on 23 June 2004
This book contains most of the 'classic' essays from the major strands of film theory. It will make interesting reading for both undergraduate film students and anyone with a keen interest in film theory. If you are doing a film theory course and you want to read essays by the theorists mentioned in your lectures, then this book will more than meet your demands. If you are looking for an introductory guide to film theory and cannot choose between The Film Studies Reader and Approaches to Popular Film (its companion book), then I would strongly advise you to buy this, as it contains the actual essays that the writers of Approaches... refer to. This book misses out on five stars because the essays are often heavily abridged. But you can get the general gist of the writers' arguments. On the whole, I have found this extremely useful as a supplement to my film theory classes.
on 16 October 2013
...which is as a prospective film studies student. It might not hold much crossover appeal to other sectors of the population however. I guess this is how it goes for most academic books, but I must admit that this one really is quite inaccessible if you don't know what you vaguely want to get from it.
It's essentially a cluster of relevant segments from famous essays by famous scholars, with a sort of summary essay preceding them by the three main editors of the book (film lecturers from respective universities). This kind of format is really the only way they could have done it, but I can't deny that splitting the preceding essay in two, and maybe having it sandwiching the main bulk of the book, might be easier; quite often I'll read the preceding essay, pick up the main points, but then have forgotten them by the time I've gotten round to reading the actual essay (due to the sheer weight of the actual essay, I'm not lazy or have a bad attention span or cabbage).
In all seriousness though, and small niggles aside, this book is pretty much an invaluable goldmine and contains some fairly standard essays that most serious film students should at least be acquainted with (in particular, Francois Truffaut's legendary treatise on the auteur theory). The main strength of the book is that it only seems to print the relevant details, and if you like the essay then you are, of course, then compelled to seek out the essay in total. This seems, to me, academically robust, as the book acts as a nice entreé to lots of key theories, and then invites you to expand your field of knowledge in the area that you yourself are most interested in.
All in all, for film students; buy it. For hardcore film buffs; worth a look. For the casual filmgoer; it depends if you want to stay casual or not.