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Cinema Books

Cinema Books

Written by the organisers of Lebowski Fest, I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski is the ultimate guide to this cult film. The book features a foreword and behind-the-scenes photos by Jeff Bridges, who plays the film's main character of 'The Dude'. It includes interviews with virtually every actor from the film including John Goodman, Julianne Moore, and John Turturro. Within the pages of this book you'll also find out how to order a White Russian like an Achiever and read interviews with the real-life eccentrics who inspired the film's main characters. Jeff Dowd (The Dude) and John Milius (Walter) tell their stories and describe how they influenced the film.

This title is intended for undergraduates and lecturers in American Studies, History, Politics, and Film, Media and Communication Studies.It illuminates the intriguing collaboration between Hollywood and the US Government in the production of propaganda.American filmmakers are deeply involved in the War on Terror. This authoritative and timely book offers the first comprehensive account of Hollywood's propaganda role during the defining ideological conflict of the twentieth century: the Cold War. In an analysis of films dating from America's first Red Scare in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Tony Shaw examines the complex relationship between filmmakers, censors, politicians and government propagandists.Drawing on declassified government documents, studio archives and filmmakers' private papers, Shaw reveals the different ways in which cinematic propaganda was produced, disseminated, and received by audiences during the Cold War. In the process, he blends subjects as diverse as women's fashions, McCarthyism, drug smuggling, Christianity, and American cultural diplomacy in India. His conclusions about Hollywood's versatility and power have a contemporary resonance which will interest anyone wishing to understand wartime propaganda today.This title is the first comprehensive account of Hollywood's role during the Cold War. It is a new interrogation of the collaboration between filmmakers and government in the production of propaganda. The use of primary documentation and new archival research make this book unique.


Chromatic Cinema : A History of Screen Color

“Chromatic Cinema provides a much-needed technological history of machines and techniques for producing moving images in color, as well as a cultural history of color films.” (BRIAN R. JACOBSON, Technology and Culture, July 2012)

“An invigorating critical intervention into the history, theory and aesthetic analysis of colour in the cinema.” (JENNIFER M. BARKER, Screen, August 2012)

“Chromatic Cinema provides a wealth of information and of examples of different approaches to colour in cinema and stimulates enough thoughts and reflections to be a worthy addition to any library on colour in cinema.” (NICOLA MAZZANTI, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, April 2012

"Chromatic Cinema is an excellent critical history of screen colour by Richard Misek, who teaches at the University of Bristol, near which, as I recall, is a plaque to mark the birthplace of William Friese-Greene, the somewhat unfortunate British movie pioneer, one of who patents was for his own colour system." (Times Literary Supplement, 25 November 2011)

"The book touches on most of the important aspects of color cinema-from history to technology to ideology-and serves as an orientation course for a complex subject. It's a gateway read, neither intimidating nor frustrating. For a beginner (like me), it presented a smattering of philosophical ideas, a grounding in the why and how progression of color use, and a primer on the science of color technologies." (MUBI, September 2010)


Contents

Precursors Edit

In the 1830s, three different solutions for moving images were invented on the concept of revolving drums and disks, the stroboscope by Simon von Stampfer in Austria, the phenakistoscope by Joseph Plateau in Belgium, and the zoetrope by William Horner in Britain.

In 1845, Francis Ronalds invented the first successful camera able to make continuous recordings of the varying indications of meteorological and geomagnetic instruments over time. The cameras were supplied to numerous observatories around the world and some remained in use until well into the 20th century. [2] [3] [4]

William Lincoln patented a device, in 1867, that showed animated pictures called the "wheel of life" or "zoopraxiscope". In it, moving drawings or photographs were watched through a slit.

On 19 June 1878, Eadweard Muybridge successfully photographed a horse named "Sallie Gardner" in fast motion using a series of 24 stereoscopic cameras. The cameras were arranged along a track parallel to the horse's, and each camera shutter was controlled by a trip wire triggered by the horse's hooves. They were 21 inches apart to cover the 20 feet taken by the horse stride, taking pictures at one-thousandth of a second. [5] At the end of the decade, Muybridge had adapted sequences of his photographs to a zoopraxiscope for short, primitive projected "movies," which were sensations on his lecture tours by 1879 or 1880.

Four years later, in 1882, French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey invented a chronophotographic gun, which was capable of taking 12 consecutive frames a second, recording all the frames of the same picture.

The late nineteenth to the early twentieth century brought rise to the use of film not only for entertainment purposes but for scientific exploration as well. French biologist and filmmaker Jean Painleve lobbied heavily for the use of film in the scientific field, as the new medium was more efficient in capturing and documenting the behavior, movement, and environment of microorganisms, cells, and bacteria, than the naked eye. [6] The introduction of film into scientific fields allowed for not only the viewing "new images and objects, such as cells and natural objects, but also the viewing of them in real time", [6] whereas prior to the invention of moving pictures, scientists and doctors alike had to rely on hand-drawn sketches of human anatomy and its microorganisms. This posed a great inconvenience in the science and medical worlds. The development of film and increased usage of cameras allowed doctors and scientists to grasp a better understanding and knowledge of their projects. [ citation needed ]

Film cinematography Edit

The experimental film Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed by Louis Le Prince on October 14, 1888 in Roundhay, Leeds, England, is the earliest surviving motion picture. [7] This movie was shot on paper film. [8]

An experimental film camera was developed by British inventor William Friese Greene and patented in 1889. [9] W. K. L. Dickson, working under the direction of Thomas Alva Edison, was the first to design a successful apparatus, the Kinetograph, [10] patented in 1891. [11] This camera took a series of instantaneous photographs on standard Eastman Kodak photographic emulsion coated onto a transparent celluloid strip 35 mm wide. The results of this work were first shown in public in 1893, using the viewing apparatus also designed by Dickson, the Kinetoscope. Contained within a large box, only one person at a time looking into it through a peephole could view the movie.

In the following year, Charles Francis Jenkins and his projector, the Phantoscope, [12] made a successful audience viewing while Louis and Auguste Lumière perfected the Cinématographe, an apparatus that took, printed, and projected film, in Paris in December 1895. [13] The Lumière brothers were the first to present projected, moving, photographic, pictures to a paying audience of more than one person.

In 1896, movie theaters were open in France (Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Nice, Marseille) Italy (Rome, Milan, Naples, Genoa, Venice, Bologna, Forlì) Brussels and London. The chronological improvements in the medium may be listed concisely. In 1896, Edison showed his improved Vitascope projector, the first commercially successful projector in the U.S. Cooper Hewitt invented mercury lamps which made it practical to shoot films indoors without sunlight in 1905. The first animated cartoon was produced in 1906. Credits began to appear at the beginning of motion pictures in 1911. The Bell and Howell 2709 movie camera invented in 1915 allowed directors to make close-ups without physically moving the camera. By the late 1920s, most of the movies produced were sound films. Wide screen formats were first experimented with in the 1950s. By the 1970s, most movies were color films. IMAX and other 70mm formats gained popularity. Wide distribution of films became commonplace, setting the ground for "blockbusters." Film cinematography dominated the motion picture industry from its inception until the 2010s when digital cinematography became dominant. Film cinematography is still used by some directors, especially in specific applications or out of fondness of the format. [ citation needed ]

Black and white Edit

From its birth in the 1880s, movies were predominantly monochrome. Contrary to popular belief, monochrome does not always mean black and white it means a movie shot in a single tone or color. Since the cost of tinted film bases was substantially higher, most movies were produced in black and white monochrome. Even with the advent of early color experiments, the greater expense of color meant films were mostly made in black and white until the 1950s, when cheaper color processes were introduced, and in some years the percentage of films shot on color film surpassed 51%. By the 1960s, color became by far the dominant film stock. In the coming decades, the usage of color film greatly increased while monochrome films became scarce.

