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A History of Narrative Film Paperback – 10 Feb 2004
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About the Author
David A. Cook is a Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He is the author of Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-1979 (University of California Press, 2002).
Top customer reviews
In terms of content this book comprises 21 major sections, each of which has its own sub-categories. I am going to list some of the 21 major categories here and then explain why I have done so:
1) Origins 2) International Expansion 1907-1918 3) D.W. Griffith and the Development of Narrative Form 4) German Cinema of the Weimar Period 1919-1929 5) Soviet Silent Cinema and the Theory of Montage 1917-1931 6) Hollywood in the Twenties 7) The Coming of Sound and Colour 1926-1935... 9) Europe in the Thirties 10) Orson Welles and the Modern Sound Film... 13) The French New Wave and Its Native Context... 19) Third World Cinema... 21) Hollywood Enters the Digital Domain.
Just from these listed section headings one can already see that Cook's book covers film history from its earliest origins and progresses chronologically (as any good history should) through the twenties, thirties and up to the present era of digital cinema. I will also point out that World War 2 cinema is covered in other major sections including European Resistance Cinema of East and West Europe, and a specific section on post-war Italian Cinema. Another positive about this book is that, as can be seen from those sections listed, it covers all regions of the world from America to Europe, third-world countries and Asia.
As well as covering periods chronologically and considering regions all of the world, Cook also (very correctly) dedicates space to important personnel and films of the periods he covers; for example, there is a sub-section dedicated to "Das Kabinet des Dr. Caligari" (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) as it was the definitive example of German Expressionist Cinema. Similarly, a later portion of the book is dedicated to Orson Welles and specifically "Citizen Kane", which is famous for its narrative construction. Cook knows what was important and makes sure we don't miss it.
So, can this book get any better? YES it can, because although it is a very long text book there are many, many film and publicity stills used to support the text. This book is very thick and because of this a thin copy-paper has been used to minimise weight, but the major section dealing with colour gives the reader a wide array of high-quality colour photos that are printed on a thicker, higher-quality gloss paper.
Everything about this book shows that it is not just a text book for students; it is a well designed, well structured film history that is highly readable and contains more than enough images to keep everybody happy. The fact that higher quality paper is used for colour photos shows the desire to maximise saisfaction here, and the book succeeds at this. Students, teachers and film enthusiasts alike will want this book in their library.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Note the publishing year though, not only can you not tell the scholarly history of something that hasn't happened yet, but there is also the dual problem of even recent events being too soon to put into a solid historical context, but also the problem of having so much more material to even attempt doing so. The book does a good job telling what it doesn't know, however (and it's a kind of fun to read about DVD as a last medium before the rise of internet distribution, or filmmakers still pretty much being the first generation/class to think of CGI as and integral tool as a physical camera (as opposed to seeing CGI as an add-on effect)).
It wouldn't make sense to say there can every be one definitive history of something as broad as narrative film, but if you could only have one book, this would be a great choice. If you can have more than one book, well, this is one you'd want included. If you're just doing casual research, add imdb and a few good books on whatever particular aspect of the field you're looking into--and don't forget access to a film library to see works firsthand!