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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endlessley fascinating and charmingly innovative
We must be thankful that this series was made at all because while TV seems happy to take risks in drama and comedy it is fairly conservative when it domes to documentaries. The Story of Film is as good a place to start an appreciation of film as any. The joy of the show is that it celebrates world cinema and places it alongside innovations taking place in the US and...
Published on 30 Jan 2012 by M. Elliot

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marred by tech problem
The set is great. I don't have the problem with Cousins' accent as some reviewers, but on the discs that I have the volume level on his narration rises and falls, making it difficult to hear at some points. It doesn't affect the sound of the clips or the interviewees. Pity, because otherwise it's excellent.
Published 20 months ago by A. Bradford


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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endlessley fascinating and charmingly innovative, 30 Jan 2012
By 
M. Elliot (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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We must be thankful that this series was made at all because while TV seems happy to take risks in drama and comedy it is fairly conservative when it domes to documentaries. The Story of Film is as good a place to start an appreciation of film as any. The joy of the show is that it celebrates world cinema and places it alongside innovations taking place in the US and Europe. But it is not a polemic and Cousins succeeds in using the context of world cinema to ENHANCE our understanding and APPRECIATION of all cinema. The documentary is broadly chronological but like a superior drama Cousins uses references established early on to support later points e.g. the work of D W Griffith is used to help illustrate points made about spaghetti westerns and modern digital cinema. One emerges from this experience with an enriched understanding of the mechanics of cinema, an appreciation of the art of cinema, a hunger to explore unknown films and an admiration for a film maker who uses the simplest of techniques to tell his story. Cousins as filmmaker is matched by Cousins the narrator. Thoroughly recommended.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable AND educational - I.e. it widened my horizons, 16 April 2012
By 
J. R. Dersley - See all my reviews
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I'm writing this having watched the 15-week TV screening and this evening having attended the BFI launch of this DVD set, at which Mark Cousins introduced a 75 min taster and answered questions. I found the series compulsive and very instrumental in widening my horizon for cinema across the world and as an antidote to getting trapped by Hollywood dominance of the marketing of film. Cousins doesn't behave with disdain for all things Hollywood but he does place them in a wider global and temporal context. I found his style engaging and uncluttered, e.g. he doesn't deliver his narrative to camera, leaving the viewer free to concentrate on the over 1000 film clips he uses to make various points. He uses well-known films like The Third Man and Taxi Driver and eye-opening films from around the world, some well-known, others obscure. But they're all there for a reason, not as wallpaper while he speaks: each clip illustrates a particular point and fits into a carefully presented whole. The extent of his research to produce the series was extremely extensive both in identifying the clips to use and in the interviews he conducted.

I know several people who couldn't watch the TV series because of Mark Cousins' Irish inflexion. My wife was one of those but at this evening's BFI launch she had no problem. I urge anyone who reacts against his inflexion to try hard to get past it, to the enjoyable and educational insights he provides. It is, in my opinion, a masterwork by that most wonderful of things, an enthusiastic expert who just wants to engage more people in the subject he loves. In his own words, a love letter to the movies.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Story, 3 Nov 2012
By 
Brawny Withed (Leeds, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD] (DVD)
First of all I think this film described by it's Director/Writer/Narrator Mark Cousins as 'a Love Letter to Film'is a masterpiece of Documentary filmmaking.

The film is 15 hours in total spread over 5 Disc's from the birth of cinema in the late 19th Century to the present time. The film contains around about 1000 clips from films all over the world and the Director films in some of the locations around the world where pivotal moments occured and also interviews key players in the Story of Film.

I really enjoyed the 32 page booklet that comes with the boxset in which Mark Cousins discusses the making of the film and also shares some of his highlights from filming in various parts of the world.

Mark Cousins narration is a little difficult to get used to at first with his emphasis on certain word's and phrases and admitedly not a born narrator. But once you get over this you are able to enjoy the film without letting this spoil it for you.

My only critiscism of the DVD is that it doesn't have Subtitles which is disappointing.

