Saturday, September 3, 2011

Telluride Film Festival #38 Review: The Story of Film

Before the first Cinephile viewing, we had the privilege of a little conversation with Gary Myer, Co Director of the festival with Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger. To read up on the history of the festival click here.

The film we saw was The Story of Film,  ...

directed and narrated by Mark Cousin. It is so new, I can not find a Internet Movie Data Base listing for it,just its Facebook page. The selection by Meyers and the other directors was a great way to start the weekend of movie watching. I will be mentioning it again in these posts.

It is actually a 15 part series documentary of the evolution of Cinema. We saw the first two parts yesterday. Mostly the film highlighted the coming together of inspirations- including Eastman's invention of film, Edison's invention of sound and the Lumiere brother's inventions in France, inspired by the component on the new mechanized sewing machines...
 that allowed the continuous feeding through of the film strip and walla you have Moving Picture!

After that there were many, many "ah haa" moments literally made by directors on set, such as the realization that unlike theater the camera could have a 360 degree view of the actors, that there could be wide and close up shots and editing could achieve both duel action in two different places such as watching fireman rush to a burning building and those trapped inside and it could create emotional tension as well.

One of the landmark film the documentary highlights is The Thief of Bagdad (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks, where the evolution of "story" is evident verses just watching interesting things happen.

 Although The Story of Film was interesting and it had many things to highlight, I have to the say it had a well, homemade quality to it that was distracting, especially since it was about highlighting Hollywood at it's best. The director Mark Cousins, who also narrates the film, gives the film an Art House feeling with slow pacing, often showing us close ups, after close up of rundown parts of Los Angeles and other important cities to cinema, that hold part of its history. Often himself cutting to a new view sooner or later than the narrative would dictate.  And frankly, the continuing close up and than slow motion shattering of a red Christmas ball hanging from a branch near the Hollywood sign held no connection with me and looked like something my teenage daughter might figure out to do, messing around with Adobe.

I much more enjoyed last years offering here at the Festival of Turner Classic Movies documentary, Moguls and Movie Stars...

which also showed the first two parts to its seven part series and gave a very concise overview of the history of Film, decade by decade. Highly recommend buying or renting the DVD to see the whole series.

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