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The Story of Film [Paperback]

Mark Cousins
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Sep 2006
"The Story of Film" is the most accessible and compelling history of the medium yet published. Film critic, producer and presenter, Mark Cousins shows how film-makers are influenced both by the historical events of their times, and by each other. He demonstrates, for example, how Douglas Sirk's Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s influenced Rainer Werner Fassbinder's despairing visions of 1970s Germany; and how George Lucas' "Star Wars" epics grew out of Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress." "The Story of Film"is divided into three main epochs: Silent (1885-1928), Sound (1928-1990) and Digital (1990-Present), and within this structure films are discussed within chapters reflecting both the stylistic concerns of the film-makers and the political and social themes of the time. Film is an international medium, so as well as covering the great American films and film-makers, the book explores cinema in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and South America, and shows how cinematic ideas and techniques cross national boundaries. Avoiding jargon and obscure critical theory, the author constantly places himself in the role of the moviegoer watching a film, and asks: 'How does a scene or a story affect us, and why?' In so doing he gets to the heart of cinematic technique, explaining how film-makers use lighting, framing, focal length and editing to create their effects. Clearly written, and illustrated with over 400 stills, including numerous sequences explaining how scenes work, "The Story of Film" is essential reading for both film students and the general moviegoer.


Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pavilion Books (28 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862057605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862057609
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

MARK COUSINS has a first class degree in Film and Media Studies and Fine Art from the University of Stirling. He has since lectured on film history, been published internationally and made documentary films on arts and political themes. A former Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival, he now presents Scene-by-Scene on BBC television, conducting career interviews with actors and directors including Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Shohei Imamura, Jack Lemmon, Sean Connery, Tom Hanks, Dennis Hopper, Kirk Douglas, Rod Steiger, Jeanne Moreau, Lauren Bacall, the Coen Brothers, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Donald Sutherland, Ewan McGregor and Jayne Russell. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic achievement 7 May 2013
By schumann_bg TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Mark Cousins has always struck me as one of the film commentators who are totally reliable - along with people like Tony Rayns, Geoff Andrew and Jonathan Romney - in a world where there is a certain amount of pretension, it has to be said! Here he takes us through the whole of film history, essentially using his immense erudition to present the material in a totally accessible way. You don't need to have been on any course, or be intending to, for this to be a completely fascinating reading experience. In fact it has taken me several months to read it, and I shall go back to a lot of sections repeatedly. His basic premise is that there are a certain number of patterns for filmmakers to use which he calls schema, and he focuses on directors who in some way have changed these. They of course vary widely from one culture to another. One of the many strengths of the book is the way it puts Hollywood in a context, alongside other national cinemas, but not above them. And quite often it has not been Hollywood that has been producing the films that really merit attention. The implication is that it has dominated too much, although he would be the first to admit the brilliance of classic Hollywood films from the black and white era and the 70s. But he also has an especially high regard for India, Japan, China, Africa, Iran (this last in particular); in fact, just about everywhere has had their phases of remarkable creativity where cinema has been a national expression of some force. I find him very evenhanded on gender questions, in fact, often highlighting women directors who have led the way, and similarly he draws attention to a number of directors who have given expression to a gay sensibility, without drawing them together as such. Read more ›
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of film.... 10 Jun 2005
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
Mark Cousins is known for fronting the now defunct 'Moviedrome'-series and the excellent 'Scene by Scene'- which also now seems defunct- where he interviewed figures like David Lynch and Martin Scorsese while taking in scenes from their brilliant careers. 'The Story of Film' advances on Cousins' journalistic work and combines with his academic work in the medium in Scotland...
'The Story of Film' does what he says on the cover really, a concise history of cinema focusing on movements and scenes accompanied by still-images from many of the films discussed. It's extremely user-friendly and would make an ideal primer to anyone interested in Film Studies - and a lot cheaper than books like 'Film Art' too! A book I'd rank up there with 'The Cinema Book' , 'The Oxford Guide to Film Studies' & Susan Hayward's book of film definitions (though the list of terms and further reading is a little short at the end- I'd like to have seen more titles included, a minor gripe though...)
'The Story of Film' is a riveting read that contextualises the greatest art form of the 20th Century and covers such figures as Werner Herzog, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Scorsese, Ken Loach, Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard, Steven Spielberg, Luchino Visconti...and so on. Great part on The New German Cinema, on the influence of Bertolucci's masterpiece 'The Conformist' (1970) on The New American Cinema (notably Paul Schrader) & on how the U.S. blockbuster (The Exorcist, Jaws, Star Wars IV: A New Hope) ultimately ruined the auteurist movement established by 'Easy Rider','Bonnie & Clyde','Taxi Driver','The Conversation' & 'American Gigolo.'
'The Story of Film' is excellently written, extremely informative and a breeze to read - ANYONE interested in film should read it...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By twizz
Format:Hardcover
The whole way through reading this book i kept thinking , Gombrich, Gombrich, Gombrich.
Gombrich wrote the definitive History of Western Art from the Byzantine to the end of the 19th C. His book was used to teach the Art History curriculum in British state schools until recently.

