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The Power of Film Paperback – Unabridged, September 1, 2006
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From the Publisher
"What Artistotle did for drama, Suber has now done for film. This is a profound and succint book that is miraculously fun to read." -David Koepp, Screenwriter, War of the Worlds (2005), Spider-Man, Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Suber's book, "The Power of Film", uses this same Socratic Method but the technique is necessarily different. Instead of asking questions, a writer can only pose riddles, and to this end Suber employees wit and irony to provoke careful and thoughtful reading of his concise dictionary like definitions.
The films Suber examines are American films. Without being jingoistic, he says that over the decades American films have been the most popular not only in the U.S. but all over the world. The American films he focuses on are those that have maintained their appeal ten years after they were released those, in other words, which have stood the test of time and remain perennial favorites.
The question he asks is: "What makes these films classics?"
Some of the answers are surprising. The notion, for example, that Hollywood films, to be popular, have to have a happy ending, Suber demonstrates is not true. Think of the Godfather films, Lawrence of Arabia, Chinatown. Even "It's a Wonderful Life" journeys through some very dark regions before emerging with a comic ending.
So why do people go to see these films? Suber suggests that going to the movies is akin to going to church, that what people need and want is to experience time honored rituals that put us in touch with our humanity.Read more ›
Certainly as Bill Cosby used to say, "Be careful or you just might learn something". Film students and pros, no doubt already know about(and swear by)this book, this review is for the rest of us, those who just like films. The Power of Film would make a terrific gift for lovers of films of all ages and is certainly a must read for anyone with film career aspirations.
Don't read this book on the subway, in a coffee shop, or when you're pretending to work at your desk. The giveaway will be your yelped aha's piercing the ambient din.
Suber has sculpted a monumental body of knowledge into an accessible, quickly referenced work that--if it were a film--would haunt you with those epic images and classic dialog that make memorable films part of us all.
Suber knows Film. That means the making, the money, the heartache, but most of all that Film with a capital F is an overarching phenomenon, not merely merchandise. It affects our lives. We live through it; we use it as a touchstone. It is this psychological aspect--the slippery intangibles of our interactions with film--that Suber wrestles with, and wins.
As a psychologist before I was a screenwriter, I was trained to study behavior as a complexity to be approached with respect, the scientific method, an armload of tests to be interpreted and, oh yes, billed for. Tests like the Rorschach are called "projective" for a reason: we supposedly hurl our subconscious fears, desires and emotions onto an ambiguous stimulus--an inkblot that can be a car crash, or mom. Suber applies this to how we fling ourselves onto film.Read more ›
|Length: 2:37 Mins|
The Power of Film is not a how-to book or theoretical treatise, however. Rather, it is a lexicon of movie storytelling concepts. The topics range from Accidents to Writing What You Know, and cover such things as the most important word in storytelling (it's `but'), the `real' American religion (individualism), the characteristics of the Hero (someone outside of society who sacrifices personal happiness and contentment for the greater good or goal) and whether happy endings are really mandatory. Suber also talks about genres (the essential characteristics of each), dramatic structure (some), and specific narrative tools such as the Macguffin. Throughout the book the emphasis is squarely on the mainstream American film, so you will be able to find many exceptions to the `rules' Suber mentions here, though `rules' isn't the right word. Rather, they are `insights' or concepts which work and have done so for ages, but which are just some of the possible narrative solutions to the problems cinematic storytelling poses.
This is a book to dip into, and which is intended to spark the imagination of the reader. Not all of the topics are equally enlightening, and I disagreed with the definition of the Crisis Point, but as an encyclopaedia of Hollywood storytelling it is currently without equal.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is such an interesting read. I loved reading about the different movies and different terms about movies. I like how the book is organized and payed out. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Elizabeth
This book is suited to people reading something on this subject for the first time. It is written in a glossary style. Read morePublished on August 5, 2013 by Anshuman Fotedar
The author gives it an alphabetical list of terms used in film industry and uses examples from films to illustrate.Published on June 15, 2013 by Kelley Walrath
A tiny bit repetitive but better than what passes for film school these days. a must for those interested in filmPublished on May 27, 2013 by unnamed
among the mountains of rules and paradigm books about film, this is a rare gem that must not be just required reading, but re-reading. smart, witty, insightful.Published on March 2, 2013 by Stan Berg
As a screenwriter and Film Professor, I use THE POWER OF FILM in my intro class and have found it be a valuable resource for all of my students. Read morePublished on September 6, 2010 by Jeffrey Hirschberg
To put this review in perspective, I took Professor Howard Suber's (he insisted on us calling him Howard) film structure course in the early 90's when I was at UCLA. Read morePublished on May 10, 2010 by Kurt
I've had the priviledge of taking Professor Suber's class at UCLA but having this book allows me to revisit class discussions and to really go in depth on the themes and structure... Read morePublished on November 8, 2009 by J. M. Thornton
Don't be fooled by its easy-going prose and simple A-Z design -- contained within its punchy entries is a brilliant meditation on the language of visual storytelling. Read morePublished on November 8, 2009 by The Moviegoer