Icons of Film

Review by Jack Foley

THE sixth volume in Prestel's successful series focusing on the highlights of the 20th Century (which so far has covered art, architecture, photography, fashion and design), Icons of Film is an impressive and deeply informative look at some of the defining moments of cinema throughout the 20th Century.

Beginning with Charlie Chaplin's The Kid in 1920 and concluding with Sam Mendes' American Beauty in 1999, Icons of Film is packed with great photographs of some of the best film moments of the era, as well as an intriguing insight into the director's, stars and movies of the century.

A total of 84 movies have been selected for critical appraisal - some black and white, some foreign, and many Oscar winners - from established and award-winning masterpieces to smaller, lesser known pictures which have influenced cinema in their own small way.

Each double page comes complete with an informative commentary on the film's origins, its inception, awards and nominations it received as well as an outline of the story and its characters. And much of the fun lies in finding out what has and what hasn't been included.

Ben Hur, for example, is an obvious inclusion, while Spartacus is omitted. James Bond is catered for with Goldfinger, while other obvious inclusions are Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Sunset Boulevard, Singin' In The Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey and, of course, Apocalypse Now and The Silence of the Lambs.

What may come as a surprise, however, is that the likes of The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, any of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, or Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket are not present.

Quentin Tarantino is represented with Pulp Fiction (no Reservoir Dogs), while Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, the Star Wars trilogy and The Matrix ensure that science fiction gets a big look in.

Not everyone will agree with the collections contained within, but most movie fans will find it hard not to find something to like about this book - whether it's the pictures, or merely the films. It is a very worthwhile addition to any cinema library and makes for good reference material, as well as fun coffee table reading. It should provoke plenty of film discussions.