A Year in Books/Day 115: James Williamson Studies and Documents of a Pioneer of the Film Narrative

  • Title: James Williamson Studies and Documents of a Pioneer of the Film Narrative
  • Author: Martin Sopocy
  • Year Published: 1998 (Associated University Presses, Inc.)
  • Year Purchased: 2002
  • Source: Unknown
  • About: Be warned: This book is so dry and bland that you could crumble it up and toss it in a bowl of soup. It’s so slow-paced that I had to put it away and pick it up again a few months later. Twice. That was a new experience for me, as I relish slogging through even the most dry-toast academic volumes. To have that happen with a book on silent film was almost unbearably disappointing. Yet, it is significant in its way: it’s a book about English filmmaker James Williamson; it offers painstakingly detailed breakdowns of films long since lost; the photographs and images of slides are of critical importance to film history.
  • Motivation: I have a sizable library of books on silent cinema. Since I write extensively on the subject, I’m always eager and excited to add a new volume (this book is possibly the only time I have been disappointed) to my collection.
  • Times Read: 1 (barely)
  • Random Excerpt/Page 61: “An overall view of the history of the film narrative could tempt us to suppose that motion photography, that cinema itself, has an inherent affinity with realism. Yet in actual practice such an affinity exists only to the extent that the filmmaker rejects the camera’s capacity for illusion and uses it instead with the conscious purpose of recording the world around him as he sees it, and the incidents within that world that have actually happened or could plausibly happen.”
  • Happiness Scale: 5

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