On the History of Film Style By David Bordwell

The study of cinematic style has profoundly shaped our attitude toward movies. Style assigns films to a tradition, distinguishes a classic, and signals the arrival of a pathbreaking innovation. David Bordwell now shows how film scholars have attempted to explain stylistic continuity and change across the history of cinema.
Bordwell scrutinizes the theories of style launched by André Bazin, Noël Burch, and other film historians. In the process he celebrates a century of cinema, integrating discussions of film classics such as The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane with analyses of more current box-office successes such as Jaws and The Hunt for Red October. Examining the contributions of both noted and neglected directors, he considers the earliest filmmaking, the accomplishments of the silent era, the development of Hollywood, and the strides taken by European and Asian cinema in recent years.
On the History of Film Style proposes that stylistic developments often arise from filmmakers’ search for engaging and efficient solutions to production problems. Bordwell traces this activity across history through a detailed discussion of cinematic staging. Illustrated with more than 400 frame enlargements, this wide-ranging study provides a new lens for viewing cinema.

The Classical Hollywood Cinema By David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, Kristin Thompson

Acclaimed for their breakthrough approach, Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson analyze the basic conditions of American film-making as a historical institution and consider to what extent Hollywood film production constitutes a systematic enterprise, in both its style and its business operations.
Despite differences of director, genre or studio, most Hollywood films operate within a set of shared assumptions about how a film should look and sound. Such assumptions are neither natural nor inevitable; but because classical-style films have been the type most widely seen, they have come to be accepted as the ‘norm’ of film-making and viewing.
The authors show how these classical conventions were formulated and standardized, and how they responded to the arrival of sound, colour, widescreen ratios and stereophonic sound. They argue that each new technological development has served a function within an existing narrational system.
The authors also examine how the Hollywood cinema standardized the film-making process itself. They describe how, over the course of its history, Hollywood developed distinct modes of production in a constant search for maximum efficiency, predictability and novelty.
Set apart by its combination of theoretical analysis and empirical evidence, this book is the standard work on the classical Hollywood cinema style of film-making from the silent era to the 1960s. Now available in paperback, it is a ‘must’ for film students, lecturers and all those seriously interested in the development of the film industry.

Poetics of Cinema By David Bordwell

Bringing together twenty-five years of work on what he has called the “historical poetics of cinema,” David Bordwell presents an extended analysis of a key question for film studies: how are films made, in particular historical contexts, in order to achieve certain effects? For Bordwell, films are made things, existing within historical contexts, and aim to create determinate effects. Beginning with this central thesis, Bordwell works out a full understanding of how films channel and recast cultural influences for their cinematic purposes. With more than five hundred film stills, Poetics of Cinema is a must-have for any student of cinema.

Ingmar Bergman: The Life and Films of the Last Great European Director By Geoffrey Macnab

Ingmar Bergman was the last and arguably the greatest of the old-style European auteurs and his influence across all areas of contemporary cinema has continued to be considerable since his death in July 2007. Drawing on interviews with collaborators and original research, this book puts Bergman’s career into the context of his life and offers a new and revealing portrait of this great filmmaker.
Geoffrey Macnab explores the often painfully autobiographical nature of his work, while also looking in detail at Bergman as a craftsman. He considers Bergman’s working relationship with his actors (especially the actresses he helped make into international stars), his passion for theatre, literature and classical music and his obsession with death and cruelty. The book traces his traumatic childhood, asking how his experiences growing up as the son of a strict Lutheran pastor fed into his later writing and filmmaking. It also looks at his political life, chronicling his teenage flirtation with Nazi-sm, his bitter spat in the mid-70s with the Swedish authorities over his tax affairs and his often vexed relationship with his fellow Swedes. Geoffrey Macnab also considers how Bergman’s work was financed and distributed, his relationship with US agents and how close he came to working in Hollywood.

James Ball , Robbie Carman, Matt Gottshalk, Richard Harrington, “From Still to Motion: A photographer’s guide to creating video with your DSLR”

Book and accompanying DVD with over six hours of video training—all geared to teach you everything about shooting video with your DSLR
With the arrival of high-definition video-enabled DSLR cameras, photographers are faced with an opportunity for creativity and a competitive edge in their field unlike anything they’ve experienced before. Add to that the expanding demands from a video-hungry audience and it’s no longer a matter of if you are going to add video to your repertoire of skills, it’s when.

