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The Power of Movies: How Screen and Mind Interact [Kindle Edition]

Colin Mcginn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $3.16 (21%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

How is watching a movie similar to dreaming? What goes on in our minds when we become absorbed in a movie? How does looking “into” a movie screen allow us to experience the thoughts and feelings of a movie’s characters? These and related questions are at the heart of The Power of Movies, a thoughtful, invigorating, and remarkably accessible book about a phenomenon seemingly beyond reach of our understanding. Colin McGinn–“an ingenious philosopher who thinks like a laser and writes like a dream,” according to Steven Pinker–enhances our understanding of both movies and ourselves in this book of rare and refreshing insight.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McGinn (The Making of a Philosopher) presents a lighthearted exegesis of film's hold on our imagination. He begins by suggesting a movie screen is something we look into rather than at, then considers what else our gaze takes on in this manner. Looking into an open fire, for example, captivates in a manner similar to the flickering lights of a film projection. The real meat of McGinn's theory, though, is in his assertion that watching a movie is like having a dream—it's better than dreaming, in fact, because a movie is "a dream as it has been rendered into art." The conjecture makes sense when he grounds it in earlier proposals that cinematic techniques of composition and editing mirror the processes of consciousness, but occasionally, the informal elaboration is taken to silly extremes, as when McGinn wonders if early evening is the best time to watch movies because previous generations went to bed right after sundown. And neuroscientists will have a field day refuting his argument that dreaming is such an elaborate process our minds simply must be working out our dreams before we fall asleep. Even at his most debatable, however, McGinn should remain entertaining to general audiences and more cerebral readers alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Lively. . . . Illuminating. . . . McGinn has struck gold.” —The Wall Street Journal“Enlightening. . . . Lucid, rewarding.” —The New York Times Book Review“Persuasive. . . .Astute. . . . McGinn synthesizes ideas about seeing movies with the passion of a buff.” —Entertainment Weekly


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 324 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400077206
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 10, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEFGLQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,723 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How screen images elicit emotional reactions April 19, 2006
Format:Hardcover
Fans of movies and movie history will appreciate this college-level discussion by a philosophy professor who takes a different look at the entertainment industry and its appeal. His analysis considers how movies affect the mind, fire the imagination, and cause viewers to relate to events on screen. Considerations of how screen images pair with emotional reactions and how dreams and narrative work together to create atmosphere create an intriguing blend of philosophical and psychological reflection.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a marvelous guy is Colin McGinn. He recently appeared with Bill Moyers on the 'Faith & Reason' series and is ever more apparently the closest thing we have in our culture to a modern-day rennaisance man. In 'The Power of Movies' we come to understand how it is that movies are capable of affecting us and what is unique about the movie-viewing experience - as opposed to perceiving other forms of art such as painting, live theater, etc. Personally, I am a huge fan of the way Colin McGinn thinks, what he thinks about, and the lucid, cogent way his thoughts are regurgitated which makes for easy ingestion and assimilation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Ways To Dream November 16, 2007
Format:Paperback
If you enjoyed the musical, Sunset Boulevard by Andrew Lloyd Webber', and liked the song "New Ways to Dream", you will love this book. McGinn takes us on a journey of analytic philosophy as he tries to understand why movies have become cultural icons in our western world. He does this with the skill of a journalist without making this a tutorial on Descartes, Strawson, Barthes, Freud, Wittgenstein or the many other philosophers and psychologists whom he has extensive knowledge as a professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, Florida. His favorite metaphor is that movies are like dreams. He describes movies as synthetic reality, wish fulfillment and propaganda sharing the attribute of being able to seduce our minds. Although he includes recorded music, theater, art and literature as tools to understand the ambiguous relation between mind and the external world, he ranks movies as the most important.

This book of 210 pages is the result of a great modern thinker sharing his thoughts about modern media and the movies. This book will be a favorite for film students and film buffs alike.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a breath of fresh air in serious film studies March 12, 2008
Format:Paperback
Colin Mcginn puts the great majority of film theorists to shame with this book. For at least three decades serious film studies have been largely (not entirely) under the hegemonic thumb of poststructuralist, and especially psychoanalytic, theory. Here, we have an extremely thoughtful consideration of film in relation, not to an already-institutionalized theory, but to human beings as creatures with certain kinds of cognitive faculties. Film appeals, Mcginn argues, because of the ways our eyes attend to the world and to the eyes of other people, and because we dream when we sleep. And Mcginn's explanations always show a very clear concern for the non-academic reader. Unlike, in my opinion, most scholars of film, Mcginn understands his own key ideas so well that he can explain them in ways that any reasonably educated person can comprehend. This does not mean his ideas are simple, only that he has mastered their complexity. We may not agree with him, but we can be clear about what he is saying. This has not typically been the case with film studies. Really a good read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Movies Have Such Power Over Us January 8, 2010
Format:Paperback
An engaging and fascinating philosophical discourse that attempts and, to my mind, succeeds in explaining why movies have such a strong hold on viewers. MgGinn identifies a number of characteristics of film, like how it connects to the way we perceive things visually, for example. Most strongly, though, McGinn explains cinema's power in its similarity to dreams and dreaming, specifically how dreams are similar to movies in the way they represent reality - fantastically and distorted - and the way dreams cut from one scene to another, the way films do. These are just a couple of ways that McGinn proposes that make films and dreams similar. McGinn is also clear as to when he is engaging in pure philosophical speculation and when he is philosophising with support from new findings from neuroscience. While reading McGinn's analysis, the reader also develops a sense of what makes good movies good, to the extent that they exploit the visual, psychological and dreamlike aspects which McGinn delineates. A good book to add to your understanding of films, dreaming and the mind.
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