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March 2001, Week 2


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"Ames, Chris" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 12 Mar 2001 10:59:36 -0500
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I'd like to weigh in on the intro text discussion, since this is the first
year I've used Bordwell and Thompson's "Film Art," and my own reaction has
been mixed.  While I like the fact that it emphasizes formal analysis (which
works for a course like mine that is Intro to Film rather than History of
Film), I think that it is difficult text because the authors aren't very
good at separating the important from the minor.  For example, the chapter
on cinematography discusses film stock and aspect ratio in as much detail as
it discusses things such as shot scale (camera distance).  And Bordwell and
Thompson are so careful to note exceptions to generalizations  (even to the
point of discussing growing mold on film as a kind of cinematography) that
the useful generalizations often get buried.  I do think the text is a good
one, but it seems to bury crucial points in a welter of undifferentiated
detail--and this makes it harder than it needs to be for students.

For several years, I used Maltby's "Hollywood Cinema," though students found
it repetitive.  If your class focuses on American film and you're interested
in social and political analysis along with formal analysis, Maltby's book
is a good text.  He is a bit wordy and repetitive, and I switched because of
student grumbling.  In between I used Phillips's "Film: An Introduction,"
which was more popular with students but lacked some of the challenging
material that Bordwell and Maltby bring.

Chris Ames
Agnes Scott College

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