As a companion to The Story of Film An Odyssey I would recommend the following films; Mgm: When the Lion Roars [DVD] [2009] [US Import] Easy Riders, Raging Bulls [2003] [DVD] That's Entertainment Box Set [DVD] and The Kid Stays in the Picture [DVD] [2003]

For anyone with a love of Film or is studying the subject this DVD is invaluable.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Film review, 3 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD] (DVD)
I was very excited when I received this package in the post! For anyone who loves film and is as fascinated by its history, this is a treat. Especially interesting is the way Cousins embraces a world view of cinema. The documentary goes for 15 hours - or a whole weekend not leaving the house - and includes interesting clips of some well-known and perhaps much lesser known film stories, from places ranging Calcutta, China, Japan, Senegal,Egypt and Iran, to the wonders of Northern European cinema, the Eastern Block, Hollywood, and less mainstream American and British film. I was particularly impressed by the early days of cinema and being able to see the origins of many Hollywood ideas in non-western and European cinema. Some interesting interviews with directors and actors including Sharmilla Tagore and Lars Von Trier, and some well chosen clips and discussions from the feast of cinema. It is in many ways good introduction to the ideas and movements in cinema history. Am inspired to see more of the work of Ray and Ozu now, and to show this dvd to my 89 year old dad who will just love this.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, fascinating story of film, 19 May 2012
By 
T Everson (Shropshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This is the long awaited DVD-release of Mark Cousins' 15-hour Story of Film, which was televised on More4 in late 2011. The length of the film really allows him to look in considerable depth at films, going right back to the origins in the late 19th century. There is no better history of film around, and the most compelling reason to buy this, if not for the fascinating story that is told, is for the sheer number of films that get introduced throughout. There's numerous common entries which would be expected (the first film shown is a scene from Saving Private Ryan), but we also get less obvious films discussed, such as early, obscure Ozu films from Japan, or generally understated Iranian films. It's also worth mentioning that he widens the horizons from a purely Western viewpoint, taking in films from a completely international spectrum. It's easy to make criticisms such as Cousins' self-narrating in an odd style, emphasising every word, but by persevering this can be overcome, or some of the unusual, handheld shots he has taken whilst researching this film throughout the world, but to concentrate on that is to miss the point, this really is the complete, fascinating story of film and I can't recommend it enough.

This 5-DVD boxset comes with a 32-page booklet, which is full of notes from Cousins about the shoot itself, as well as the various issues they had with editing etc. He explains that there are around 1000 film clips contained in the Story of Film, which really is a staggering amount, and suggests that this may be the only definitive history of film for a generation. He also mentions the effort they put into finding the best possible film elements with which to include in the film, and it was pleasantly surprising to see how sharp much of it looks on DVD, especially compared to the blocky, low-bandwith presentation on More4. Finally, Cousins intended this to be shown as one, huge, 15-hour film, and because of that the individual 'episodes' as they were shown on More4 are nowhere to be found here, and it was indeed presented at film festivals in this complete way. Therefore the only option on playing a DVD is to play the disc, that's it (though the film can be skipped through chapters whilst playing - there are around 20 on each disc).
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interestingly alternative film guide...., 26 Mar 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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Though I won't be buying this DVD, I did record all episodes of the TV series, shown on More4 at the end of last year onto my provider's box and then played them back over a week.

It was nice and refreshing to experience an alternative view - we've got used to the usual Barry Norman, or Mark Kermode viewpoints and the public Top 100 polls that are on Channel 4. Mark Cousin's relaxed and friendly narration (I quite enjoyed his quirky intonations) covered facts that I already knew about plus a lot more that I didn't. He's quietly passionate, suggesting and not preaching his opinions and allowing us the time and the actual film clips to firstly entice, then engulf us.

His promise to have us exploring film and finding fresh cinematic experiences and bringing them into our lives certainly made us think. His obvious love of certain directors and not others (Lubitsch, for example - he LOVED him, didn't he? and Stanley Donen) loosely fitted into my own mindset. I wanted to find gems that I knew nothing of - and I did - Mizagouchi, for example. I bought Mizagouchi's 8 DVD boxset from later in his career. Cousins had stated on more than one occasion that this Japanese master director was the world's greatest director - an opinion, sure, but it was a DIFFERENT opinion and one that I had no reason to doubt, such is his easy-going self confidence and knowledge.

