Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999

Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999

Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999

Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999

Synopsis

The essays in this insightful film-analysis text show cover twenty-one of the best European films made between the coming of World War II and the end of the twentieth century, showing what makes each of them outstanding. These essays are clear and readable--that is, sophisticated and meaty yet not overly technical or jargon-heavy. They will make perfect introductions to their respective films as well as important contributions to the field of film studies in general. Written with university students in mind, these essays cover some of the central films treated--and central issues raised--in today's cinema courses and provide students with practical models to help them improve their own writing and analytical skills. A list of questions for discussion is included, to trigger further thinking among film buffs and to help educators prepare for class.The book is aimed at students, teachers, and cinephiles with an interest in European cinema in particular and cinema studies in general, as well as at those educated readers with an interest in the practice of film analysis and criticism.The only competition comes from Stanley Kauffmann's relatively brief Ten Great Films (136 pp., 2012). the current work offers twenty-one illustrated essays (Kauffmann's book contains no images) and focuses on Europe. (The countries represented are France, Italy, England, Hungary, Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Denmark, Russia, Spain, Germany, Scotland, and Finland.) Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999 overlaps with Kauffmann's book only in the case of L'avventura, though the two approach this film from vastly different angles. Moreover, the book provides a complete critical apparatus--notes, bibliographies, credits, and filmographies, whereas Kauffmann's has none.This book could be one of the primary texts for courses in film analysis, to accompany a work like Timothy Corrigan's A Short Guide to Writing about Film (8th edition, 2011). It would also be a suitable supplementary or secondary text in such courses as 'Introduction to Film' or 'Film Appreciation'; 'Western European Cinema'; 'History of Film' or 'Global Cinema'; and 'Film Directors' or 'Film Style and Imagination.'

Excerpt

Film editing, or the instantaneous replacement of one moving visual field with another, was once not part of our daily experience. So nothing in 400 million years of vertebrate evolution prepared us for the visual assault of cinema. But amazingly enough, the process succeeded and we became accommodated to the idea of motion pictures. Even more, a mysterious extra meaning was gained from the juxtaposition of two images that was not present in either of the shots themselves. In short, we discovered that the human mind was predisposed to cinematic grammar as if it were an entirely natural, inborn language. Perhaps it is inborn, because we spend one third of our lives in the nightly world of dreams. There, images are fragmented and different realities collide abruptly with what seems to have great meaning. In this way we can see film editing as, probably unwittingly, employing the power and means of dream.

For many millions of years, then, human beings were apparently carrying within them the ability to respond to film and we could almost say they were unconsciously awaiting its arrival in order to employ their dream-faculty more fully. Some of us have long believed that, through more recent centuries, theater artists and audiences themselves had also been “longing for the film to be invented,” striving to achieve the effects that filmmaking has made possible, even without a clue that there could be such a medium. Many tricks of stagecraft in those centuries (particularly the nineteenth) were, without knowing it, early attempts at cross-cuts and superimpositions, or double exposures. Some dramatists even imagined their work in forms and perspectives that anticipated the birth of the cinema (most notably, and excitingly, Georg Büchner in Danton’s Death [1835]). In his essay “Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today,” Sergei Eisenstein shows how the novel itself—specifically, the novels of Charles Dickens—provided D.

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