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How to Read a Film: Movies, Media, and Beyond Kindle Edition

22 customer reviews

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Kindle, April 10, 2009

Length: 736 pages

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"Anyone who writes about film, or who is interested in film seriously, just has to have it."--Richard Roud, Director of the New York Film Festival

About the Author

James Monaco is a writer, publisher, and producer. His books include American Film Now, The New Wave, The Encyclopedia of Film, and The Connoisseur's Guide to the Movies. He lives and works in the New York City area.

Product Details

  • File Size: 8827 KB
  • Print Length: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 4th edition (April 10, 2009)
  • Publication Date: April 10, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003PGRM1Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,318 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

James Monaco is an author and publisher with expertise in electronic publishing, film, and the media industries. He is currently head of Harbor Electronic Publishing, which he founded in 1994, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Copyright Clearance Center.

Monaco is the author of a number of books on the film industry and the media, including The Dictionary of New Media (HEP 2000), The Connoisseur's Guide to the Movies (Facts on File 1985); American Film Now (Oxford University Press 1979, 1984); and the best-selling How to Read a Film (Oxford University Press 1977, 1981, 2000, 2009). Translations of various titles have appeared in German, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Czech, Greek, Polish, Indonesian, and Farsi. He has also edited a number of basic references, including Who's Who in American Film Now (New York Zoetrope 1981, 1987),The Movie Guide (Putnam, Virgin 1992, 1993); and The Encyclopedia of Film (Putnam, Virgin 1991).

Monaco's journalism and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, American Film, The Christian Science Monitor, and many other publications. In the 1970s, he was a contributing editor of [More] and Cineaste and associate editor of Take One. As a media commentator for National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" in the early 1980s, Monaco's analysis reached more than 250 affiliate stations. His television credits include appearances on all the major American networks, ABC (Sydney), BBC (London), NHK (Tokyo), CBC (Montreal), WDR (Frankfurt) and more than a hundred local stations around the country.

How To Read a Film: multimedia edition, a DVD-ROM, appeared in 2000 in conjunction with the third edition of the book--completely revised and expanded. The disc won the DVD-ROM Excellence Award of the DVD Association in 2001 and has been adopted by scores of university film courses.

Monaco is also active as a book publisher via Harbor Electronic Publishing. Recent HEP titles include Salt of the Earth: The Story of a Film, Jack Newfield's The Life and Crimes of Don King: The Shame of Boxing in America, and Doug Pratt's DVD. HEP also produces a list of titles devoted to the East End of Long Island, including nature guides and local history.

In the early 1980s he founded Baseline and its subsidiary, New York Zoetrope. With Baseline, Leonard Maltin, Pauline Kael, and others, Monaco contributed information for Microsoft's best-selling multimedia CD Cinemania. A landmark in multimedia productions, Cinemania sold more than 2.8 million copies in the mid-1990s.

Baseline, which Monaco founded in 1982, provides advanced information services for the entertainment industry worldwide. Its subsidiary, New York Zoetrope, was a specialty book-publishing company founded in 1975 which concentrated on titles in film and entertainment. Zoetrope's publications included more than 40 reference and specialized titles including The Laser Video Disc Companion, The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows, and Who's Who in American Film Now. In 1999 Baseline was acquired by In 2006 it became a unit of the New York Times Company.

Monaco has spoken often to industry forums in the U.S. and Europe. Engagements have included Yale's Watson School of Management, the Information Industry Association's Senior Management Symposium, the International Conference and Exposition on Multimedia and CD-ROM, Digital Video/Multimedia Expo, and Digital Hollywood.

A former member of the faculty of The New School for Social Research in New York, Monaco also taught at Columbia University, The City University of New York, New York University, and elsewhere. He has lectured to a wide variety of professional, academic, and general audiences. Monaco has degrees from Muhlenberg College and Columbia University.

Monaco is a long-time member of the Author's Guild and was a founder of the American Book Producers Association. He is a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, London. He has served on the Boards of Directors of Carron Trading Corp. and Galloway Internet Ltd. He was also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Program for Art on Film, Inc. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Interactive Services Association and was Chairman of the Videotext Marketing Consortium.