Color Edit

After the advent of motion pictures, a tremendous amount of energy was invested in the production of photography in natural color. [14] The invention of the talking picture further increased the demand for the use of color photography. However, in comparison to other technological advances of the time, the arrival of color photography was a relatively slow process. [15]

Early movies were not actually color movies since they were shot monochrome and hand-colored or machine-colored afterwards. (Such movies are referred to as colored and not color.) The earliest such example is the hand-tinted Annabelle Serpentine Dance in 1895 by Edison Manufacturing Company. Machine-based tinting later became popular. Tinting continued until the advent of natural color cinematography in the 1910s. Many black and white movies have been colorized recently using digital tinting. This includes footage shot from both world wars, sporting events and political propaganda. [ citation needed ]

In 1902, Edward Raymond Turner produced the first films with a natural color process rather than using colorization techniques. [16] In 1908, kinemacolor was introduced. In the same year, the short film A Visit to the Seaside became the first natural color movie to be publicly presented. [ citation needed ]

In 1917, the earliest version of Technicolor was introduced. Kodachrome was introduced in 1935. Eastmancolor was introduced in 1950 and became the color standard for the rest of the century. [ citation needed ]

In the 2010s, color films were largely superseded by color digital cinematography. [ citation needed ]

Digital cinematography Edit

In digital cinematography, the movie is shot on digital media such as flash storage, as well as distributed through a digital medium such as a hard drive.

The basis for digital cameras are metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) image sensors. [17] The first practical semiconductor image sensor was the charge-coupled device (CCD), [18] based on MOS capacitor technology. [17] Following the commercialization of CCD sensors during the late 1970s to early 1980s, the entertainment industry slowly began transitioning to digital imaging and digital video over the next two decades. [19] The CCD was followed by the CMOS active-pixel sensor (CMOS sensor), [20] developed in the 1990s. [21] [22]

Beginning in the late 1980s, Sony began marketing the concept of "electronic cinematography," utilizing its analog Sony HDVS professional video cameras. The effort met with very little success. However, this led to one of the earliest digitally shot feature movies, Julia and Julia (1987). [ citation needed ] In 1998, with the introduction of HDCAM recorders and 1920×1080 pixel digital professional video cameras based on CCD technology, the idea, now re-branded as "digital cinematography," began to gain traction. [ citation needed ]

Shot and released in 1998, The Last Broadcast is believed by some to be the first feature-length video shot and edited entirely on consumer-level digital equipment. [23] In May 1999, George Lucas challenged the supremacy of the movie-making medium of film for the first time by including footage filmed with high-definition digital cameras in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. In late 2013, Paramount became the first major studio to distribute movies to theaters in digital format, eliminating 35mm film entirely. Since then the demand of movies to be developed onto digital format rather than 35mm has increased significantly. [ citation needed ]

As digital technology improved, movie studios began increasingly shifting towards digital cinematography. Since the 2010s, digital cinematography has become the dominant form of cinematography after largely superseding film cinematography. [ citation needed ]

Numerous aspects contribute to the art of cinematography, including:

Cinema technique Edit

The first film cameras were fastened directly to the head of a tripod or other support, with only the crudest kind of leveling devices provided, in the manner of the still-camera tripod heads of the period. The earliest film cameras were thus effectively fixed during the shot, and hence the first camera movements were the result of mounting a camera on a moving vehicle. The first known of these was a film shot by a Lumière cameraman from the back platform of a train leaving Jerusalem in 1896, and by 1898, there were a number of films shot from moving trains. Although listed under the general heading of "panoramas" in the sales catalogues of the time, those films shot straight forward from in front of a railway engine were usually specifically referred to as "phantom rides."

In 1897, Robert W. Paul had the first real rotating camera head made to put on a tripod, so that he could follow the passing processions of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in one uninterrupted shot. This device had the camera mounted on a vertical axis that could be rotated by a worm gear driven by turning a crank handle, and Paul put it on general sale the next year. Shots taken using such a "panning" head were also referred to as "panoramas" in the film catalogues of the first decade of the cinema. This eventually led to the creation of a panoramic photo as well.

The standard pattern for early film studios was provided by the studio which Georges Méliès had built in 1897. This had a glass roof and three glass walls constructed after the model of large studios for still photography, and it was fitted with thin cotton cloths that could be stretched below the roof to diffuse the direct ray of the sun on sunny days. The soft overall light without real shadows that this arrangement produced, and which also exists naturally on lightly overcast days, was to become the basis for film lighting in film studios for the next decade.

Image sensor and film stock Edit

Cinematography can begin with digital image sensor or rolls of film. Advancements in film emulsion and grain structure provided a wide range of available film stocks. The selection of a film stock is one of the first decisions made in preparing a typical film production.

Aside from the film gauge selection – 8 mm (amateur), 16 mm (semi-professional), 35 mm (professional) and 65 mm (epic photography, rarely used except in special event venues) – the cinematographer has a selection of stocks in reversal (which, when developed, create a positive image) and negative formats along with a wide range of film speeds (varying sensitivity to light) from ISO 50 (slow, least sensitive to light) to 800 (very fast, extremely sensitive to light) and differing response to color (low saturation, high saturation) and contrast (varying levels between pure black (no exposure) and pure white (complete overexposure). Advancements and adjustments to nearly all gauges of film create the "super" formats wherein the area of the film used to capture a single frame of an image is expanded, although the physical gauge of the film remains the same. Super 8 mm, Super 16 mm, and Super 35 mm all utilize more of the overall film area for the image than their "regular" non-super counterparts. The larger the film gauge, the higher the overall image resolution clarity and technical quality. The techniques used by the film laboratory to process the film stock can also offer a considerable variance in the image produced. By controlling the temperature and varying the duration in which the film is soaked in the development chemicals, and by skipping certain chemical processes (or partially skipping all of them), cinematographers can achieve very different looks from a single film stock in the laboratory. Some techniques that can be used are push processing, bleach bypass, and cross processing.

Most of modern cinema uses digital cinematography and has no film stocks [ citation needed ] , but the cameras themselves can be adjusted in ways that go far beyond the abilities of one particular film stock. They can provide varying degrees of color sensitivity, image contrast, light sensitivity and so on. One camera can achieve all the various looks of different emulsions. Digital image adjustments such as ISO and contrast are executed by estimating the same adjustments that would take place if actual film were in use, and are thus vulnerable to the camera's sensor designers perceptions of various film stocks and image adjustment parameters.

