...The Story of Film
Mark Cousin's epic 15 part film series has to be one of the finest TV series I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Put aside the fact that I am a film nut to the very bone, Cousins has managed to put across how vital and wonderful our film history is, how countries, people and eras have used film to represent, depict and capture the unique cultural, social, political, economical and emotional aspects of their time, space and place.
Cousins covers 120 years of this unique and beguiling art form, his views are very much his own in many regards to favourite films and in the selection of archival footage but even if your pleasures differ to his, I admit I find some of his choices odd to say the least, his approach and reasoning for such films are valid, his structure supports such claims and his introduction to each film era, movement, director or location is second to none.
Each chapter is broken down in years and in chronological order he charts the rise of film making around the globe, we watch how countries like Russia, China, Iran, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, India, South Africa start picking up cameras and start pointing them inwards, charting and recording their lives, history and cultural differences. We follow the 'romantic' cinema of America; Cousins rejects the term 'classical', and how silent film took box offices by storm, how the studio system rose, prospered and died, the free independent spirit of the 60's ,the rise of the movie brats, the almighty takeover of the blockbuster, the digital era and so on.
It's the focus on film makers I know little of and film movements in places like czechoslovakia and Senegal that really stand out for me, Cousins has a way of explaining not only their importance and significance but also their beauty and uniqueness; as soon as an episode has finished I will have another dozen films added to my must watch list. Each episode is an hour long and focus is evenly split among the more well known cinema and their players as it is for lesser known countries, avant garde film-makers and independent underground spirits, quite simply this is a cinephiles love letter.