Whether you are a student or professor, there are a wide range of introductory film texts from which to choose -- it can be a bit overwhelming and a mistake is costly! This is especially true if you are the professor who is selecting an expensive text for your students (and they are all expensive) . . . you want provide them with a text worthy of the expense AND you do not want to invest additional hours photocopying material from other texts to compensate for less-than-fantastic chapters.
With this in mind, allow me to say that Pramaggoire and Wallis' text is the best I have ever encountered . . . bar none. I have used this text for over a year now, and the response has been extremely positive. It may initially seem irrelevant, but this text is extraordinary aesthetically appealing. Why is this important? Because we are talking about professors and students who have an interest in a VISUAL art. This text presents large, lush examples to compliment the text: not all texts invest this effort or expense. Moreover, the selected examples are spot-on . . . they are not randomly chosen BUT are the quintessential example of any given technique.
What makes this text great is both the organization (which others have mentioned) and the accessibility. Let's say you are not taking a formal class in film, you would have no problem reading this text solo. It is that understandable . . . and, let's face it, if an author cannot clearly explain an idea to a lay-person then he/she really do not know the subject. Pramaggoire and Wallis KNOW their subject.
And while there are several "well-written" texts on the market, not all incorporate contemporary examples. While Orson Wells and Ingmar Bergman are key to understanding film, one cannot successful base an introductory text on "The Greats." It simply does not engage the new student. Luckily, this text includes essential examples from film history as well as contemporary examples (like "Super Size Me," "Waking Life," "The Piano" and "Requiem for a Dream"). I am especially fond of the short analysis of Harron's "American Psycho" (an oft overlooked, cinematic masterpiece).
One final reason to select this text: while other writers are rehashing old critical approaches to film, Pramaggoire and Wallis select the most relevant and contemporary ones. They instruct readers on how to view a film in the context of race, gender, sexuality, class, and national identity: all of which are crucial to understanding film! Likewise, they address "film authorship" which is equally as valuable. The text is never bogged-down by jargon (many are) . . . nor is it heavy-handed in its approach. Unlike most texts, this one wants to be understood.
You will find texts with DVD-ROMs, texts with "writing" supplements, texts with online-course access, and other "bells and whistles" . . . but this text does not NEED any of that. (It seems the others are trying to compensate for their short-comings by including "bonus" material . . . but it just becomes MESSY!). I plan to continue using this text as a tool for teaching film . . . it is, BY FAR, the best on the market. It is "smart," beautiful, and completely accessible. Whether you are a professor seeking a new text or a lay-person looking to enhance your knowledge of film, you cannot go wrong with this work. Trust me, it is worth the price!!