Filters Edit

Filters, such as diffusion filters or color effect filters, are also widely used to enhance mood or dramatic effects. Most photographic filters are made up of two pieces of optical glass glued together with some form of image or light manipulation material between the glass. In the case of color filters, there is often a translucent color medium pressed between two planes of optical glass. Color filters work by blocking out certain color wavelengths of light from reaching the film. With color film, this works very intuitively wherein a blue filter will cut down on the passage of red, orange, and yellow light and create a blue tint on the film. In black-and-white photography, color filters are used somewhat counter-intuitively for instance, a yellow filter, which cuts down on blue wavelengths of light, can be used to darken a daylight sky (by eliminating blue light from hitting the film, thus greatly underexposing the mostly blue sky) while not biasing most human flesh tone. Filters can be used in front of the lens or, in some cases, behind the lens for different effects.

Certain cinematographers, such as Christopher Doyle, are well known for their innovative use of filters Doyle was a pioneer for increased usage of filters in movies and is highly respected throughout the cinema world.

Lens Edit

Lenses can be attached to the camera to give a certain look, feel, or effect by focus, color, etc. As does the human eye, the camera creates perspective and spatial relations with the rest of the world. However, unlike one's eye, a cinematographer can select different lenses for different purposes. Variation in focal length is one of the chief benefits. The focal length of the lens determines the angle of view and, therefore, the field of view. Cinematographers can choose from a range of wide-angle lenses, "normal" lenses and long focus lenses, as well as macro lenses and other special effect lens systems such as borescope lenses. Wide-angle lenses have short focal lengths and make spatial distances more obvious. A person in the distance is shown as much smaller while someone in the front will loom large. On the other hand, long focus lenses reduce such exaggerations, depicting far-off objects as seemingly close together and flattening perspective. The differences between the perspective rendering is actually not due to the focal length by itself, but by the distance between the subjects and the camera. Therefore, the use of different focal lengths in combination with different camera to subject distances creates these different rendering. Changing the focal length only while keeping the same camera position doesn't affect perspective but the camera angle of view only.

A zoom lens allows a camera operator to change his focal length within a shot or quickly between setups for shots. As prime lenses offer greater optical quality and are "faster" (larger aperture openings, usable in less light) than zoom lenses, they are often employed in professional cinematography over zoom lenses. Certain scenes or even types of filmmaking, however, may require the use of zooms for speed or ease of use, as well as shots involving a zoom move.

As in other photography, the control of the exposed image is done in the lens with the control of the diaphragm aperture. For proper selection, the cinematographer needs that all lenses be engraved with T-stop, not f-stop so that the eventual light loss due to the glass doesn't affect the exposure control when setting it using the usual meters. The choice of the aperture also affects image quality (aberrations) and depth of field.

Depth of field and focus Edit

Focal length and diaphragm aperture affect the depth of field of a scene – that is, how much the background, mid-ground and foreground will be rendered in "acceptable focus" (only one exact plane of the image is in precise focus) on the film or video target. Depth of field (not to be confused with depth of focus) is determined by the aperture size and the focal distance. A large or deep depth of field is generated with a very small iris aperture and focusing on a point in the distance, whereas a shallow depth of field will be achieved with a large (open) iris aperture and focusing closer to the lens. Depth of field is also governed by the format size. If one considers the field of view and angle of view, the smaller the image is, the shorter the focal length should be, as to keep the same field of view. Then, the smaller the image is, the more depth of field is obtained, for the same field of view. Therefore, 70mm has less depth of field than 35mm for a given field of view, 16mm more than 35mm, and early video cameras, as well as most modern consumer level video cameras, even more depth of field than 16mm.

In Citizen Kane (1941), cinematographer Gregg Toland and director Orson Welles used tighter apertures to create every detail of the foreground and background of the sets in sharp focus. This practice is known as deep focus. Deep focus became a popular cinematographic device from the 1940s onwards in Hollywood. Today, the trend is for more shallow focus. To change the plane of focus from one object or character to another within a shot is commonly known as a rack focus.

Early in the transition to digital cinematography, the inability of digital video cameras to easily achieve shallow depth of field, due to their small image sensors, was initially an issue of frustration for film makers trying to emulate the look of 35mm film. Optical adapters were devised which accomplished this by mounting a larger format lens which projected its image, at the size of the larger format, on a ground glass screen preserving the depth of field. The adapter and lens then mounted on the small format video camera which in turn focused on the ground glass screen.

Digital SLR still cameras have sensor sizes similar to that of the 35mm film frame, and thus are able to produce images with similar depth of field. The advent of video functions in these cameras sparked a revolution in digital cinematography, with more and more film makers adopting still cameras for the purpose because of the film-like qualities of their images. More recently, more and more dedicated video cameras are being equipped with larger sensors capable of 35mm film-like depth of field.

Aspect ratio and framing Edit

The aspect ratio of an image is the ratio of its width to its height. This can be expressed either as a ratio of 2 integers, such as 4:3, or in a decimal format, such as 1.33:1 or simply 1.33. Different ratios provide different aesthetic effects. Standards for aspect ratio have varied significantly over time.

During the silent era, aspect ratios varied widely, from square 1:1, all the way up to the extreme widescreen 4:1 Polyvision. However, from the 1910s, silent motion pictures generally settled on the ratio of 4:3 (1.33). The introduction of sound-on-film briefly narrowed the aspect ratio, to allow room for a sound stripe. In 1932, a new standard was introduced, the Academy ratio of 1.37, by means of thickening the frame line.

For years, mainstream cinematographers were limited to using the Academy ratio, but in the 1950s, thanks to the popularity of Cinerama, widescreen ratios were introduced in an effort to pull audiences back into the theater and away from their home television sets. These new widescreen formats provided cinematographers a wider frame within which to compose their images.

Many different proprietary photographic systems were invented and used in the 1950s to create widescreen movies, but one dominated film: the anamorphic process, which optically squeezes the image to photograph twice the horizontal area to the same size vertical as standard "spherical" lenses. The first commonly used anamorphic format was CinemaScope, which used a 2.35 aspect ratio, although it was originally 2.55. CinemaScope was used from 1953 to 1967, but due to technical flaws in the design and its ownership by Fox, several third-party companies, led by Panavision's technical improvements in the 1950s, dominated the anamorphic cine lens market. Changes to SMPTE projection standards altered the projected ratio from 2.35 to 2.39 in 1970, although this did not change anything regarding the photographic anamorphic standards all changes in respect to the aspect ratio of anamorphic 35 mm photography are specific to camera or projector gate sizes, not the optical system. After the "widescreen wars" of the 1950s, the motion-picture industry settled into 1.85 as a standard for theatrical projection in the United States and the United Kingdom. This is a cropped version of 1.37. Europe and Asia opted for 1.66 at first, although 1.85 has largely permeated these markets in recent decades. Certain "epic" or adventure movies utilized the anamorphic 2.39 (often incorrectly denoted '2.40')

In the 1990s, with the advent of high-definition video, television engineers created the 1.78 (16:9) ratio as a mathematical compromise between the theatrical standard of 1.85 and television's 1.33, as it was not practical to produce a traditional CRT television tube with a width of 1.85. Until that change, nothing had ever been originated in 1.78. Today, this is a standard for high-definition video and for widescreen television.

