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on 8 December 2017
Wanted to get for a while, thanks. All ok
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on 22 July 2014
As a keen student of film and film history this for me is one of the premier books on the subject. It is not too dry and academic as some specialist books become, and it is obvious that the author is a passionate lover of film and cinema from around the world. I learned a great deal from this book and the accompanioning tv series and it gave me a much greater appreciation for world cinema.
If you love film as a medium then this book is a great way to delve further into the subject and it will definately extend your wishlist of movies to buy!
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on 7 May 2014
I liked this book a lot and like Mark Cousins style and approach, however I would recommend shelling out on the print edition, the Kindle version is frustrating, has words missing or mis-spelt, and the way the text works with the pictures hasn't been thought out at all. Shame.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 7 May 2013
Mark Cousins has always struck me as one of the film commentators who are totally reliable - along with people like Tony Rayns, Geoff Andrew and Jonathan Romney - in a world where there is a certain amount of pretension, it has to be said! Here he takes us through the whole of film history, essentially using his immense erudition to present the material in a totally accessible way. You don't need to have been on any course, or be intending to, for this to be a completely fascinating reading experience. In fact it has taken me several months to read it, and I shall go back to a lot of sections repeatedly. His basic premise is that there are a certain number of patterns for filmmakers to use which he calls schema, and he focuses on directors who in some way have changed these. They of course vary widely from one culture to another. One of the many strengths of the book is the way it puts Hollywood in a context, alongside other national cinemas, but not above them. And quite often it has not been Hollywood that has been producing the films that really merit attention. The implication is that it has dominated too much, although he would be the first to admit the brilliance of classic Hollywood films from the black and white era and the 70s. But he also has an especially high regard for India, Japan, China, Africa, Iran (this last in particular); in fact, just about everywhere has had their phases of remarkable creativity where cinema has been a national expression of some force. I find him very evenhanded on gender questions, in fact, often highlighting women directors who have led the way, and similarly he draws attention to a number of directors who have given expression to a gay sensibility, without drawing them together as such. I might have welcomed something along these lines, but you have no doubt that he rates Pasolini alongside John Ford, Agnes Varda, or Abbas Kiarostami. The only problem is that the story stops around 2001, with a foreword from 2011. I would very much like him to cover the remaining 12 years, which have thrown up a lot of excellent films, it seems to me, and particularly from women and gay directors. It is also very badly proofed - I've never seen so many typos in any other book, but other than that the paper is very durable and it is full of colour and black and white stills that illustrate his points brilliantly. The page layout is also outstanding.
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on 1 January 2012
The whole way through reading this book i kept thinking , Gombrich, Gombrich, Gombrich.
Gombrich wrote the definitive History of Western Art from the Byzantine to the end of the 19th C. His book was used to teach the Art History curriculum in British state schools until recently.

Cousin's book seems to be modelled on Gombrich's approach. The book cover resembles a cross between Gombrich's book - The Story of Art - and also Hughes - The shock of the New.

Much of the structure and approach to reinvigorating cinematic history seems to have come from Gombrich's approach to telling the story of aesthetic progression in painting and sculpture.

What we get is Cousin's at times sophisticated, and at other times, highly personal, often male-centric picking, choosing and moving through a progression of key works or movements, people or ideas across a broad spectrum of 'global' cinema in a basic progression through historical time.

There's no doubt that the book introduces a whole plethora of key works going right back to the dawn of cinema, which have simply been absent from previous cinema history books. It's worth reading the book in order to string together the knowledge of influential works he makes reference to.

The Gombrich/Hughes approach drives the book through a constant, both intermittently startling and new whilst at other times a little male and introverted in an attempt to keep the whole together.

There are absences some of which are surprising and some of which either Cousin's doesn't wish to discuss or he simply is not interested in. For example, no mention of Chris Marker's innovative and highly influential documentary work. No expansion of queer or feminist cinema which is also influential in challenging gender portrayal in cinema. No expansion of the development of the use of film and video as an Art form in the global Contemporary Art scene. In exchange for these omissions, Cousin's tends to alight briefly on each of his chosen subjects and it's best to make notes of the ones that interest you and seek further knowledge elsewhere.
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on 10 June 2005
Mark Cousins is known for fronting the now defunct 'Moviedrome'-series and the excellent 'Scene by Scene'- which also now seems defunct- where he interviewed figures like David Lynch and Martin Scorsese while taking in scenes from their brilliant careers. 'The Story of Film' advances on Cousins' journalistic work and combines with his academic work in the medium in Scotland...
'The Story of Film' does what he says on the cover really, a concise history of cinema focusing on movements and scenes accompanied by still-images from many of the films discussed. It's extremely user-friendly and would make an ideal primer to anyone interested in Film Studies - and a lot cheaper than books like 'Film Art' too! A book I'd rank up there with 'The Cinema Book' , 'The Oxford Guide to Film Studies' & Susan Hayward's book of film definitions (though the list of terms and further reading is a little short at the end- I'd like to have seen more titles included, a minor gripe though...)
'The Story of Film' is a riveting read that contextualises the greatest art form of the 20th Century and covers such figures as Werner Herzog, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Scorsese, Ken Loach, Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard, Steven Spielberg, Luchino Visconti...and so on. Great part on The New German Cinema, on the influence of Bertolucci's masterpiece 'The Conformist' (1970) on The New American Cinema (notably Paul Schrader) & on how the U.S. blockbuster (The Exorcist, Jaws, Star Wars IV: A New Hope) ultimately ruined the auteurist movement established by 'Easy Rider','Bonnie & Clyde','Taxi Driver','The Conversation' & 'American Gigolo.'
'The Story of Film' is excellently written, extremely informative and a breeze to read - ANYONE interested in film should read it...
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on 12 September 2014
Before I get my teeth into this review, let me make this absolutely clear: I am not saying that anyone is not entitled to their opinion. In fact, I'm a great lover of freedom of speech and the sheer joy of discussing films with friends.

