Movie Moments: Films That Changed the World of Cinema
Author: James Clarke
Reviewer: Charlene Lydon
James Clarke’s Movie Moments is part of the Kamera book series, which are helpful guides to random cinema-related phenomena, from Blaxploitation to Samurai films to individuals such as David Lynch, this series offers a simple, basic outline of the main element of note in the chosen topic. Movie Moments explores some of the important moments that have shaped film history. The book explores different movements from Soviet Montage to Surrealism and beyond. With an intelligent but very readable writing style, this is a quick, pleasurable read and not only explains the concepts very well but also points to plenty of good cinematic examples to encourage the reader to seek out for a more rounded understanding.
The book is divided into chapters (not necessarily chronological), each dealing with a particular filmmaking movement. The book keeps it simple but explains the roots of the movement, the people involved and the films that defined them, not only explaining the movement but giving historical context and social background. The chapters dealing with smaller movements such as Neo-realism or Surrealism are definitely more aptly covered than the bigger movements, such as Documentary which really is far too big a subject to be covered in one tiny chapter. However, the information contained is still valid and it gives a decent, if extremely broad, overview of the genre.
Towards the end of the book, each chapter is dedicated to a national cinema. Again it could be said that an entire national cinema cannot be categorised in such a way that you could give such a broad overview. Cleverly, the book chooses only a key moment from each country’s rich cinematic history and highlighting the films that provoked the movement.
The book takes a film (or more than one) in each chapter and goes through each one in terms of its concept, its success/failure at the time of release and why it was important at the time it was made. Clarke doesn’t always go for the most obvious choice, which is a good thing because it is more likely that the reader will make some new and interesting discoveries in the book. However it does list the most notable films in the movement and encourages reader to view them.
This is a good coffee table book for any film buff and particularly for film students. If you are looking to enhance your understanding of film history then it is basic enough to get you going. If you are a seasoned film scholar, it is intelligent enough to be a handy reference book for your shelf. You’re probably not going to read this cover to cover, but it is a good one to flick through every now and then.
release date: 18 January 2011
format: 194 x 135mm with flaps
images: 8pp Colour
BIC code: APF