Lighting Edit

Light is necessary to create an image exposure on a frame of film or on a digital target (CCD, etc.). The art of lighting for cinematography goes far beyond basic exposure, however, into the essence of visual storytelling. Lighting contributes considerably to the emotional response an audience has watching a motion picture. The increased usage of filters can greatly impact the final image and affect the lighting.

Camera movement Edit

Cinematography can not only depict a moving subject but can use a camera, which represents the audience's viewpoint or perspective, that moves during the course of filming. This movement plays a considerable role in the emotional language of film images and the audience's emotional reaction to the action. Techniques range from the most basic movements of panning (horizontal shift in viewpoint from a fixed position like turning your head side-to-side) and tilting (vertical shift in viewpoint from a fixed position like tipping your head back to look at the sky or down to look at the ground) to dollying (placing the camera on a moving platform to move it closer or farther from the subject), tracking (placing the camera on a moving platform to move it to the left or right), craning (moving the camera in a vertical position being able to lift it off the ground as well as swing it side-to-side from a fixed base position), and combinations of the above. Early cinematographers often faced problems that were not common to other graphic artists because of the element of motion. [24]

Cameras have been mounted to nearly every imaginable form of transportation. Most cameras can also be handheld, that is held in the hands of the camera operator who moves from one position to another while filming the action. Personal stabilizing platforms came into being in the late 1970s through the invention of Garrett Brown, which became known as the Steadicam. The Steadicam is a body harness and stabilization arm that connects to the camera, supporting the camera while isolating it from the operator's body movements. After the Steadicam patent expired in the early 1990s, many other companies began manufacturing their concept of the personal camera stabilizer. This invention is much more common throughout the cinematic world today. From feature-length films to the evening news, more and more networks have begun to use a personal camera stabilizer.

The first special effects in the cinema were created while the film was being shot. These came to be known as "in-camera" effects. Later, optical and digital effects were developed so that editors and visual effects artists could more tightly control the process by manipulating the film in post-production.

The 1896 movie The Execution of Mary Stuart shows an actor dressed as the queen placing her head on the execution block in front of a small group of bystanders in Elizabethan dress. The executioner brings his axe down, and the queen's severed head drops onto the ground. This trick was worked by stopping the camera and replacing the actor with a dummy, then restarting the camera before the axe falls. The two pieces of film were then trimmed and cemented together so that the action appeared continuous when the film was shown, thus creating an overall illusion and successfully laying the foundation for special effects.

This film was among those exported to Europe with the first Kinetoscope machines in 1895 and was seen by Georges Méliès, who was putting on magic shows in his Théâtre Robert-Houdin in Paris at the time. He took up filmmaking in 1896, and after making imitations of other films from Edison, Lumière, and Robert Paul, he made Escamotage d'un dame chez Robert-Houdin (The Vanishing Lady). This film shows a woman being made to vanish by using the same stop motion technique as the earlier Edison film. After this, Georges Méliès made many single shot films using this trick over the next couple of years.

Double exposure Edit

The other basic technique for trick cinematography involves double exposure of the film in the camera, which was first done by George Albert Smith in July 1898 in the UK. Smith's The Corsican Brothers (1898) was described in the catalogue of the Warwick Trading Company, which took up the distribution of Smith's films in 1900, thus:

"One of the twin brothers returns home from shooting in the Corsican mountains, and is visited by the ghost of the other twin. By extremely careful photography the ghost appears *quite transparent*. After indicating that he has been killed by a sword-thrust, and appealing for vengeance, he disappears. A 'vision' then appears showing the fatal duel in the snow. To the Corsican's amazement, the duel and death of his brother are vividly depicted in the vision, and overcome by his feelings, he falls to the floor just as his mother enters the room."

The ghost effect was done by draping the set in black velvet after the main action had been shot, and then re-exposing the negative with the actor playing the ghost going through the actions at the appropriate part. Likewise, the vision, which appeared within a circular vignette or matte, was similarly superimposed over a black area in the backdrop to the scene, rather than over a part of the set with detail in it, so that nothing appeared through the image, which seemed quite solid. Smith used this technique again in Santa Claus (1898).

Georges Méliès first used superimposition on a dark background in La Caverne maudite (The Cave of the Demons) made a couple of months later in 1898, and elaborated it with many superimpositions in the one shot in Un Homme de têtes (The Four Troublesome Heads). He created further variations in subsequent films.

Frame rate selection Edit

Motion picture images are presented to an audience at a constant speed. In the theater it is 24 frames per second, in NTSC (US) Television it is 30 frames per second (29.97 to be exact), in PAL (Europe) television it is 25 frames per second. This speed of presentation does not vary.

However, by varying the speed at which the image is captured, various effects can be created knowing that the faster or slower recorded image will be played at a constant speed. Giving the cinematographer even more freedom for creativity and expression to be made.

For instance, time-lapse photography is created by exposing an image at an extremely slow rate. If a cinematographer sets a camera to expose one frame every minute for four hours, and then that footage is projected at 24 frames per second, a four-hour event will take 10 seconds to present, and one can present the events of a whole day (24 hours) in just one minute.

The inverse of this, if an image is captured at speeds above that at which they will be presented, the effect is to greatly slow down (slow motion) the image. If a cinematographer shoots a person diving into a pool at 96 frames per second, and that image is played back at 24 frames per second, the presentation will take 4 times as long as the actual event. Extreme slow motion, capturing many thousands of frames per second can present things normally invisible to the human eye, such as bullets in flight and shockwaves travelling through media, a potentially powerful cinematographical technique.

In motion pictures, the manipulation of time and space is a considerable contributing factor to the narrative storytelling tools. Film editing plays a much stronger role in this manipulation, but frame rate selection in the photography of the original action is also a contributing factor to altering time. For example, Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times was shot at "silent speed" (18 fps) but projected at "sound speed" (24 fps), which makes the slapstick action appear even more frenetic.

Speed ramping, or simply "ramping", is a process whereby the capture frame rate of the camera changes over time. For example, if in the course of 10 seconds of capture, the capture frame rate is adjusted from 60 frames per second to 24 frames per second, when played back at the standard movie rate of 24 frames per second, a unique time-manipulation effect is achieved. For example, someone pushing a door open and walking out into the street would appear to start off in slow-motion, but in a few seconds later within the same shot, the person would appear to walk in "realtime" (normal speed). The opposite speed-ramping is done in The Matrix when Neo re-enters the Matrix for the first time to see the Oracle. As he comes out of the warehouse "load-point", the camera zooms into Neo at normal speed but as it gets closer to Neo's face, time seems to slow down, foreshadowing the manipulation of time itself within the Matrix later in the movie.

