on 20 February 2012
Seriously, this book is head and shoulders above the rest of the books on film, it is very wordy and took me a whole week of non stop reading to finish it. Kevin Brownlow grew up loving silent film and he had the good sense to go to Hollywood and interview the great and the good on silent film, never have I come across an author who has had access to so many big names. But this isn't the only thing to recommend it, Brownlow takes the unwhieldy birth of film right through to the event of sound and makes it flow in a sensible chronological order, never stalling because one section is technical or boring. I wish all writers had this gift. After many years devoted to saving silent film and reading about it, Kevin Brownlow was honoured with a special Oscar last year. Heaven's only knows he deserves it.
Later he made a documentary called Hollywood with Thames TV, now out of production, if you ever get a chance to watch it this is the best documentary ever filmed too.
on 5 December 2003
This is an amazing book, but not, I warn for, for the uninitiated! Scores of pioneer filmmakers from the early days of American filmmaking are interviewed at length about their legacy, and the book abounds with fascinating details, anecdotes and credos, although I have to admit the book would benefit from a more thorough editing - not everything, to put it mildly, is equally interesting. Having said that, I enjoyed my first read which was only recently, and I find myself rereading chapters and using the index frequently. There is no other book to give you this first-hand insight.
on 22 August 2001
This is a fascinating, wonderful book written by the worlds expert on the silent film era. Using interviews from those who were a part of the history themselves, Kevin Brownlow has crafted a beautifully written, detailed account of what it was really like back when films were just starting.
on 21 May 2014
The era of film when all visual and technical advances were being was the silent era. Since that time, however, the silent screen has practically been seen as another medium entirely. There is an argument for it being so regarded: it's genius much apart from film with words. Usually though it has been regarded as prehistoric, a period of 'warming up' until sound came. When the brilliant men and the women of the period were getting old in the 1960s, there started to be some interest in those days, but not enough interest to have mattered had not Kevin Brownlow stepped up. He took it upon himself to interview the experts of the may areas of silent film, and put down everything that was most informative and exciting onto paper in this book. Without Brownlow, there would be an enormous gap, a chasm, as no-one else came close to achieving this. A magnificent book with clearly very few equals in film writing.