So, the context is thus: I have been studying film at University since the beginning of 2008, stopping only briefly for one gap year. As of November 2014, I will likely have gained my second degree certificate in the academic study of film, officially marking me as a film buff. That being said, I do not see myself as an expert in film. Far from it. I do not consider my knowledge of film to even be close enough to even dream of being an expert. The author of this book, Mark Cousins, is an expert. That much is evident.

I bought this book during my gap year. I was starved for film knowledge and for once I actually had disposable income. It appealed to two of my biggest interests: film studies and history. I lugged it home (yeah, it's a surprisingly heavy book) and began to devour every page with a relish that I wish I could summon in other aspects of my life. And, to begin with, I was not disappointed. From the get-go, Cousins displayed a broad, in-depth knowledge of film from around the world. I got a sense of joy when films I knew about were mentioned and I was delightfully curious when films I didn't know were mentioned. (For reference, the ratio of films I knew in the film to films I didn't know was about 40-60.) I was getting what I really wanted from a film history book: film history. Names, dates, films and trends. Excellent stuff.

Then, all of a sudden things took a turn for the worse. In the chapter that dealt with the rise of the multiplex and the arrival of films like the Star Wars Trilogy, the tone of the book change. All of a sudden, Cousins was using wide, sweeping statements along the lines of “Star Wars and Gremlins were the death of cinema”. (This is not an exact quote, but it's not pretty far off.) That annoyed me. This tone went on throughout the author's description of the rise of Hollywood cinema, when he proclaimed that audiences only enjoyed Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Trilogy due to the effects. That is what crossed the line.

Not only is that statement a gross error, it is also completely out of place in a history book. I get that Cousins has a vendetta with post-Star Wars cinema. He's as entitled to his stupid opinions as I am to my stupid opinions. What annoys me is that he suddenly decides to turn what was previously a objective and strictly factual film history book into little more than a personal blog. If I wanted to be subjected to Mark Cousins's views, I would watch his self-indulgent TV show of the same name. (Which had annoying errors when I watched. Cousins claimed that the placing of bottles of Sake on the grave of famed Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu was an act of alcoholism. It's actually a time-honoured practice of honouring the dead. Do some research, Cousins.)

Moreover, it does an entire generation of filmmakers a huge disservice. Cousins may hate Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and every other films series like them, but surely even he should be able to see the monumental impact they have had on modern filmmaking, both mainstream and independent. Even if I wasn't a huge fan of these film series, I would be annoyed by this. To completely write off an entire genre of cinema is extremely close-minded.

My final mark for this book comes from my final feelings for it. Had Cousins managed to resist the temptation to wedge his personal vendetta into the book, I would be foaming at the mouth at how good it was. I can say honestly that the first two thirds of this book are brilliant. Cousins really knows his stuff and has a sharp, accessible writing style that appeals both to hardcore veterans of film and casual newcomers. But, I'm really disappointed that he couldn't be more objective about modern cinema. Even if he absolutely hates certain films, he should still be able to remain objective and examine the mammoth impact that these films have had on modern cinema.
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on 10 October 2011
great book and i recommend but dont expect any changes from previous editions apart from the forward.
the contents havent been changed at all and the previous edition can be picked up new or used for a far cheaper price.
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on 2 December 2010
This guy knows his onions.

It is not perhaps a book that anybody reads straight through. There is so much in it that one has to break off now and then to... watch a film. And he makes one want to catch up. This is a all a world away from slick, industry-driven journalism but it is also not arid "film studies" as he makes many interesting links between images across the decades.
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on 12 April 2007
This is a great book. I read this over a period of several weeks, one section at a time. It has so much information in it! It can be enjoyed by someone simply interested in a specific era of film; a student; a teacher; or for dipping in and out of as a reference.

Written in an easy style it does not assume any prior knowledge. I have studied film within a Cultural Studies degree and I still learned so much. A valuable resource with plenty of still images and other references to move on to.

It covers silent films: 1895-1928; sound: 1928-1990; digital from 1990 to date. A range of countries, genres films covered.

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