Other special techniques Edit

G. A. Smith initiated the technique of reverse motion and also improved the quality of self-motivating images. This he did by repeating the action a second time while filming it with an inverted camera and then joining the tail of the second negative to that of the first. The first films using this were Tipsy, Topsy, Turvy and The Awkward Sign Painter, the latter which showed a sign painter lettering a sign, and then the painting on the sign vanishing under the painter's brush. The earliest surviving example of this technique is Smith's The House That Jack Built, made before September 1901. Here, a small boy is shown knocking down a castle just constructed by a little girl out of children's building blocks. A title then appears, saying "Reversed", and the action is repeated in reverse so that the castle re-erects itself under his blows.

Cecil Hepworth improved upon this technique by printing the negative of the forwards motion backwards frame by frame, so that in the production of the print the original action was exactly reversed. Hepworth made The Bathers in 1900, in which bathers who have undressed and jumped into the water appear to spring backwards out of it, and have their clothes magically fly back onto their bodies.

The use of different camera speeds also appeared around 1900. Robert Paul's On a Runaway Motor Car through Piccadilly Circus (1899), had the camera turn so slowly that when the film was projected at the usual 16 frames per second, the scenery appeared to be passing at great speed. Cecil Hepworth used the opposite effect in The Indian Chief and the Seidlitz powder (1901), in which a naïve Red Indian eats a lot of the fizzy stomach medicine, causing his stomach to expand and then he then leaps around balloon-like. This was done by cranking the camera faster than the normal 16 frames per second giving the first "slow motion" effect.

In descending order of seniority, the following staff is involved:

  • Director of photography, also called cinematographer
  • Camera operator, also called cameraman
  • First assistant camera, also called focus puller
  • Second assistant camera, also called clapper loader

In the film industry, the cinematographer is responsible for the technical aspects of the images (lighting, lens choices, composition, exposure, filtration, film selection), but works closely with the director to ensure that the artistic aesthetics are supporting the director's vision of the story being told. The cinematographers are the heads of the camera, grip and lighting crew on a set, and for this reason, they are often called directors of photography or DPs. The American Society of Cinematographers defines cinematography as a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than the simple recording of a physical event. Cinematography is not a subcategory of photography. Rather, photography is but one craft that the cinematographer uses in addition to other physical, organizational, managerial, interpretive. and image-manipulating techniques to effect one coherent process. [25] In British tradition, if the DOP actually operates the camera him/herself they are called the cinematographer. On smaller productions, it is common for one person to perform all these functions alone. The career progression usually involves climbing up the ladder from seconding, firsting, eventually to operating the camera.

Directors of photography make many creative and interpretive decisions during the course of their work, from pre-production to post-production, all of which affect the overall feel and look of the motion picture. Many of these decisions are similar to what a photographer needs to note when taking a picture: the cinematographer controls the film choice itself (from a range of available stocks with varying sensitivities to light and color), the selection of lens focal lengths, aperture exposure and focus. Cinematography, however, has a temporal aspect (see persistence of vision), unlike still photography, which is purely a single still image. It is also bulkier and more strenuous to deal with movie cameras, and it involves a more complex array of choices. As such a cinematographer often needs to work cooperatively with more people than does a photographer, who could frequently function as a single person. As a result, the cinematographer's job also includes personnel management and logistical organization. Given the in-depth knowledge, a cinematographer requires not only of his or her own craft but also that of other personnel, formal tuition in analogue or digital filmmaking can be advantageous. [26]


Will movie theatres be consigned to the history books?

V Venkateswara Rao

Cineworld, the world’s second-biggest cinema chain, will close its UK and US movie theatres this week, leaving as many as 45,000 workers unemployed, as it fights a coronavirus-related collapse in film releases and cinema-going. The company said the reluctance of studios to go ahead with major releases such as the new James Bond film had left it no choice but to close all its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from October 8. “From a liquidity point of view, we were bleeding much bigger amounts when we are open than when we were closed,” Cineworld Chief Executive Mooky Greidinger said.

The other major multiplex chain in America, AMC Theatres, has not announced plans to close, although S&P Global last week warned that AMC risks running out of liquidity within six months, “unless it is able to raise additional capital, which we view as unlikely, or attendance levels materially improve,” The Hollywood Reporter said.

Cinema theatres reopened in parts of India from October 15 under “Unlock 5.0”, after seven months of shutdown. Nearly 10,000 theatres in India closed in mid-March when the government imposed restrictions to fight the virus. The Central government has allowed cinemas to reopen with 50 percent capacity uniformly across all states, irrespective of the varying level of infections in different states. By comparison, the US state of California has a four-tier system that dictates capacity. If a county has 4 to 7 daily new cases per 1,00,000 population, cinemas can open with 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. In comparison, among the Indian states reopening cinemas, Delhi leads the way with 17 daily new cases per 1,00,000 population.

The safety protocols to be followed by theatres are based on five tenets: face masks, zero contact, physical distancing, temperature checks, and relentless sanitisation.

However, authorities in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, have put off reopening cinemas for the time being. The western state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, is the worst-hit state in India, with more nearly 37% of the country’s COVID-19 fatalities.

Cinemas are reopening by re-releasing films that are eight months to a-year-and-a-half-old. Older films like ‘Tanhaji’, a historical epic about a Hindu warrior who rises against the Mughals, ‘Thappad’, a social drama on domestic violence, and ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’, a romantic comedy featuring a gay couple, were played across multiple screens. Producers aren't sure that people will feel comfortable to step out and head into a cinema, and that's why Bollywood films continue to head to streaming.

Amazon Prime Video has unveiled nine Indian films — to be released October through December — that were originally headed to theatres. These include the Varun Dhawan, Sara Ali Khan-starrer Hindi-language comedy ‘Coolie No. 1’ and the Rajkummar Rao, Nushrratt Bharuccha-led Hindi-language black comedy ‘Chhalaang’. Every year, the $ 2.8 billion Indian film industry produces more than 2,000 films in Hindi and various regional languages.

This could very easily turn into a vicious cycle for cinema theatres, where the lack of new buzzy films and lack of audiences feed into each other. On October 15, however, movie theatres struggled to lure the public back when they reopened. Many theatres ran shows for small audiences. In the capital city of New Delhi, one cinema theatre has reportedly attracted just a little more than two dozen people for its late afternoon show. Most of the moviegoers were guards and the housekeeping staff of the shopping mall that houses the theatre.

Movie theatres pose some of the biggest infection risks since they put people in a closed space for an extended period of time, where the virus can spread easily. Medical professionals consider “going to a movie theatre” among the highest of risks, alongside gyms, buffets, and theme parks. With India’s virus cases surging nearing the eight million mark, the threat of infection remains strong.

So, what is the future of the theatre industry, and can it survive the pandemic? That’s uncertain. Cinema theatres right now are facing an "existential crisis”. It would appear that the moviegoers will be comfortable once again going to the movies, only after the pandemic is over or at least once an effective vaccine has been administered to much of the population. No one knows for sure how long a wait we’re looking at for that to happen. As per latest reports, vaccine distribution may happen only after a year's time. Till such time, do the cinema theatres have enough cash to survive?

(V Venkateswara Rao is an alumnus of IIM, Ahmedabad and a retired corporate professional.)


