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The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies Paperback – 21 Mar 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (21 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520246225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520246225
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

"David Bordwell is our best writer on the cinema. He is deeply informed about films, he loves them, and he writes about them with a clarity and perception that makes the prose itself a joy to read. Because he sees movies so freshly and deeply he isn't deceived by the usual categories and finds excellence and experiment in unexpected places." - Roger Ebert "There is no shortage of scholarly literature on contemporary Hollywood, but none of it lives up to the standards set by Bordwell here. No one else has this range, depth, sophistication or authority. More remarkable still, Bordwell pulls this off with remarkable lightness of touch." - Murray Smith, University of Kent"

About the Author

David Bordwell is Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies and Hilldale Professor of Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Among his books are Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging (California, 2004), Film History: An Introduction (with Kristin Thompson, 2002), Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment (2000), and On the History of Film Style (1997).

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In the mid-1990s, Cameron Crowe decided to write a movie with a real story, the kind that shows up on TV late at night, usually in black and white. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Follows on 11 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book for both students of film theory and for working filmmakers. It is fair, balance, well written and extremely well researched. The book is split into two sections - one covering story in post 1960 film and the other analysing directorial style during the same period.

The previous reviewer presented a very selective view on Bordwell essays. By commenting "This is a superb insight into the modern lapse into lazy film making" the reviewer completely neglects Bordwell's thoughts on story and screen-writing.

Certainly, in the second half of the book Bordwell neatly illustrates the lack of focus in modern direction, taking 'Two Week's Notice' and 'Lord Of The Rings' as examples of muddled directions. But this is an oversimplification as he also illustrates the changing tastes of modern directors. For example, he presents a comparison of the same scene in the 1968 and 1999 versions of 'The Thomas Crown Affair' highlighting the different approaches.

However, in the first section Bordwell provides a much more positive view on modern scriptwriting. His detailed analysis of `Jerry Maguire' is a fabulous case in point. Through telling the story of Cameron Crowe's journey to emulate his hero Billy Wilder and by breaking down the script's core components Bordwell shows us the complexity in some modern Hollywood fare.

To simply call the book an "insight into the modern lapse into lazy film making" is to do it a disservice.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Conor Murphy on 11 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a superb insight into the modern lapse into lazy film making. The section discussing Lord of The Rings use of reverse shots is particularly revealing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Nobody Does it Better! 24 Oct. 2006
By Tony Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Like the author's other works, this is a highly meticulous and empirical study of the way contemporary Hollywood films function. Paying close attention to selected films by intensive frame analysis, Bordwell calls into question many contemporary "sibboleths" concerning the status of "post-Hollywood" which he reveals as having more connections with its classical counterpart than most critics believe. His attention to fine detail and references to "American Cinematographer" and screenwriting manuals reveal that he has really done his homework. He challenges his contemporaries to do likewise before they engage in problematic "post" judgements whether they be on the realm of postmodernism, post-colonialism, and post- anything which may become academic equivalents of those formerly fashionable platform shoes or flared trousers that often date episodes of the 1970s British cop series THE SWEENEY.

The references to contemporary Hong Kong cinema and analysis of films such as Johnny To's A HERO NEVER DIES are also valuable components of this book. Like DRAGNET's Sergeant Joe Friday, Bordwell insists that we supply facts based on viewing the evidence ourselves. We should not ignore important empirical aspects before we begin to make meanings that may eventually prove to be non-substantial. Those who choose to avoid the well-researched findings of this book should be issued with speeding tickets and forced to attend a scholarly version of "community service" or "boot camp" involving the detailed viewings of as many films as possible, reading interviews with film directors, and studying important journals such as AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER. This is equally important for those newly converted "film experts" in English Departments of postmodernist persuasion who recently discover Laura Mulvey's 1975 essay on "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" and regard it as a "gospel" truth which remains unaltered today! These feelings are more akin to non-linguistic theological studies and not the highly textual, linguistic based explorations of biblical and near eastern studies that relay on studies in pre-semitic studies, Canaanite, Aramaic, and Arabic studies to reveal key empirical structures influencing "holy writ."

This is another indispensable work by an important scholar that every serious professor and student should learn from even if it only involves better interpretation and a more professional "making of meaning."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent study of post-classical Hollywood filmmaking 11 Dec. 2009
By S. Follows - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Excellent study of post-classical Hollywood filmmaking, 11 Dec 2009

I highly recommend this book for both students of film theory and for working filmmakers. It is fair, balance, well written and extremely well researched. The book is split into two sections - one covering story in post 1960 film and the other analysing directorial style during the same period.

In the first section Bordwell provides a positive view on modern scriptwriting. His detailed analysis of `Jerry Maguire' is a fabulous case in point. Through telling the story of Cameron Crowe's journey to emulate his hero Billy Wilder and by breaking down the script's core components Bordwell shows us the complexity in some modern Hollywood fare.

In the second half of the book Bordwell neatly illustrates the lack of focus in modern direction, taking 'Two Week's Notice' and 'Lord Of The Rings' as examples of muddled directions. But this is an oversimplification as he also illustrates the changing tastes of modern directors. For example, he presents a comparison of the same scene in the 1968 and 1999 versions of 'The Thomas Crown Affair' highlighting the different approaches.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Movies 101 29 Nov. 2010
By olingerstories - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Bordwell's THE WAY HOLLYWOOD TELLS IT deconstructs classical and modern movies by pentrating analysis of both story, editing, and filming. His explanation of Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire and Crowe's plotting is as good as any review you're read from Kael or Hunter. Bordwell explores how longer takes have been replaced in the modern scene by shorter, quicker edits in the name of not avoiding audience boredom. The number of movies listed is prodigious. The research involved is staggering. A first-rate book for any movie lover.
Great book, great textbook 5 Nov. 2006
By Nikica Gilic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Bordwell is one of the most widely read film scholars around, and not without reason: he writes with ease and ellegance, his insights are often deep and almost always relevant, his starting points are usually essential for better understanding cinematic art. Is he always right?
Of course not, he is not a religious profet or Jacques Lacan (Oops!).

However he usually describes the area of his study quite well, cites references and data he would like you to check in order to see whether he is right and, well, does serious scholarly work. Not a small achievent in a fastly globalizing (and fastly "mcdonaldsizing") academic community of cultural gurus who know everything about everything... Therefore, when you disagree with him (as I sometimes do), you usually know what your are disagreeing about and why.

This book is another Bordwell's insightful contribution to the study of American and global cinema (styles in cinema are basically more international/global than in literature; probably less than in classical music or jazz), explaining how contemporary cinema develops from older stylistical patterns. From the era of silent movies or Slavko Vorkapic's experiments for Frank Capra to modern-era (greatly digitalized) blockbusters, Hollywood's manners and procedures of telling a story can be compared with quite a fruitfull result.
Ofcourse, simple description of stylistic trend or procedure does not directly serve as a proof of aesthetic value, but the subject of this book is, basically, style, not aesthetic value or anything else that can be connected to (and is intertwined on many levels with) style.
This book is equally useful for scholars, teachers and (thanks to his nice style and clear argumentation) students of cinema and all other educated art lovers.
Very useful for a movie critic or for any film lover 5 Nov. 2014
By Molto Canape - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very useful for a movie critic or for any film lover. Bordwell deserves his reputation as one of the great and most influential film academics of our time.
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