on 16 July 2012
This is the latest version of the ever-dependable THE FILM ENCYCLOPEDIA by (sadly-deceased) film journalist Ephraim Katz. Since its inception over 30 years ago, this one-volume doorstopper has maintained its editorial independence and strived to be the best all-round collection of film knowledge and facts.
At over 1600 pages, the book has grown substantially over the years. Each version has kept the previous version's content, meaning that there's never been a need to keep older ones. As always, it is detailed and covers most subjects and people within the world of film, that most people will ever need to know about. Whilst it will never compete with certain online film databases, for a single-volume paperback, this will be worth its weight for the majority of readers.
Likewise, it won't please everyone. No single-volume book ever could. But, my only reason for not giving it five stars, is that there are still entries missing, that I believe a UK-based film encyclopedia needs to start including. There are no entries for:
- Anime (Japanese animation), though a couple of films are mentioned under "Japan". This is an ever-growing, ever-more-popular genre, that really does need to at least be mentioned and expounded upon, if not covered in explcit detail. It's not mentioned under Animation either, which makes its ommission even more galling. The past 10-20 years has seen an explosion in this genre, and it's produced some stunning works, including the Oscar winning "SPIRITED AWAY".
- the "British Board of Film Classification", nor Censorship as an issue at all. Considering that film as an artistic medium has been subject to some of the most drastic, dangerous and provocative cuts and bannings, this subject is pretty much imperative, and its ommission is a horrible one. Even a cursory history should have been included.
- Digital Cinema, DVD and Blu-Ray's: again, a devastating ommission, considering so many modern filmgoer's and viewers now watch a substantial amount of film on these home-viewing formats. The fact that many films are now only shown from digital prints, rather than on 35mm celluloid, is something that needs to be explained. Moreso with many cinemas now going over to digital, and dismantling or removing their standard and trusty 35mm projectors.
I'm sure there are lots of other subjects, people and terms that could and should be included, but those three for me, are three of the most noticeable missing entries. I hope that they will be included in the 8th Edition.
Lastly, the cover is a little bland. Not much effort appears to have gone into its thought, and it looks cheap, and not the kind of thing I would expect from a book that was trying to be a serious, scholarly volume on cinema. Considering the book has no other images, as noted in the prefact, it's a real shame that more thought wasn't put into the cover. I would also argue for it to be released in hardback, as the paperback binding won't take long to start cracking and breaking - rendering your lovely encyclopedia, looking more like a well-thumbed telephone directory.
With that all said, however, it's still a great book, and if you only own one book on cinema, this should be a serious contender for ownership in your personal library. A hefty tome, but a worthwhile one.