BISEXUAL

A History of Bisexuality by Steven Angelides

&ldquoWhy is bisexuality the object of such skepticism? Why do sexologists steer clear of it in their research? Why has bisexuality, in stark contrast to homosexuality, only recently emerged as a nascent political and cultural identity? Bisexuality has been rendered as mostly irrelevant to the history, theory, and politics of sexuality. With A History of Bisexuality, Steven Angelides explores the reasons why, and invites us to rethink our preconceptions about sexual identity. Retracing the evolution of sexology, and revisiting modern epistemological categories of sexuality in psychoanalysis, gay liberation, social constructionism, queer theory, biology, and human genetics, Angelides argues that bisexuality has historically functioned as the structural other to sexual identity itself, undermining assumptions about heterosexuality and homosexuality. In a book that will become the center of debate about the nature of sexuality for years to come, A History of Bisexuality compels us to rethink contemporary discourses of sexual theory and politics.&rdquo

Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life by Marjorie Garber

&ldquoIn this witty, learned, and scrupulously researched book, the author examines bisexuality and its many modes through a variety of critical lenses: cultural, literary, and psychological. Bisexuality is a monumental inquiry into what &lsquonormal&rsquo might mean, and just how difficult it is to make claims about sexuality, someone else&rsquos or one&rsquos own.&rdquo

Bisexuality in the Ancient World by Eva Cantarella

&ldquoIn this readable and thought-provoking history of bisexuality in the classical age, Eva Cantarella draws on the full range of sources―from legal texts, inscriptions, and medical documents to poetry and philosophical literature―to reconstruct and compare the bisexual cultures of Athens and Rome.&rdquo


Cinema Books - History

inema&aposs 100 years seem to have the shape of a life cycle: an inevitable birth, the steady accumulation of glories and the onset in the last decade of an ignominious, irreversible decline. It&aposs not that you can&apost look forward anymore to new films that you can admire. But such films not only have to be exceptions -- that&aposs true of great achievements in any art. They have to be actual violations of the norms and practices that now govern movie making everywhere in the capitalist and would-be capitalist world -- which is to say, everywhere. And ordinary films, films made purely for entertainment (that is, commercial) purposes, are astonishingly witless the vast majority fail resoundingly to appeal to their cynically targeted audiences. While the point of a great film is now, more than ever, to be a one-of-a-kind achievement, the commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative film-making, a brazen combinatory or recombinatory art, in the hope of reproducing past successes. Cinema, once heralded as the art of the 20th century, seems now, as the century closes numerically, to be a decadent art.

Perhaps it is not cinema that has ended but only cinephilia -- the name of the very specific kind of love that cinema inspired. Each art breeds its fanatics. The love that cinema inspired, however, was special. It was born of the conviction that cinema was an art unlike any other: quintessentially modern distinctively accessible poetic and mysterious and erotic and moral -- all at the same time. Cinema had apostles. (It was like religion.) Cinema was a crusade. For cinephiles, the movies encapsulated everything. Cinema was both the book of art and the book of life.

As many people have noted, the start of movie making a hundred years ago was, conveniently, a double start. In roughly the year 1895, two kinds of films were made, two modes of what cinema could be seemed to emerge: cinema as the transcription of real unstaged life (the Lumiere brothers) and cinema as invention, artifice, illusion, fantasy (Melies). But this is not a true opposition. The whole point is that, for those first audiences, the very transcription of the most banal reality -- the Lumiere brothers filming "The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station" -- was a fantastic experience. Cinema began in wonder, the wonder that reality can be transcribed with such immediacy. All of cinema is an attempt to perpetuate and to reinvent that sense of wonder.

Everything in cinema begins with that moment, 100 years ago, when the train pulled into the station. People took movies into themselves, just as the public cried out with excitement, actually ducked, as the train seemed to move toward them. Until the advent of television emptied the movie theaters, it was from a weekly visit to the cinema that you learned (or tried to learn) how to walk, to smoke, to kiss, to fight, to grieve. Movies gave you tips about how to be attractive. Example: It looks good to wear a raincoat even when it isn&apost raining. But whatever you took home was only a part of the larger experience of submerging yourself in lives that were not yours. The desire to lose yourself in other people&aposs lives . . . faces. This is a larger, more inclusive form of desire embodied in the movie experience. Even more than what you appropriated for yourself was the experience of surrender to, of being transported by, what was on the screen. You wanted to be kidnapped by the movie -- and to be kidnapped was to be overwhelmed by the physical presence of the image. The experience of "going to the movies" was part of it. To see a great film only on television isn&apost to have really seen that film. It&aposs not only a question of the dimensions of the image: the disparity between a larger-than-you image in the theater and the little image on the box at home. The conditions of paying attention in a domestic space are radically disrespectful of film. Now that a film no longer has a standard size, home screens can be as big as living room or bedroom walls. But you are still in a living room or a bedroom. To be kidnapped, you have to be in a movie theater, seated in the dark among anonymous strangers.

No amount of mourning will revive the vanished rituals -- erotic, ruminative -- of the darkened theater. The reduction of cinema to assaultive images, and the unprincipled manipulation of images (faster and faster cutting) to make them more attention-grabbing, has produced a disincarnated, lightweight cinema that doesn&apost demand anyone&aposs full attention. Images now appear in any size and on a variety of surfaces: on a screen in a theater, on disco walls and on megascreens hanging above sports arenas. The sheer ubiquity of moving images has steadily undermined the standards people once had both for cinema as art and for cinema as popular entertainment.

In the first years there was, essentially, no difference between these two forms. And all films of the silent era -- from the masterpieces of Feuillade, D. W. Griffith, Dziga Vertov, Pabst, Murnau and King Vidor to the most formula-ridden melodramas and comedies -- are on a very high artistic level, compared with most of what was to follow. With the coming of sound, the image making lost much of its brilliance and poetry, and commercial standards tightened. This way of making movies -- the Hollywood system -- dominated film making for about 25 years (roughly from 1930 to 1955). The most original directors, like Erich von Stroheim and Orson Welles, were defeated by the system and eventually went into artistic exile in Europe -- where more or less the same quality-defeating system was now in place, with lower budgets only in France were a large number of superb films produced throughout this period. Then, in the mid-1950&aposs, vanguard ideas took hold again, rooted in the idea of cinema as a craft pioneered by the Italian films of the immediate postwar period. A dazzling number of original, passionate films of the highest seriousness got made.

It was at this specific moment in the 100-year history of cinema that going to movies, thinking about movies, talking about movies became a passion among university students and other young people. You fell in love not just with actors but with cinema itself. Cinephilia had first become visible in the 1950&aposs in France: its forum was the legendary film magazine Cahiers du Cinema (followed by similarly fervent magazines in Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, the United States and Canada). Its temples, as it spread throughout Europe and the Americas, were the many cinematheques and clubs specializing in films from the past and directors&apos retrospectives that sprang up. The 1960&aposs and early 1970&aposs was the feverish age of movie-going, with the full-time cinephile always hoping to find a seat as close as possible to the big screen, ideally the third row center. "One can&apost live without Rossellini," declares a character in Bertolucci&aposs "Before the Revolution" (1964) -- and means it.

