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The Story of Film - Mark Cousins (Preview)

Preview by Jack Foley

A MEDIUM for communication, a form of entertainment and an art form in its own right – the modern film is all of these.

There are so many different ways that film can be considered, more than just which celebrated actor is playing the lead or the total budget and box-office takings.

The Story of Film is being billed as the most accessible and compelling history of the medium yet published.

Film critic, producer and presenter, Mark Cousins shows how film-makers are influenced both by the historical events of their times, and by each other.

He demonstrates, for example, how Douglas Sirk’s Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s influenced Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s despairing visions of 1970s Germany; and how George Lucas’ Star Wars epics grew out of Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress.

The Story of Film is divided into three main epochs: Silent (1885–1928), Sound (1928–1990) and Digitial (1990-Present), and within this structure films are discussed within chapters reflecting both the stylistic concerns of the film-makers and the political and social themes of the time.

Film is an international medium, so as well as covering the great American films and film-makers, the book explores cinema in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and South America, and shows how cinematic ideas and techniques cross national boundaries.

Avoiding jargon and obscure critical theory, the author constantly places himself in the role of the moviegoer watching a film, and asks: ‘How does a scene or a story affect us, and why?’

In so doing, he gets to the heart of cinematic technique explaining how film-makers use lighting, framing, focal length and editing to create their effects. Clearly written, and illustrated with over 400 stills, including numerous sequences explaining how scenes work, The Story of Film is essential reading for both film students and the general moviegoer.

About the author

Mark Cousins has a first class degree in Film and Media Studies and Fine Art from the University of Stirling.

He has since lectured on film history, been published internationally and made documentary films on arts and political themes.

A former Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival, he now presents Scene-by-Scene on BBC television, conducting career interviews with actors and directors including Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Shohei Imamura, Jack Lemmon, Sean Connery, Tom Hanks, Dennis Hopper, Kirk Douglas, Rod Steiger, Jeanne Moreau, Lauren Bacall, the Coen Brothers, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Donald Sutherland, Ewan McGregor and Jayne Russell.

He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In anticipation of the book's release, on October 11, films fans are encouraged to take part in the following film quiz, simply by clicking on the blip below. Have fun!

Mark Cousins - Story Of Film!

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