The Art of the Film

The Art of the Film

The Art of the Film

The Art of the Film

Excerpt

The success of the first edition of this book has been most gratifying. Designed as a modest introduction to the principles of film technique, the steady sales of the first edition have necessitated reprinting, it has been translated into several foreign languages, and it appears to have become a standard text-book for organised film courses in America and elsewhere. Encouraged by this undiminished demand, the publishers asked me to 'bring it up to date' by the addition of new material for a second edition. A work of this kind, however, which is essentially a statement of fundamental principles, should not require to be brought up to date in the same way as a history which has fallen behind its time. If the principles were valid when first presented, they will continue so.

It remains as true as ever that any film which is more than a mechanical recording, whether of actuality or a theatrical presentation, depends on its use of editing, and it is still necessary to understand clearly what this means in terms of joining lengths of film together, or combining elements of sound in a re-recording, before one can extend the principle (as Eisenstein himself eventually did) to include the montage of elements within a single shot, or to see in montage the creative mechanism of all forms of art.

It might be thought that one could have added to such a book as this a good deal on the subject of television, which has spread so rapidly since the first edition appeared, but I have not felt strongly tempted to do so; first, because television considered as a subject in itself requires a full and independent treatment: and secondly, because television considered as an extension of the film has not yet, apart from differences of style imposed by its own technical characteristics, developed any new basic principles, and it is not easy to see how it could do so. Both film and television as art forms have it in common that they achieve their effects by a succession of moving images and of sounds, and there is no effect obtainable in television which cannot be obtained in the film, although the contrary is not always true, film is still the more comprehensive medium, and allows the producer more calculation and precision in obtaining his effects. Television will influence the film in greater or lesser degree, but it is too soon to assess what forms this influence will take; for the moment television is not so much a new and distinctive medium of artistic expression as a window on to the world, through which one may be shown a horse-race, a riot, a religious service, a juggling act, a theatre play, a ballet, a new cathedral, a concert pianist or--a film.

I have, however, taken this opportunity slightly to recast the form of the book, and to complete it (as it always seemed to me it needed . . .

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