For some 15 years there were new masterpieces every month. How far away that era seems now. To be sure, there was always a conflict between cinema as an industry and cinema as an art, cinema as routine and cinema as experiment. But the conflict was not such as to make impossible the making of wonderful films, sometimes within and sometimes outside of mainstream cinema. Now the balance has tipped decisively in favor of cinema as an industry. The great cinema of the 1960&aposs and 1970&aposs has been thoroughly repudiated. Already in the 1970&aposs Hollywood was plagiarizing and rendering banal the innovations in narrative method and in the editing of successful new European and ever-marginal independent American films. Then came the catastrophic rise in production costs in the 1980&aposs, which secured the worldwide reimposition of industry standards of making and distributing films on a far more coercive, this time truly global scale. Soaring producton costs meant that a film had to make a lot of money right away, in the first month of its release, if it was to be profitable at all -- a trend that favored the blockbuster over the low-budget film, although most blockbusters were flops and there were always a few "small" films that surprised everyone by their appeal. The theatrical release time of movies became shorter and shorter (like the shelf life of books in bookstores) many movies were designed to go directly into video. Movie theaters continued to close -- many towns no longer have even one -- as movies became, mainly, one of a variety of habit-forming home entertainments.

In this country, the lowering of expectations for quality and the inflation of expectations for profit have made it virtually impossible for artistically ambitious American directors, like Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Schrader, to work at their best level. Abroad, the result can be seen in the melancholy fate of some of the greatest directors of the last decades. What place is there today for a maverick like Hans- Jurgen Syberberg, who has stopped making films altogether, or for the great Godard, who now makes films about the history of film, on video? Consider some other cases. The internationalizing of financing and therefore of casts were disastrous for Andrei Tarkovsky in the last two films of his stupendous (and tragically abbreviated) career. And how will Aleksandr Sokurov find the money to go on making his sublime films, under the rude conditions of Russian capitalism?

Predictably, the love of cinema has waned. People still like going to the movies, and some people still care about and expect something special, necessary from a film. And wonderful films are still being made: Mike Leigh&aposs "Naked," Gianni Amelio&aposs "Lamerica," Fred Kelemen&aposs "Fate." But you hardly find anymore, at least among the young, the distinctive cinephilic love of movies that is not simply love of but a certain taste in films (grounded in a vast appetite for seeing and reseeing as much as possible of cinema&aposs glorious past). Cinephilia itself has come under attack, as something quaint, outmoded, snobbish. For cinephilia implies that films are unique, unrepeatable, magic experiences. Cinephilia tells us that the Hollywood remake of Godard&aposs "Breathless" cannot be as good as the original. Cinephilia has no role in the era of hyperindustrial films. For cinephilia cannot help, by the very range and eclecticism of its passions, from sponsoring the idea of the film as, first of all, a poetic object and cannot help from inciting those outside the movie industry, like painters and writers, to want to make films, too. It is precisely this notion that has been defeated.

If cinephilia is dead, then movies are dead too . . . no matter how many movies, even very good ones, go on being made. If cinema can be resurrected, it will only be through the birth of a new kind of cine-love.

Susan Sontag is the author, most recently, of "The Volcano Lover," a novel, and "Alice in Bed," a play.

Return to the Books Home Page


1920–1945

The early 1920s saw the rise of several new production companies and most films made during this era were either mythological or historical in nature. Imports from Hollywood, primarily action films, were well received by Indian audiences, and producers quickly began following suit. However, filmed versions of episodes from Indian classics and mythological literature, such as The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, still dominated throughout the decade.

1931 saw the release of Alam Ara, the first talkie, and the film that paved the way for the future of Indian cinema. The number of productions companies began to skyrocket, as did the number of films being produced each year—from 108 in 1927, to 328 in 1931. Color films soon began to appear, as did early efforts at animation. Giant movie palaces were built and there was a noticeable shift in audience makeup, namely in a significant growth in working-class attendees, who in the silent era accounted for only a small percentage of tickets sold. The WWII years saw a decrease in the number of films produced as a result of limited imports of film stock and government restrictions on the maximum allowed running time. Still, audiences remained faithful, and each year saw an impressive rise in ticket sales.


What Is Japanese Cinema?

What might Godzilla and Kurosawa have in common? What, if anything, links Ozu’s sparse portraits of domestic life and the colorful worlds of anime? In What Is Japanese Cinema? Yomota Inuhiko provides a concise and lively history of Japanese film that shows how cinema tells the story of Japan’s modern age.

Discussing popular works alongside auteurist masterpieces, Yomota considers films in light of both Japanese cultural particularities and cinema as a worldwide art form. He covers the history of Japanese film from the silent era to the rise of J-Horror in its historical, technological, and global contexts. Yomota shows how Japanese film has been shaped by traditonal art forms such as kabuki theater as well as foreign influences spanning Hollywood and Italian neorealism. Along the way, he considers the first golden age of Japanese film colonial filmmaking in Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan the impact of World War II and the U.S. occupation the Japanese film industry’s rise to international prominence during the 1950s and 1960s and the challenges and technological shifts of recent decades. Alongside a larger thematic discussion of what defines and characterizes Japanese film, Yomota provides insightful readings of canonical directors including Kurosawa, Ozu, Suzuki, and Miyazaki as well as genre movies, documentaries, indie film, and pornography. An incisive and opinionated history, What Is Japanese Cinema? is essential reading for admirers and students of Japan’s contributions to the world of film.


1 Comment

Hi, Amber!
I just read your “A Brief History of Mystery Books” and think it excellent: comprehensive and well-written without being pedantic or pretentious (would that the same could be said of all such writings!). Vintage mysteries represent my favorite genre, seconded by horror and, to a lesser extent, crime. I’ve collected since my preteen years the trouble is that I don’t specialize as do, it seems, most collectors. Rather I have amassed large quantities of magazines, books, radio programs, pre-Code comics, DVDs and 16mm film prints (some 500 of the latter, a few rare enough to have been borrowed for preservation projects by the George Eastman House and The UCLA Film & Television Archive). I’m a freelance writer while by no means prolific have sold to Citadel St. Martin’s McGraw-Hill. My nonfiction has appeared in “Views & Reviews”, “American Classic Screen” , and the liner notes for Radio Archives “Philo Vance” box sets (can be seen online by clicking on the depiction of the second set in the series). I’d much prefer to have my fiction see print, however. I’ve written 27 short stories which I’d like to have published as a collection, but literary agents nowadays are seemingly interested only in novels, this for commercial reasons. The late Chris Steinbrunner used to hand-deliver my stories to Eleanor Sullivan, Frederic Dannay’s (one-half of the “Ellery Queen” writing team) right arm at “Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine”), but these weren’t “right” for that publication. Ms. Sullivan wrote me that my Inquisition tale, for instance, was very well done but “a little too terrifying for our readers”! Of course nothing could be “too terrifying” in this age of graphic horrors, so I’m hoping I can eventually get these published if the novel I’m working on is successful. But whereas short fiction came to me with ease, I’ve found this longer form very demanding – I’d not attempt another! Chris, incidentally, had monthly columns in both EQMM and “The Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine” (the latter under a pseudonym). He was the New York V.P. for the Mystery Writers of America edited their journal, “The Third Degree” had numerous cinema books to his credit was the film programmer for WOR-TV, Channel 9 in New York City (the pioneers of pay-television) and won a prestigious MWA Edgar Allan Poe award for co-writing McGraw-Hill’s ” Encyclopedia of Mystery & Detection”. He was also a close friend whose life ended tragically.

