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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077205
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. Donovan, Editor/Sr. Reviewer on 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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lance Drake on July 3, 2006
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ImageMD VINE VOICE on 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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