time in the Fifties ●2 Cinéphiles to Cinéastes: France in Transition ●3 The Realist's Eye ●4 The Big New Wave ●5 Burying 'Papa's Cinema' ●6 Towards a Fresh Aesthetic● 7 Commitment Comes in from the Cold ●8 1968 and All That... ●9 Aftermath: The Impact on Hollywood ●10 The Long Goodbye ●Notes ●Interviews ●Filmographies of Directors Interviewed ●Index
>>> An evocative and unique exploration of the most important era in international filmmaking. In film history, the sixties are commonly known as the golden age of international cinema. The period from 1958 to 1969 saw a brilliant explosion of talent not just in Europe but throughout the world. From Sweden and Poland to India and Japan, from Brazil and Hungary to Spain and Czechoslovakia, young filmmakers seemingly sprang out of nowhere, challenging the stale conservatism of fifties cinema. With films like Jules et Jim, 8 1/2, and Breathless, to name but a few, they flouted taboos both sexual and political while bringing sharper, fresher, franker, more violent, and more personal visions to the screen than ever before. In Revolution!, Peter Cowie discusses the themes, trends, and creative filmmakers of the period--including Antonioni, Bergman, Cassavetes, Fellini, Godard, Kurosawa, and Truffaut--while focusing on those whose voices still evoke the struggles and achieve-ments of the sixties and set the creative and intellectual standard by which today's finest films are still held.>>>Barnes & Noble
>>> Cowie never captures the fervor of the period. In sweeping arcs, he moves from country to country-from Italy to France to Eastern Europe, Great Britain, and the US-as he surveys the films and directors whose work defines the period: Antonioni, Truffaut, Polanski, Godard, and many other auteurs. But as the innovative films of this time used the jump-cut to move without transition from one scene to another, Cowie also jumps from one director, one film, one country to another, often without making the kinds of connections that would give cohesion to his work. He offers, for example, interesting primary material (transcripts of his interviews with the period's major filmmakers) but merely drops their remarks into the text verbatim, adding little comment. He covers many significant films, but often too briefly-he terms Deliverance a "masterpiece," but devotes only a half-sentence to it. Anyone who has never seen the film, or the several others he glosses over, will not comprehend their influence. And his pedestrian prose fails to mirror the revolutionary style of the times. Hollywood exerts its "siren call," movements begin "with a vengeance," and Pier Paolo Pasolini lives "at the cutting edge of scandal." More a notebook than a vital history. (62 b&w illustrations) >>>Agent: Laura Morris Kirkus Reviews
I can only reiterate what Laura Morris put so succinctly: (In my phrasing,) It is all there, but the gas is out of the bag. Having lived through that period myself (I am only four years younger than the author), I have no problem following at all - I know all the names, seen nearly all the movies, knew some of the people like Glauber Rocha and Dusan Makavejev, so the flood of names and references is not inconclusive to me at all - please note that I am not belittling Miss Morris; on the contrary, I admire her honesty and insight. As regards Mr Cowie's "pedestrian prose", I agree, but then, I generally find most film critics (not to speak of music critics, who are worse) not to write particularly well, and always with lots of redundancies - yet for Mr Cowie's particular case, his erstwhile colleagues Richard Roud and Thomas Milne (Milne, of all places, was born in Malacca) did very stylish, elegant writing.
For whatever it is worth, this is my one hundredth book review for amazon (us or uk). I have revlewed many Nouvelle Vague and related period books, and I generally found that the "fervor of the period" (Miss Morris) was only really caught by articles and books written during the actual period - like Neupert's NV, or the fantastic account by Josef Škvorecký: All the bright young men and women, A personal history of the Czech cinema (1972). Despite its imperfections, Peter Cowie's book, on top of being near free (its current trading price is next to nothing plus postage) is something of a prime source, and should almost be a must for anybody interested in film. Four star, but buy it, read it!
fbus 100 - Peter Cowie-Revolution: World Cinema in the Sixties -Present at the creation (2005) - 23/5/2013