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39 of 62 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ego of Filmmaker Ruins Odyssey, December 15, 2012
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This review is from: The Story of Film: An Odyssey (DVD)
I just received my copy of "The Story of Film: An Odyssey", and I'm having trouble getting through the first episode. It's a shame that the writer/director, Mark Cousins, didn't have a trusted friend around him who was honest enough to say, "Hey, your narration, to be kind, is lousy. Use a pro."

Cousins has a strange speech affectation where he ends every sentence as if he's asking a question. It's not a natural way of speaking. A statement ends with a downturn in tone, a question ends in an upturn. He ends virtually every sentence with an upturn in tone. It may sound trivial but, believe me, after several minutes of this, let alone several hours, it becomes very grating.

Alas, Mr. Cousins is an example of a filmmaker whose ego ruins what might have been his masterpiece. But the film has other problems besides the narration.

As for the history of film presented, from what little I could watch, I found it preposterous. Cousins has very few "experts" on camera to back up his assertions, so we are to believe what he says just because he says them? He has the audacity to state that one filmmaker "borrowed" from or was "influenced" by another because of a slight similarity of a scene. This isn't fact or history, it's his opinion!

Somebody was foolish enough to indulge Cousins by giving him a ton of money to ramble and mumble
over disjointed scenes of film clips and his ridiculous reconstructions of filmmakers techniques. Unfortunately I was foolish enough, and a big enough film buff to be awed by the title and the length of the series, to hand over my money without knowing anything about the film's contents or its writer.

I would implore anyone reading this, do not throw away your hard earned money on this trite. If you must watch it, Netflix has the entire series available for instant streaming. I'm quite upset because I paid for it before it was available on Netflix.

There are many who will defend this film, calling it a masterpiece, epic, historic and a thousand other flowery adjectives. That's OK, denial is understandable after spending $60 and expecting so much and getting so little. Poor souls, they tied themselves to a chair and kept their eyelids open a la "A Clockwork Orange" because, damn it, this film is important! It's long and was expensive! So what if one can't hear half the things Cousins says, because every sentence he utters trails off into an incomprehensible mumble. This is fine since only half of what he says is accurate anyway. And that's debatable.

If you're still planning on purchasing "The Story of Film", do me, rather, do someone a huge favor and buy it on eBay..."like new, only partially watched..."
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 3, 2013 10:16:23 PM PST
I couldn't agree more. I made it through the first episode, but when I started the second episode I go to frustrated and gave up. I couldn't handle the narration. Why didn't a producer intervene? This documentary is rendered unwatchable because of his horrible narration!

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 5:22:08 PM PST
While I have to agree that his whispered monotone is quite irritating, the way he ends his sentences is by no means a 'strange speech affectation.' He is - if you didn't notice - of Gaelic descent, and that is generally how sentences end there. My Scottish grandmother spoke the same way, even after decades living here in the States. To dismiss it as a 'strange affectation' is almost offensive.

Feel free to trash his monotone though, or the fact that he talks in levels barely above a whisper. ;-)

As for the content, I'm watching it on Netflix right now, and am finding it to be a fascinating alternate take on film history. That said, I AM frustrated by his distaste for 'Hollywood' film making. He manages to talk about 70s American film without once mentioning Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. I can understand if he has some distaste for it, but to ignore Jaws and Star Wars completely is almost incomprehensible.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 11:21:06 PM PST
Jane Sandorf says:
Volume 11 has at least ten minutes dedicated to Lucas and Spielberg and it is quite lovely. See the end of that...

By the third volume his voice sounded as pleasant as the waves on the beach. You just need to let it sink in...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 11:38:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2013 11:39:11 PM PST
C.P.G. says:
...like a drill to the temple.

Posted on Feb 9, 2013 6:50:53 PM PST
"There are many who will defend this film, calling it a masterpiece, epic, historic and a thousand other flowery adjectives. That's OK, denial is understandable after spending $60 and expecting so much and getting so little. Poor souls, they tied themselves to a chair and kept their eyelids open a la "A Clockwork Orange" because, damn it, this film is important! It's long and was expensive!"

Adorable attempt to dismiss the opinion of everyone who disagrees with you. Unfortunately for your childish "theory," I watched this for free (well, for the cost of a Netflix subscription) and fell in love with it. I found it addictive and looked forward to each new episode. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I've decided to spend $50 to purchase the DVD set.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with somebody hating the series. I do have a problem, however, with anyone who feels the need to invent ulterior motives for everyone who disagrees with his or her assessment of a work. It's a stupid and immature thing to do, and it shows that you haven't yet learned that different people can have wildly different reactions to the same work.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2013 7:51:48 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 9, 2013 7:58:30 PM PST
C.P.G. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Mar 24, 2013 9:45:12 AM PDT
I have to agree on the narration. He sounds like a Valley Boy, and does not only upwardly inflect every sentence. It's almost every word. I can understand someone's not being put off by this. I can also imagine, vividly, how it is maddening enough to make someone (say me) not make it past Episode 1.

Posted on Aug 12, 2013 8:19:46 PM PDT
I would be hard-pressed to believe that the ending? every? syllable? as? if? it? was? asking? a? question? is a general Gaelic peculiarity. I'd easier believe it is a quirk unique to Mr. Cousins, a man evidently totally in love with the sound of his own voice. The narration sank it for me too; I didn't make it past episode two.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2013 3:33:57 PM PDT
Karris says:
I'm with you, Thomas. This isn't a film for fanboys. It is about aesthetics and directors. It is brilliant, in spite of the handful of mistakes, which I forgive for the larger content. Also, the 70's were one of the greatest periods for film ever, and NOT due to the contributions of Mr. Lucas or Speilberg. There are many who believe they changed film back into the formulaic pap it was before the amazing promise of the early 70's.

Posted on Oct 22, 2013 1:52:30 PM PDT
marronglace says:
I love the Northern Irish accent and conversational tone (daughter's father-in-law from same part of world speaks in this fashion). Unfortunately, I started with Episode 8. Happily, I'll be able to purchase this beautiful achievement on DVD.
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