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The Director's Vision: A Concise Guide to the Art of 250 Great Filmmakers Paperback – December 1, 1999
In a refreshingly literal examination of "moving pictures," Geoff Andrew, film editor of London's Time Out magazine, explores the work of 250 filmmakers, one frame at a time. Andrew's approach is akin to yelling "Freeze!" in the middle of a movie, and then analyzing the frozen image as if it were a stand-alone photo. His technique is enormously successful, revealing the individual elements of composition--background, staging, lighting, body positioning, facial expression--that when compiled add up to the overarching feeling a film transmits to viewers. Dissecting a single frame also has the effect of sparking immediate appreciation for the countless factors a great director must not only be aware of but also give constant attention to.
Following the hilariously self-mocking foreword by Joel and Ethan Coen (which eliminates any possibility of the book being labeled stodgy or high-falutin), Andrews admits in the introduction that his selection process was difficult. He focuses on only those directors with a "recognizably distinctive visual style," and the selected stills are those that are "somehow representative of the filmmaker in question, which is not the same as saying it is the most beautifully visual image (let alone the most familiar) from his or her finest or most famous film."
In addition to the meticulously chosen stills, Andrew's text demands your involvement in the picture. He begins each explanation with a description of the shot: "Sex, violence, fear: a chanteuse has forced an innocent youth she's found watching her from the closet to strip and make love to her at knifepoint; but is someone now watching them?" Continuing his analysis, he illustrates how this scene fits into the director's vision for the film, and how it relates to his or her complete body of work. Insightful, incisive, and intelligent, Andrew makes clear to movie fans what skilled directors must know in their very being--if one picture paints a thousand words, a film is capable of millions. --Brangien Davis
From Library Journal
This is a frustrating volume. As film editor of London's Time Out and programmer of London's National Film Theatre, Andrew is a gifted critic. He provides trenchant observations about the directors assembled here, but he's limited by his form. Arranged alphabetically by director, entries come with partial filmographies and See Also references to similar filmmakers. About a third of each entry discusses a film still that supposedly exemplifies the style of the director in question. These stills--like the directors chosen for inclusion here--are generally well considered, and Andrew should be congratulated for his coverage of African, Asian, and Central European directors. But because each entry is limited to approximately 300 words, we get only the most tantalizing of generalizations. As a result, the book succeeds as neither a reference work nor a lavish coffee-table book. It is simply too concise to be of any great value for libraries.
-Neal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
On the other hand, though, this book is a blast to just flip through. I haven't heard of a lot of the directors in this book, and often one of the half-page frame grabs alone has made me want to go out and get one of a director's films from my local library. Indeed, a lot of great directors such as War-Kai Wong, Takeshi Kitano, Nicholas Roeg, and Krystof Kieslowski were introduced to me through this book, mainly through the stunning visuals of their movie stills; I actually don't value the text very much because of its heavily biased, opinionated nature, and the fact that sometimes the descriptions give spoilers for the films they describe, which is a shame for the films that I haven't seen yet. Rather, if I see a frame I'm really interested in, I'll briefly read the text for some basic information, and then go to the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) for a more objective view of the filmmaker's work.
Anyways, don't get this book if you really want "a concise guide to the art of 250 filmmakers;" *do* get this book if you just want to flip through the pages and see some of the most beautiful images you've ever laid your eyes on, and find out about some amazing directors you may have never heard of. Just make sure you take the author's opinions with a very big grain of salt.
These descriptions made me want to seek out films by the directors. I am very interested in researching some of the lesser known ones in the book, based on the author's observations. This book looks at film as an art form and gives a glimpse at each director's personal style and contribution to the art form.
However, if you are looking for an in-depth study or a pop-culture overview, the brevity may leave you wanting. What you won't get is a complete survey of their careers, or lots of sensational stories. Those are best left to tell-tale bios and tabloids. This book is strictly about the art and artists. Highly recommended.