Explored are not just the techniques, but the 'movements', the great directors and the future. From the Silent era to way into and beyond our digital 3D Multiplex era, he covers them all. But, the real passion is for unknown World cinema and those directors risking their livelihoods by pushing out the envelope just a bit further than anyone else.

I retain enough from the series in my memory to keep me going but for any who haven't seen it, they should, especially if they are a bit of a film buff or would like to go to film school, but can't. Ten easy lessons that help you enjoy cinema, not preach it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Limited scope, yet essential viewing, 2 Sep 2012
By 
Bert Vijn (Soegne, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD] (DVD)
This is not the history of film. It's the story of film as told by Mark Cousins, and as such one story amongst many possible ones.

The great charm of this story, its reason for existence and what makes it essential viewing for any filmbuff, is that Cousins almost solely concentrates on the films and directors that introduced new tools to the language of film - or rather: it concentrates on showing these innovations.

To my eyes and ears this is a driving tale about development - a tale that drags me in and doesn't let loose.

Very highly recommended, but know what you're going to.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Sweep, 21 May 2012
By 
Cicero (South London, UK) - See all my reviews
A masterly presentation of the history of worldwide cinema. I loaded the first disk but worried (having glanced through the accompanying booklet) that Mr Cousin's tastes might be too obscure for even this unashamed film addict. No problem. I was swept away immediately. Mark Cousins is a film fanatic, and an incredibly well informed one.

Several old favourites along the way. Some surprises too ("Flashdance"!). Also some surprising omissions - why no "Battle of Algiers", Tarkovsky's "Solaris", Bergman's "Wild Strawberries" or "Scenes from a Marriage"? Or even "Five Easy Pieces"? But I am nit-picking.

Gripping stuff overall, although I must confess to fatigue at certain points in disks 4 and 5. I felt that Mr Cousins banged on too much about Iranian realism. T.S.Eliot's quote that "humankind can only bear a little reality" sprang to mind!

WARNING: This boxset will turn you into a total film nerd! You will never view movies in the same way again! I keep commenting - "oh a closeup, a dissolve, a crane-shot, a wide-angled shot". And that's just for adverts!!!

Thank you Mark Cousins!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific story, awful narrative voice, 19 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD] (DVD)
So far watched the first disk and it is a terrific story. For anyone who wants to understand and know more about the art of film. It's insightful, complete, thorough, delves deep. Excellent!
But OMG Cousin's Northern Irish accent is grating on my nerves! Every - Single - Sentence is read out in the same monotonous tone. This is really hard to get past. I'm managing it but only barely! Why oh why did this production not invest in a professional sounding narrator?
Also there's no menu. So you're unable to choose a chapter to view and the disks are long. I will persist however and see the whole documentary. eventually I won't notice the voice anymore (I hope) and I will have learnt an awful lot.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced, entertaining, informative and comprehensive., 10 Feb 2013
By 
Hywel James "Hywel James" (Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD] (DVD)
Other reviewers have for the most part expressed enthusiasm for this survey of cinema, though there are some criticisms which personally I find hard to understand. The Story of Film:an odyssey is fair and thorough, and, contrary to what one reviewer here states, does indeed pay due attention to film-making in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and many other parts of the world regularly overlooked in such surveys - and in terms of distribution to cinemas in the UK. In addition there is a welcome emphasis given to the 'appearance' of films, of camerawork. The visual quality of this visual medium is stressed and often explained by freezing a frame and drawing attention to its composition, angle of shot, depth of focus and so on. I have only two criticisms:the discs are not indexed, so you have to click forward each time to find where you left off watching last time, and there are no subtitles available of Mark Cousins' commentary for anyone with hearing impairment.

I recommend The Story of Film strongly. It would make an excellent gift to any youngster beginning to take an interest in the movies and to anyone who enjoys film but who may not know much about its origins and technical and artistic development.
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The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD]
The Story of Film: An Odyssey [DVD] by Mark Cousins (DVD - 2012)
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