(He says that for basically every movie he lists on his documentary.)
Thiz has to beeee quite possibly one of the beeeeeest fiiiiilmmmsss eeeeverrrrrr maaaaaaayyydeeee.
I didn't agree 100 percent with Cousins' commentary (Starship Troopers, really?!), but this is an incredible documentary I would recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the history of film worldwide. Being a pretty hardcore film nerd myself for the last 14 years or so, he didn't really mention anyone I hadn't heard of before, but the way he framed his "story of film" was compelling and flowed without a hitch.
In a whole 15 hours, there is maybe hour and a half of interesting material. Which makes this utter shit.
Every bit the equal to Ken Burn's lengthy documentaries Jazz, Baseball, and The War.
Chapter 15 2000 Onwards:Film Moves Full Circle and the Future of Movies Cousins' epic film comes to a close looking at the new innovators of the last decade including Ceylan, Puiu, Reygadas, Weerasethakul and Sokurov. In the end this film is required viewing for a film lover but rest assured what it skips over or ignores will drive you crazy as will some of the essay style narration.Nevertheless quite the achievement
Chapter 14 The 1990's The First Days of Digital Reality Losing its Realness in America and Australia Cousin's penultimate chapter is one of the series' most satisfying entries. His take on the changes digital had on both the industry and auteur is quite encompassing even though it sticks to two countries.The idea that digital has created a post-modern cinema is an interesting concept...that real is no longer enough.
Chapter 13 1990-1998: The Last Days of Celluloid (Before the Coming of Digital) As its title suggests this entry fixates on the move to handheld examing the Iranian movement, J-horror, Hong Kong art film, the Dogma movement and new French and Polish cinema of the period. Most interesting is the interviews with Claire Denis and Shinya Tsukamoto. Only issue is each section ignores so many other filmmakers.
Chapter 12 The 1980s Moviemaking and Protest Around the World This chapter excels in capturing the changes in filmmaking internationally in the 80's. It's focusing in on certain films works in the context set in this entry. Key works examined include 'The Horse Thief', 'Repentance', 'A Short Film About Killing', 'Blue Velvet','Distant Voices Still Lives', 'The Last of England', 'Videodrome' and 'Jesus of Montreal'.
Chapter 11 The 1970s and Onwards Innovation in Popular Culture and Around the World This chapter examines the shift to populist cinema during the late 70s into the 80's. By first examining Hong Kong, India and Egypt , Cousins makes his point that this shift wasn't just the creation of hollywood box office juggernauts but a global move. Directors include King Hu, Tsui Hark, Chahine, Friedkin, Spielberg and Lucas.
Chapter 10 1969-1979 Radical Directors in the 70s Make State of the Nation Movies: Cousins concentrates on the time periods international cinema with stops in Germany, Italy, Australia, Africa and Latin America. Again too much to cover in an hour but certainly some interesting takes on Sembene, Mamberty, Gerima and Jodorowsky. Does step well outside its time line in this chapter however.The love of cinema well felt.
Chapter 9 1967-1979 New American Cinema After an excellent chapter previous Cousins completely misses the mark here in trying to capture 70's American cinema by breaking it into three kinds of filmmakers. His thesis is weak and quickly falls apart. "A Decade Under the Influence' and 'Easy Riders Raging Bulls' a far superior in their coverage of the time period. Only spots on Burnett and Polanski shine here.
EPISODE 6: Focusing to a greater degree for the first time on non-western cinema, we learn about film across the globe. Egypt, India, China, Japan, and my beloved Mexico. However, for a series that prides itself in showcasing world cinema, there certainly isn't a lot of it. It says a lot about film scholars, when even those who are conscious of the limits in the academia fail to explore beyond the surface.
Taking Mexico as an example, the Mexican film industry had not been mentioned in spite of being one of the most successful industries in the 30s, 40s and 50s. While the rest of the western world was up to their knees in WWII, Mexico became the most important industry in Latin America. And it was not lacking in artistic and creative visions, seeing that Emilio Fernandez and Gabriel Figueroa were making masterpieces since the early 40s. So for Cousins to glide over this part of the history and focus on Mexico only when Buñuel started making films seems nothing more than an egregious faux pas.