In that novel of mine, I’m working in a history of mystery fiction, this in bracketed sections and only as I’m able to draw parallels to my own literary puzzle. My story unfolds in 1933, so at least I’m able to establish something of a perimeter – and foregoing being definitive, which would be out of the question. It’s the old business of the more one knows, the more one realizes he or she doesn’t know. And citing anything as “the first” can be quite a slippery slope. Poe’s 1841 “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, rather incredibly, established the format still used today but alas! there were stories of mystery that preceded it, albeit not defined in the manner just cited. William Godwin (father of Mary Godwin Shelley, of 1818’s “Frankenstein” fame), had his novel, “Caleb Williams”, published in 1794 – a work of suspenseful twists and turns still very readable today, as is Ann Radcliffe’s “The Mysteries of Udolpho”, which was issued that same year: considered primarily as a Gothic Romance, it represents perhaps the earliest example of seemingly uncanny situations being eventually explained (if at times somewhat problematically). The American writer, Charles Brockden Brown, likewise wrote very atmospheric and suspenseful fiction his “Weiland or The Transformation” (1798) attributes the would-be supernatural nightmares to a clever and vengeful ventriloquist, and appeared in a fragmentary sequel entitled “Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist”, published in “The Literary Magazine” in the early nineteenth century (Mary Shelley was an admirer of Brown’s). Other writers can be listed, such as A.T.A. Hoffmann, as contributing to what would crystallize with Poe in 1841.

But I guess I’ve rambled on more than enough, Amber. I’ll try to email you a few examples of my collecting although I’m by no means computer savvy. Note that I would’ve used italics for magazine and book names but I see no option for doing that here.


Word and image: my top 10 books on film

W e don't have to think about what we like, but thinking can be part of our pleasure, rather than opposed to it. When I was asked to write Film: A Very Short Introduction – the book became the 300th in a series that covers topics from advertising to witchcraft, anaesthesia to the World Trade Organisation – I jumped at the possibility, because I took it as a chance to think fast and hard about a much-loved topic. Not everybody thought this was a good idea. One of the publisher's readers said the project was distinctly amateurish, and the other said it was impossible. These responses were not unkindly meant, and I found them helpful. I realised I wanted the book to be the work of an amateur – a lover of film – though not amateurish in the sense of inept. And the genuine impossibility of the thing as a comprehensive enterprise made me think hard about what might be possible in smaller dimensions.

The book is an essay, not a history or a guidebook. It attempts to say something about what film has been and might be, when it was born and how it might die to tell some stories about varieties of film in different parts of the world and above all to convey a sense of wonder about what makes the films we care about exciting or surprising.

Pursuing this line of thought I got a bit carried away by the paradoxes of film: an illusion of movement that isn't an illusion but a picture of the real moving thing as it moves a series of still images that, projected at the right speed, produce this illusion that isn't an illusion. I know some people can't bear this low-grade philosophical talk about the languages and technology of vision, but I am still captivated by it.

I also found a way of thinking about film and photography together, as twins and opposites. Roland Barthes once said he had decided to prefer photography to cinema, and he was in good company, with Philippe Sollers, Brassaï and Proust, among others. The argument, broadly, is that photography resists time by stopping it, even at the cost of producing only reminders of death film, on the other hand, gives in to time, can't offer us anything other than what rolls past us in what Sollers calls "cinematic profusion" and Proust calls a "cinematic procession". This contrast seems hopelessly biased, especially to those of us who prefer cinema to photography, but it may all be a matter of our attitude to time. If we think it is to be lived with rather than fought against, almost everything turns round. And the fact that film is an awakening of still frames into undeniable movement suggests that if photography is about death, moving pictures are about rebirth or resurrection.

I regard my book as a very small contribution to a genre we might think of as the writing up of the surprises of film, and I'd like to suggest 10 books, very different from each other, that do this in a way I couldn't dream of doing. Two are by film directors, two are by film critics, one is by a film scholar, one is by a dance critic, one is by a philosopher, one is a novel, another is (though not a novel) by a novelist, and one is a memoir. All of them pursue the pleasure of thinking about pleasure. The order is chronological.

Prater Violet by Christopher Isherwood (1945)
This delicate, informed and ironic novel recounts the making of a frothy musical (set in Vienna) in the London studios of Imperial Bulldog Pictures. The unreality of the film set, "a half-world", Isherwood calls it, "a limbo of mirror-images", chimes eerily with the grim reality of European politics in the 30s.

What Is Cinema? by André Bazin (1962 translated by Hugh Gray 1967-1971 and by Timothy Barnard, 2009)
Bazin's question is not rhetorical, and his book is full of inventive and still influential answers. Never a purist about the medium, Bazin is always attentive to what the art can be he's especially interested in long takes and deep focus, which allow the viewer to make choices about what he or she wants to see.

I Lost It at the Movies by Pauline Kael (1965)
Surely the greatest of all regular film critics,Kael loved the movies with unflagging passion, and wrote especially well about the films that let her passion down. She was always funny. This is the first collection of her work, but there are many others, all wonderful.

The World Viewed by Stanley Cavell (1971)
Cavell is a philosopher who finds in a film a reflection of ongoing questions of scepticism about reality. Film is mesmerising because, among other reasons, it presents a world perfectly complete without us, converting us into ghosts as we watch it.

The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book by Arlene Croce (1972)
It's very hard to write about movement, and Croce manages the almost unheard-of feat of being faithful to the lightness of art, catching so much of what is remarkable about Astaire and Rogers's work.

Hollywood by Garson Kanin (1974)
Perhaps the funniest, most intelligent book about Hollywood. It contains the story of Sam Goldwyn overcoming his advisers' doubts about The Thomas Crown Affair. No one understood the complex plot, but Goldwyn was serene. "Stop worrying," he said. "The public is f'Chrissake smarter than we are!"

Notes on Cinematography by Robert Bresson (1975 translated by Jonathan Griffin 1977)
Uncanny epigrams from a master director. You don't have to believe what they say to enjoy their style and reach there are austere jewels on every page.

My Last Sigh by Luis Buñuel (1982 translated by Abigail Israel 1983)
An autobiography written with Buñuel's screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière. There is mischief everywhere from this staid man with a wild mind, who understood the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie from the inside.

The Wizard of Oz by Salman Rushdie (1992)
This is among Rushdie's best works of non-fiction. Full of great thoughts about colour and Kansas and fantasy, and how there really is no place like home, because no place is home.

Death 24x a Second by Laura Mulvey (2005)
A scholar well-known for her work on the gender of the gaze in cinema turns her attention to the old and new fact of stillness in the movies, "a projected film's best kept secret". A book that helps us to think and keeps us thinking.