Sergei M. Eisenstein – The psychology of composition (1988)

‘Watson and Scotland Yard always work along the line of direct
logic, Sherlock Holmes works not by logic, but by dialectics’. This
dialectics, in its turn, draws on ‘the whole fund of prelogical,
sensuous thought’ that ‘serves as a fund of the language of form’ that
Eisenstein defines as ‘readable expressiveness’. Eisenstein’s
elaborate study of a method of art rooted in ‘the twilight stage of
primitive thought’ moves from folk tales to Shakespeare, Balzac,
Gogol, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, and Mayakovsky, to come eventually to
the detective story, ‘the most effective genre of literature’ and ‘the
most naked expression of bourgeois society’s fundamental ideas on
property’, as it is told by Poe, Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, Ellery
Queen, and Hitchcock in Spellbound.
Writing while he was making Ivan, Eisenstein opens up, in his
characteristic manner, a whole area of thinking on ‘the psychology
of composition’. Published in English for the first time, these lectures
and lecture notes have been assembled and translated by Jay Leyda
and Alan Upchurch. Read More »

    Franz Kafka – The Castle (1926)

    The Castle is a philosophical novel by Franz Kafka. In it a protagonist, known only as K., strives to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle that governs the village where K. has arrived to work as a land surveyor. Dark and at times surreal, The Castle is about alienation, bureaucracy, and the seemingly endless frustrations of man’s attempts to stand against the system. Read More »

      James Hay – Popular Film Culture in Fascist Italy – The Passing of the Rex (1987)

      This is the first comprehensive examination in English of Italian cinema during the Fascist era. James Hay discusses the films of the 1920s and 1930s in terms of the popular culture and cultural policy of the times. The hundreds of films produced during this period have generally been discredited as propagandistic or as “white telephones” by both film and social historians. Hay, however, argues that this interpretation is much too simplistic. He demonstrates that this popular film culture was the result of a growing public “literacy” of film and of the interaction of cultural, social, and political transformations. This study uses popular cinematic narratives and images to discuss how Italians began to see themselves as a nation and as a cultura popolare.
      Popular Film Culture in Fascist Italy is profusely illustrated with photos from films such as Grandi magasini and Squadrone bianco as well as popular classics such as Amarcord Read More »

        Jim Hillier – Cahiers du Cinéma: The 1950s: Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave (1985)

        About the Book
        Cahiers du Cinema is the most prestigious and influential film journal ever published. An anthology devoted entirely to its writings, in English translation, is long overdue.
        The selections in this volume are drawn from the colorful first decade of Cahiers, 1951-1959, when a group of young iconoclasts racked the world of film criticism with their provocative views an international cinema–American, Italian, and French in particular. They challenged long-established Anglo-Saxon attitudes by championing American popular movies, addressing genres such as the Western and the thriller and the aesthetics of technological developments like CinemaScope, emphasizing mise en scéne as much as thematic content, and assessing the work of individual filmmakers such as Hawks, Hitchcock, and Nicholas Ray in terms of a new theory of the director as author, auteur, a revolutionary concept at the time. Italian film, especially the work of Rossellini, prompted sharp debates about realism that helped shift the focus of critical discussion from content toward style. The critiques of French cinema have special interest because many of the journal’s major contributors and theorists Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, Rivette, Chabrol were to become same of France’s most important film directors and leaders of the New Wave. Read More »

          Philippe Grandrieux – La Vie Nouvelle AKA A New Life (2002)

          About the Book
          In the turbulent sixties, the provocative French film journal Cahiers du Cinema was at its most influential and controversial. The first successes of the New Wave by major Cahiers contributors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Fran?ois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol focused international attention on the revitalization of French cinema and its relation to film criticism; and in the early 1960s the journal’s laudatory critiques of popular American movies were attaining the greatest notoriety.
          As the lively articles, interviews, and polemical discussions in this volume reveal, the 1960s saw the beginnings of significant new directions in filmmaking and film criticism changes in which the New Wave itself was a major factor. The auteur theory that the journal had championed in the 1950s began to be rethought and revalued. At the same time, along with a reassessment of American film, Cahiers began to embrace new, often oppositional forms of cinema and criticism, culminating in the political and aesthetic radicalism of the ensuing decade.
          The selections, translated under the supervision of the British Film Institute, are annotated by Hillier, and context is provided in his general introduction and part introductions. For an understanding of the important changes that took place in cinema and film criticism in the 1960s and beyond, this book is essential reading. Read More »

            André Bazin – What is Cinema? Vol 1 & 2 (1967 – 1971)

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            About the Books
            André Bazin’s What Is Cinema? (volumes I and II) have been classics of film studies for as long as they’ve been available and are considered the gold standard in the field of film criticism. Although Bazin made no films, his name has been one of the most important in French cinema since World War II. He was co-founder of the influential Cahiers du Cinéma, which under his leadership became one of the world’s most distinguished publications. Championing the films of Jean Renoir (who contributed a short foreword to Volume I), Orson Welles, and Roberto Rossellini, he became the protégé of François Truffaut, who honors him touchingly in his forword to Volume II. This new edition includes graceful forewords to each volume by Bazin scholar and biographer Dudley Andrew, who reconsiders Bazin and his place in contemporary film study. The essays themselves are erudite but always accessible, intellectual, and stimulating. As Renoir puts it, the essays of Bazin “will survive even if the cinema does not.” Read More »

              Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell – Film Art. An Introduction [6th Ed.] (2001)


              This sixth edition improves upon the fifth edition, primarily by updating many examples to reflect more recent films. Especially interesting is the array of color plates at the center of the book, which helps to make related examples even more vivid.
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