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A Passion for Films : Henri Langlois & the Cinematheque Francaise Paperback – June 17, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In this most engaging biography Richard Roud draws an affectionate portrait of Henri Langlois, a co-founder and the director of the Cinémathèque Française, a film library and screening room in Paris, tracing from November 1914 when he was born in Turkey until his death in January 1977... Roud is extremely informative, telling the reader about the wide variety of activities accomplished by Langlois both in France and abroad... What gives the whole book balance and integrity is the fact that the author's focus remains on Langlois' activities as an archivist who collects and exhibits films to thepublic as opposed to an archivist who just collects and stores them in a locked place... Roud provides us with an intensely vivid and illustrative account of the man whom Truffaut once described as a man as picturesque and as contradictory as a Dickens character, and the contribution he made to film culture both in France and abroad. Theimage of Henri Langlois which emerges from this book is certainly an intriguing figure with his absolutely extraordinary passion for films." -- Sachiko Shikoda, Scope: An On-Line Journal of Film Studies

"Richard Roud has written a truly great and important book that cannot fail to be considered a major contribution to film history." -- Marcel Ophuls, American Film

"Part scholarly biography and part personal memoir... this is a good place to start learning about one of film's most charismatic figures." -- Library Journal

"A Passion for Films is a perfect title for Richard Roud's loving biography of Langlois... His book is also a personal memoir and a brief history of film archives and archivists. Most important, A Passion for Films provides an account of how Langlois virtually single-handedly created what we call today a film culture." -- Dan Isaac, New York Times Book Review

"The greatest value of this book is the clear outline it gives of Langlois's career and the history of film archives... Langlois was a flawed man and a curator who aired his films a little too boldly sometimes. But as Roud argues, he was a key instigator of the last great burst of creative energy in filmmaking: the New Wave. America has so poor a record in preserving its own films that the story of Langlois's efforts makes a great lesson." -- David Thompson, New Republic


"Richard Roud is the perfect Henri Langlois biographer." -- Louise Brooks


Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (June 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080186206X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801862069
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,525,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received my book sooner than expected. I was quite surprised it was once a Beverly Hills, CA library book. Wow, I was so surprised, happy, and very excited. I read this book for a research project for a film class at UC Berkeley. Reading Roud's on M. Langlois is a must read for a cinephile/film student. I was surprised to learn the Pacific Film Archive received assistance from M. Langlois in its formation from reading this book. He furnished films and introduced people to the founders of the Pacific Film Archive.

I would welcome an opportunity to order from this seller again. What a grand surprise to receive the earlier edition and a Beverly Hills library book to boot. Thank you very much, merci beaucoup.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good insight into the Cinematheque Francaise. I like that the biography is told more from primary sources and interviews rather than having a narrative forced into it. It is a little formless and anti-climactic, but so is life to an extent. Some fun facts, some good information, a good primer on this cinematically important institution.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After viewing the highly recommended Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque DVD I wanted to know more about the mysterious man who seems to have singlehandedly preserved innumerable classics of early cinema from the trash can of history. But this biography is rather slight mainly because there is not that much to tell about this man who really had no other interests or life outside of the cinematheque. Mostly what you get here are instances of his profound paranoia (he thought everyone was trying to steal his films) and instances of his profound disorganization (only Langlois knew exactly what films he had and where any particular film was at any given time). But nothing here is particularly revelatory.

I suppose the abiding interest in Langlois stems from the fact that he was an impassioned and independent amatore and that his life was organized (or not organized) according to his lifelong passion and not according to any professional or academic code of conduct. This makes him an attractive figure to artists for Langlois really had an artistic temperament which is to say that he was eccentric and temperamentally at odds with everything and everyone around him. Langlois wrote very little so he is not a name that film students and historians are likely to come across unless they are specifically interested in the history of film archives (Langlois was not the first to create a film archive but he was one of the first to understand the need to value and to preserve film history). Langlois's legacy is fourfold:

1)Langlois' primary legacy is the fact that he saved so many films from oblivion and since he refused to discriminate between a director's major and minor works (he knew that these kinds of judgments changed from generation to generation) he saved them all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really wonderful book by the great film critic Richard Roud, providing the reader with many hours of pleasure, reminiscing about the golden epoch of the Cinemateque Francaise, that bastion of film lore, created and supported throughout his eventful life by sacred monster Henri Langlois. It tends to be a little tedious by providing minute information on the creation of the different Film Archives around the world, but I guess this is part of the whole thing.
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