Chapter 8 1965-1969 New Waves Sweep Around the World. Excellent episode that tracks international cinema during this time period starting in Eastern Europe with the work of Wajda, Polanski, Chytilova, Tarkovsky and Parajanov. Moving on to Japan, India, Iran, Senegal, the UK and finally America. Great clips from Sembene, Ghatak, Kalatozov and Jancso along the way in this tight and incisive entry to the series.
EPISODE 5: It tries to cover the years after the war, but I think that that era being one of the greatest in film history, that was too much to try to cover. It talks about film noir and neo realism, but not much else. For an era where so many films were made, it should have had more time to cover.
Episode 7 1957=1964 Shock of the New, Modern Filmmaking in Western Europe. Cousins examines the coming of the New Wave in the first half with a look at Bresson, Bergman, Tati and Fellini. Second half touches on Truffaut and Godard but spends more time on Italy with Pasolini, Leone and Visconti offering some good insight on their rebellion against the popular cinema of the time.
EPISODE 4: The introduction to sound, the genres that arose and European cinema in the 30s. When Cousins talks about the genres, he talks in length about gangster pictures, but seems to fly past everything else, especially screwball comedies and westerns. I felt like he could have spent more time on these, since there is so much to cover and they were so influential.
EPISODE 3: Focusing on the rule-breakers of world cinema, Cousins talks about directors that are already established in the canon. He talks about German, Soviet, Japanese, and Chinese filmmakers, but does not go beyond talking about them and mention the rest of those industries. It's informing, but it could have provided more information about other cinemas: Latin American or Indian, which by this time had industries
EPISODE 2: This focuses on the rise of Hollywood and its establishment as the leading film industry. It explores the rise of some directors whose success has made them part of the cannon. It's obvious that the "story of film" would focus on Hollywood, and it also focuses a bit on others, like Scandinavia, but I want to know more about other industries that I know will not be covered in upcoming episodes.
EPISODE 1: I have heard the history of film many times. You could say I know it all in general terms. This episode presents that same history, but it makes it interesting. It's a film, telling of the magic of film. I think it achieves its purpose and does so entertainingly. It piqued my interest and brought new examples to the table. It even made me excited and got my imagination and creativity rolling. 5/5.
Chapter 6 1953-1957 The Swollen Story World Cinema Bursting at the Seams.. This chapter captures the changing landscape of international films by focusing in on single directors in several countries. Through examination of Chahine, Bunuel, Ray, Kurosawa and then back to America for a look at the changing careers of master directors. The essay style begins to show its limits in this installment but wonderful clips.
Chapter 5 1939-1952 The Devastation of War and a New Movie Lanquage This chapter fails to live up to its title getting lost in anaylisis of technique and film noir and only skirting neo-realism and the true impact of the war on filmmaking. References the later McCarthy witchhunts and in the end the 13 years it tries to cover in one hour is just too ambitious. Good analysis of deep focus, closeup and other invention.
Chapter 4 The 1930's The Great American Movie Genres and the Brilliance of Europeon Film. This chapter starts with the emergence of genre filmmaking in America especially the gangster and western genres. It then moves to the burgeoning auteur cinema in Europe especially Renoir, Vigo, Riefensthal and a long look at the importance of Hitchcock. The chapter ends with a quick look at 1939 and the looming import of war.
Chapter 3 1918-1932 The Great Rebel Filmmakers Around the World This chapter looks at the masters who emerged internationally during the twenties and thirties focusing mostly on Gance, Lubitsch, Lang ,Murnau, Eisenstein and especially Ozu and Mizoguchi. Wealth of film clips tied into film history and its later influence.
Chapter 2 1918-1928 The triumph of american film and the first of its rebels. The epic continues with a look at both the populist and the innovation that sprung up in the 20's. Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd are examined , as is the advent of documentary film, Von Stronheim, King Vidor's 'The Crowd' and the work of Dreyer. Amazing clips with often clever commentary, analysis and context.
Chapter 1 1895-1918 The World Discovers a New Art Form. Cousins epic take on the history of film begins establishing links between the earliest expressions and experimentations with their prodigy to come. Refreshing in that it doesn't igore world cinema and seems to give fair coverage worldwide.Presented in a near essay style but with visual flair and an abundance of film clips; some of them quite rare. A good start.