Born and raised in New York City, Monaco currently lives and works in Manhattan and Sag Harbor with his wife, Susan Schenker, an educator. They are the parents of three adult children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Caponsacchi HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
While not as concentrated, pragmatic, or reader-friendly as the title might suggest, Monaco's book is still the best comprehensive one-volume introduction to the aesthetics, politics, economics, theory, phenomenology, and industry of film. It's best seen as complementary to more basic introductory texts and detailed histories. Readers with a theoretical bent are most likely to appreciate its unique strengths.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Vinay Varma on September 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is the most lucid textbook on film theory. While there are many other written textbooks on film theory, I have found the few other textbooks that I encountered either full of trivia or too watered down or almost like commentaries rather than text books.

This book examines cinema from the technical, evolutionary and cultural perspectives and also gives the most lucid exposition of the work of various film theorists like Metz, Mitry, Eisentein, Kracauer, Wollen and others.

Particularly relevant are the explanations of differences between montage and mise en scene approaches, types of montage and grand syntagmas of cinema (cinematic grammars).

It also sounds and reads like a deft synthesis of all that can be said about cinema rather than as a loosely strung collection of information that students might seek.

It also contains one of the most comprehensive and relevant bibliographies on film theory.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Opinioned Not Opinionated on September 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Monaco's How To Read A Film is a triumph in bringing together a very wide range of theoretical, social, aesthetic, political, economic, historical, and technical information and ideas about film. In the newer editions, he has also addressed the broader range of media in general. It has been considered the "bible" by many on film history and theory for three decades. As a young film student 25 years ago, this was a required text for me then and still is today in many important schools. I learned so much from it then, and amazingly, continue to take away insights which inform my own film-making even today.

Some of the comments from other reviewers here are a bit baffling, to be frank. I don't find his writing style to be irritating at all; just the opposite! I feel that one of Monaco's real strengths is his style; he deals with what could easily be rather dry material in a way that has me unable to turn the pages fast enough! He always keeps the subject very interesting and is quite economical and free of excesses and digressions in his delivery. If anything, I found myself wanting to know more at times. One reviewer states that Monaco lacks organization and drifts randomly between topics. He cannot be serious (??). Whatever you might come up with to be critical about, I don't think that anyone could possibly make that case. On the contrary, given the utterly ambitious amount of material that he is dealing with, I truly applaud him for the organizational skill and deft handling of the presentation of such a massive amount of information! I think that he brings it all together extremely well with three indexes and a remarkable bibliography to support a highly accessible and coherent structure of chapters.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mad Dog on January 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Monaco's "How To Read A Film" is an excellent introduction to film theory and it's concepts.
While we have all aquired a certain level of "cinematic language" (you can't help it, it's part of watching movies), Monaco provides a Dictonary and Thesaurus for those of us who want a deeper understanding of the film "experience" and the language to descibe it with.
Don't be daunted by the above paragraph, either -- Monoco is a good enough writer that it's much easier to read the book than to read *about* the book. Also an excellent companion piece to Cook's "History Of Narrative Film".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Kollars on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I tried to sign up for a community college "Intro to Film" course, I found that rather than being ubiquitous as I had assumed, such courses are frequently impossible to find these days. So I went looking for a book instead. My stumbling on "How To Read A Film" was a fortunate accident, it was just what I was seeking (and it didn't cost an arm and a leg).

The book ranges very widely to cover a lot of different angles you might not expect to find between a single pair of covers: film technology, related media technologies, artistic history, commercial history, analysis, theory, relation to literary techniques, and the place of film within the arts. I realized only later that the relatively breezy style covers a whole lot of depth. I was painlessly introduced to quite a bit of fairly arcane terminology: things like "mise en scene" of course, but did you know where the term "pull-down" in your DVD creator program came from?

(The author has made substantial revisions in new editions in order to keep this book current, even to the point of replacing whole chapters. If possible, it's worth getting a current edition; otherwise some topics may seem notably dated. Some editions also come with a DVD; if you want a DVD so the examples aren't just stills, you will have less choice of editions, and may not be able to choose the most current one. My comments refer to the Fourth Edition. )
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The Thirtieth Anniversary Edition
I'm considering buying How To Read A Film. In what ways will the 30th anniversary edition differ from the previous (2000) edition?
Jul 24, 2007 by Marc Sommer |  See all 3 posts
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