Sunday, August 16, 2015

Understand Film Studies by Warren Buckland

Understand Film Studies by Warren Buckland, Hodder Education, 2010

A great little book as an intro to film studies - it provides a series of concepts to help filmgoers analyse artistic, technical and storytelling decisions.

It covers:

  1. Aesthetics; formalism and realism
  2. Structure: narrative and narration
  3. Authorship: the director as auteur
  4. Genres: defining the typical film
  5. Non-fiction: five types of documentary
  6. Reception: the art and profession of film reviewing

There are also some detailed analyses of specific techniques and scenes which are very instructive.  


Christian Metz: "The cinema is difficult to explain because it is easy to understand."

'Significant form' distinguishes good art from bad - where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Stefan Sharff: "Significant form is the opposite of pedestrian rendition... Images for together so magnificently that they ascend to a higher level of visual meaning."  (Elements of Cinema)

Debate: Should women specialise in making feminist films?  Kathryn Bigelow argues that the job of a director is genderless.

Five categories of documentary (according to Bill Nichols): 

  • expository
  • observational 
  • interactive
  • reflexive
  • performative

All in all a very good resource.  It helped give me the confidence to begin to critique films, something I would like to develop further.

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