Understanding Movies


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A readable, accessible introduction to film Understanding Movies provides valuable insight into how movies communicate and convey meaning to their audiences through a unique network of language systems and techniques. In a readable, accessible, and sometimes humorous manner, Understanding Movies engages students in the fascinating language of film and helps further their appreciation and understanding of why and how movie watchers respond as they do to different films. Organized around elements of film, the thirteenth ...

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Dec 16, 2010

This is the ideal book for someone to understand in deapt the art of cinema. I loved it.

Mara L C

Oct 7, 2010

Understanding Movies Without Propaganda

This is an excellent historical/critical compendium on hundreds of influential and significant films, mainly from the 20th century, but inclusive of the last several years as well.

The book details technical, political/sociological and artistic components and how they have affected production design, editing techniques, and developments in acting/directing; it also considers audience response elements.

It is written for the general reader and for educated people who are interested in both the technical and affective aspects of film, and enjoy understanding basic theories about the medium of film, but do not find enlightenment from theory-driven texts.

All-in-all, a very comprehensive book. Bravo to Louis Giannetti!
Mara L. Cunningham


Mar 18, 2010

A popular college text for over 20 years

UNDERSTANDING MOVIES by Louis Giannetti is just now going into its 13th edition, and that's hardly surprising due to the book's brevity, broad appeal, and wealth of information.

Although the book is only about half the size of competitive books -- Gerald Mast's SHORT HISTORY OF THE MOVIES and Bordwell and Thompson's FILM HISTORY (and their FILM ART), the Giannetti work excels because it is more direct, logical and linear in introducing the fundamentals of photography, editing, acting, set placement (mise en scene), postproducion and so on.

In other words it's a common-sense progression that will take the reader from complete ignorance to "film producer." Unlike similar books, it does not work film theory or ideology into numerous chapters; though as a concession to the times, Giannetti has introduced a separate chapter called "Ideology" in recent editions.

Although the last couple of editions are still very expensive because of their captive-audience college use, the 9th, 10th and 11th editions are very reasonably priced and in content are very similar to later editions, though not as up-to-date in terms of digital film technology.

UNDERSTANDING MOVIES is replete with photographic stills from a vast variety of movies, some of which serve to illustrate discussion of that film, or otherwise illustrate a principle of film. Other noticeable perks in the book are the complete storyboarding sequence from the "crop-duster" sequence of Alfred Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and a painstaking sequence analysis from CITIZEN KANE.

You don't have to be a college undergrad to appreciate UNDERSTANDING MOVIES and to gain from it. The prose style is very user-friendly and since the book is shorter than its competitors, this is a very accessible (as well as very informative) read. My only major criticism of the book (or perhaps better said, series), is that the discussion of gay and lesbian themes comes across as perfunctory and a little trivial. Some expansion is needed.

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