Mandatory Readings 1.: Film Art – An Introduction (Chapter 3)

I’m not sure whether this is a purpose of this blog or not, but having these mandatory readings given to us is a really interesting experience to me. And yes, I will use the word experience a lot of time.

What is so interesting about it? Apart from the actual books it’s the fact that I just hate to read. I know it sounds really stupid; it sounds like I’m denying the cultural past of Mankind, but I have to be honest: I’ve never liked the “process of reading”, and I’m mainly talking about classical, fictional literature. I don’t know why, but I always felt it was tiring and I could never enjoy a book. Dear Teachers of Literature of Mine: I’m really sorry. I mean I love to read on the internet, like, articles about interesting things, science, nature, films, nearly everything, but books were always out of the question. I just can’t help it.

Or may I say: couldn’t help it? Because it turns out I may be not so hopeless after all. We’ve got a lot of books from certain modules as mandatory readings, and I’ve already finished two of them… and they were really, really great! I can honestly say I enjoyed them. I thought that I would discuss these books in these not-too-long-I-hope posts, because these are truly great works of literature.

The first book I’ve finished was the book mentioned in the title: Film Art – An Introduction written by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. We had to read the third chapter of this really long book, and that chapter was about Narrative. The narrative of films, to be precise.

Obviously it’s not a work of fictional literature, it’s a professional book about filmmaking. And even though we only had to read one chapter of it, I find the whole book utterly amazing. There are few words that can describe how awesome this book is. If you have a taste for films in detail and in a professional way, and you are even thinking about making films, then you should definitely read this book. I may not be right, but it looks like to me the Bible of filmmaking. And the best thing about this book is that it’s really modern. I mean of course, I’m sure they revisit it every once in a while, but I was really surprised to find articles about Harry Potter, Inception and Cloverfield in it. And they are talking about these modern movies to give certain examples, which is a really great thing. And they are sometimes mentioning really generic films, or maybe even films that some would consider bad ones, but this is what I liked most about this book: it’s not biased. Not biased towards film classics, so it gives a truly objective perspective regarding moviemaking. Whether you like mainstream Hollywood movies or European classics, this book is for you. It’s not stating opinions, it’s stating facts. And I love that kind of attitude.

The chapter itself (Narrative, as I’ve said before) is truly amazing itself. It’s about certain details of storytelling: plot, the story itself, the relation of the two, choices the screenwriter, the director and the editor has to make, etc. All this completed with thousands of examples in movies, quotes of famous filmmakers and a detailed analysis of the plot of Citizen Kane. And I’m using the word plot now intentionally, because thanks to the book I now know what the difference between story and plot is 😀 Just one thing: the book is kind of spoilery, so if you haven’t seen these classics (like Citizen Kane, or North by Northwest, just to pick two titles) before, you should. Otherwise the book will just spoil them to you.

But all in all, great book, and I’m looking forward to the other chapters. And one more thing I’d like to add: as a true fan of Christopher Nolan I was more than delighted to find an at least 6 pages long analysis of the movie The Prestige. It just blew my mind.

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