Magazine article American Cinematographer

Burning Passions

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Burning Passions

Article excerpt

Burning Passions by Paolo Cherchi Usai British Film Institute and Indiana University Press, 128 pps., cloth $39.95, paper $19.95

Talk about a misleading title! No, this isn't a book you'd have to carry home in a plain wrapper; it is a scholarly and informative look at the silent movie from technical and artistic viewpoints. The subtitle is "An Introduction to the Study of Silent Cinema," but this, too, fails to convey what the book is about.

What it is not is the usual director-oriented study of individual productions. Much of it concentrates upon the very thing most silent film books do little more than touch upon: the physical characteristics of early movies. This includes the chemistry, formats, methods of coloring, special characteristics of the film stocks, projection equipment, projection speeds, live music and sound accompaniment, printing, etc.

Much of the text is devoted to discovery, preservation, identification and exhibition of silent films from both aesthetic and practical points of view. There is good information for the serious researcher on the etiquette of dealing with archives and the handling of rare archival materials. …

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