Paul Grainge, Mark Jancovich, “Film Histories: An Introduction and Reader”

Arranged chronologically, Film Histories is a wide-ranging anthology that covers the history of film from 1885 to the present. Each chapter contains an introduction by the editors on key developments within the respective period, followed by a classic piece of historical research about that period. Various approaches to film history are taken by the authors of the articles, exposing readers to different forms of historical research. Topics include: the history of audiences, exhibition, marketing, censorship, aesthetic history, political history, and historical reception studies.

Film Histories concentrates on the so-called historical turn in film studies, demonstrating that film history is about more than simply key films, directors, and movements. Also included is a preface explaining the structure and organization of the book. The contents are divided into sections on American and non-American research, thus designed to reach a wide student audience at the undergraduate level. Chapter introductions provide an overview of international developments in film.

Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age: At the American Film Institute By George Stevens Jr.

The first book to bring together these interviews of master moviemakers from the American Film Institute’s renowned seminars—a series that has been in existence for almost forty years, since the founding of the Institute itself.

Here are the legendary directors, producers, cinematographers and writers—the great pioneers, the great artists—whose work led the way in the early days of moviemaking and still survives from what was the twentieth century’s art form. The book is edited—with commentaries—by George Stevens, Jr., founder of the American Film Institute and the AFI Center for Advanced Film Studies’ Harold Lloyd Master Seminar series.

Here talking about their work, their art—picture making in general—are directors from King Vidor, Howard Hawks and Fritz Lang (“I learned only from bad films”) to William Wyler, George Stevens and David Lean.

Here, too, is Hal Wallis, one of Hollywood’s great motion picture producers; legendary cinematographers Stanley Cortez, who shot, among other pictures, The Magnificent Ambersons, Since You Went Away and Shock Corridor and George Folsey, who was the cameraman on more than 150 pictures, from Animal Crackers and Marie Antoinette to Meet Me in St. Louis and Adam’s Rib; and the equally celebrated James Wong Howe.

Here is the screenwriter Ray Bradbury, who wrote the script for John Huston’s Moby Dick, Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man, and the admired Ernest Lehman, who wrote the screenplays for Sabrina, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and North by Northwest (“One day Hitchcock said, ‘I’ve always wanted to do a chase across the face of Mount Rushmore.’”).

And here, too, are Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini (“Making a movie is a mathematical operation. It’s absolutely impossible to improvise”).

These conversations gathered together—and published for the first time—are full of wisdom, movie history and ideas about picture making, about working with actors, about how to tell a story in words and movement.

A sample of what the moviemakers have to teach us:

  • Elia Kazan, on translating a play to the screen: “With A Streetcar Named Desire we worked hard to open it up and then went back to the play because we’d lost all the compression. In the play, these people were trapped in a room with each other. As the story progressed I took out little flats, and the set got smaller and smaller.”
  • Ingmar Bergman on writing: “For half a year I had a picture inside my head of three women walking around in a red room with white clothes. I couldn’t understand why these damned women were there. I tried to throw it away . . . find out what they said to each other because they whispered. It came out that they were watching another woman dying. Then the screenplay started—but it took about a year. The script always starts with a picture . . . ”
  • Jean Renoir on actors: “The truth is, if you discourage an actor you may never find him again. An actor is an animal, extremely fragile. You get a little expression, it is not exactly what you wanted, but it’s alive. It’s something human.”
  • And Hitchcock—on Hitchcock: “Give [the audience] pleasure, the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”

The Voice in Cinema By Michel Chion

How can a voice whose source is never seen—such as Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey or the mother of Norman Bates in Psycho—have such a powerful hold on an audience? When does “synchronized sound” fail to link bodies to their voices, and how do such great stylists of sound film as Jacques Tati, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Marguerite Duras deploy the power of the voice?
In this brilliant essay, Michel Chion, internationally cited authority on the history and poetics of film sound, examines the human voice in cinema. The Voice in Cinema begins with the phenomenon of film’s hidden, faceless voices and their magical powers, particularly in the context of Lang’s Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Chion then explores subjective voices, bonding and entrapment by telephone, voice-thieves, screams (male and female), siren calls, and the silence of mute characters-all uniquely cinematic deployments. In conclusion, Chion considers “the monstrous marriage of the filmed voice and body” as embodied in Norman Bates. Claudia Gorbman’s fluent translation retains Chion’s sophisticated and accessible style, introducing readers to a distinct and paradigm-changing voice on film.