From Publishers Weekly
Why exactly was Citizen Kane such a revolutionary film? What are the hallmarks of Italian Neorealism? How do directors sew together a smooth scene from five or six different shots? Fabe answers these questions and more in this primer on the narrative structure of filmmaking, which analyzes 14 benchmark movies from D.W. Griffiths The Birth of a Nation to Mike Figgiss Timecode. (Since each film was selected to represent a significant cinematic movementexpressionism, postmodernism, French New Wave, etc.the book also doubles as a concise history of films most innovative storytellers.) Fabe teaches film theory at the University of California, Berkeley, and her chapters maintain the conversational feel of lecture notes: each one gives some background on and a plot synopsis of the film discussed then provides a close analysis of a particular sequence. Antonio Riccis decision to steal in De Sicas The Bicycle Thief, for example, is broken down to show how moral conflict can be encapsulated in a split second. Fabes analysis proves most engaging when it shows how each cinematic element works to add subtext and depth to story and character. Her explication of Hitchcocks camera work in Notorious, for example, shows how his use of space in a frame could evoke either freedom or claustrophobia. Fabes book is best suited for the classroom, but even general readers may enjoy her insights, which allow one to read a chapter, pop in the corresponding DVD and experience the satisfaction of knowing how a classic film was put together. 74 b/w photos.
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"Writing in a clear prose that is nevertheless based on a complex awareness of film history, criticism, and technique, Fabe takes us through the diverse film strategies of exemplary classic directors who have significantly shaped the history of film and made it into a potent cultural force." - Claire Kahane, author of Passions of the Voice; "I am deeply impressed by this book and in awe of its scope. It imparts its wisdom about film with such seeming effortlessness, illuminating the ways that films work. It is an extremely informed book and an extraordinary achievement." - Madelon Sprengnether, author of Crying at the Movies; "Fabe approaches her material in an original and stimulating manner. The writing is fluid and down to earth, yet also addresses relevant issues." - Tim Shively, De Anza College; "In Closely Watched Films revered film teacher Marilyn Fabe brings to life on the page the many lessons proffered in her legendary courses." - Linda Williams, University of California, Berkeley"