Cousin's book seems to be modelled on Gombrich's approach. The book cover resembles a cross between Gombrich's book - The Story of Art - and also Hughes - The shock of the New.

Much of the structure and approach to reinvigorating cinematic history seems to have come from Gombrich's approach to telling the story of aesthetic progression in painting and sculpture.

What we get is Cousin's at times sophisticated, and at other times, highly personal, often male-centric picking, choosing and moving through a progression of key works or movements, people or ideas across a broad spectrum of 'global' cinema in a basic progression through historical time.

There's no doubt that the book introduces a whole plethora of key works going right back to the dawn of cinema, which have simply been absent from previous cinema history books. It's worth reading the book in order to string together the knowledge of influential works he makes reference to.

The Gombrich/Hughes approach drives the book through a constant, both intermittently startling and new whilst at other times a little male and introverted in an attempt to keep the whole together.

There are absences some of which are surprising and some of which either Cousin's doesn't wish to discuss or he simply is not interested in. For example, no mention of Chris Marker's innovative and highly influential documentary work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars First two thirds are top-notch; final third is utter tripe
Before I get my teeth into this review, let me make this absolutely clear: I am not saying that anyone is not entitled to their opinion. Read more
Published 9 days ago by C. Dunster
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopefully person will love it.
Bought as a gift for 50 birthday. Hopefully person will love it.
Published 1 month ago by Helen A Gage
4.0 out of 5 stars outstanding precis of the medium
As a keen student of film and film history this for me is one of the premier books on the subject. It is not too dry and academic as some specialist books become, and it is obvious... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matt
2.0 out of 5 stars Formatting on Kindle a let down
I liked this book a lot and like Mark Cousins style and approach, however I would recommend shelling out on the print edition, the Kindle version is frustrating, has words missing... Read more
Published 4 months ago by grh101
4.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Film
This was a gift for a film buff. I looked through it and thought it was informative and interesting.
I was surprised that the old films got away with such erotica and horror.
Published 9 months ago by rosemary robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars present!!
bought as a present for father in law, bit of a film buff, said thoughly enjoyed it, so a good buy!!
Published 11 months ago by Kevin Saunders
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
A wonderful journey through the history of film. The breadth and scope of this book is amazing and I found it hard to put down. I also have the DVD, which I would highly recommend. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr J R Colebrook
5.0 out of 5 stars a present and was well received.
Good value again for the product.My nephew was thrilloed with this book. Saw it reviewed and thought it was a good present well received
Published 19 months ago by marion richards
5.0 out of 5 stars present
Bought for a present. Great photos and looks great too. My daughter was very happy with it she is a media student..
Published 22 months ago by Chatterbox
4.0 out of 5 stars What about the masses?
Excellent accompaniment to an excellent and incisively comprehensively television series. Others have described it much more eloquently, moving swiftly on. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2012 by Nick
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