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The award-winning film Dont Look Back (1967) captures Bob Dylan on tour and on the cusp of change in 1965. Dylan was rapidly shedding his image as a folk musician and being reborn as a rock persona – and D. A. Pennebaker was there to record this fascinating transformation. This insightful book charts the ways in which Pennebaker revised aspects of observational 'direct cinema', a style of film-making that he helped to pioneer, in order to represent in innovative ways Dylan's onstage performances and backstage actions. Keith Beattie's perceptive and nuanced analysis explains the relationship between 'pose' and the performative presentation of 'persona', which forms the basis of the film's portrayal, and explores Pennebaker's relationship with Dylan in the film-making process. In doing so, the book highlights many remarkable moments from Dont Look Back and demonstrates how this landmark film eschewed the informationalism of the documentary form, revealing a captivating portrait of its beguiling subject.
Chris Marker's La Jetée is 28 minutes long and almost entirely made up of black-and-white still images. Since its release in 1964, this legendary French film – which Marker described as a 'photo-novel' – has haunted generations of viewers and inspired writers, artists and film-makers. Its spiralling time-travel narrative has also influenced many other films, including the Terminator series and Terry Gilliam's Hollywood 'remake' Twelve Monkeys (1995). But as Marker rarely gave interviews, little is really known about the origins of La Jetée or the ideas behind it. In this groundbreaking study, Chris Darke draws on rare archival material, including previously unpublished correspondence and production documents, to examine the making of the film. He explores how Marker's only fiction film was influenced both by his early work as a writer and by Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958), and considers how La Jetée's images can be seen to 'echo' throughout Marker's extraordinarily diverse oeuvre.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) is and perhaps always will be Werner Herzog's most important film. Appearing in 1972, Aguirre put Herzog on the map of world cinema. But the film's importance also derives from the young German director's tense, behind-the-scenes relationship with actor Klaus Kinski. Did Herzog really direct him at gunpoint? Did they plot each other's murder? The legends begin here ... In this groundbreaking book, Eric Ames reconstructs the film as an experiment in visualising the past from the viewpoint of the present. Aguirre is not a history film in the narrow sense, but it does engage a specific episode in the conquest of the New World, and it explores that history in terms of vision. Interweaving close analysis with extensive archival research, Ames explores Aguirre as a seminal film about the madness and hopelessness of Western striving. In addition, as an appendix, he offers for the first time a complete translation of an infamous, secretly recorded argument between Herzog and Kinski on the set.
Part thinking-man s fan crush, part crazily inspired remix of the most beloved of film genres, this book will force scholars and film lovers alike to view film noir afresh"
Fifty years after its release, The Sound of Music (1965) remains the most profitable and recognisable film musical ever made. Quickly consolidating its cultural authority, the Hollywood film soon eclipsed the German film and Broadway musical that preceded it to become one of the most popular cultural reference points of the twenty-first century. In this fresh exploration, Caryl Flinn foregrounds the film's iconic musical numbers, arguing for their central role in the film's longevity and mass appeal. Stressing the unique emotional bond audiences establish with The Sound of Music, Flinn traces the film's prehistories, its place amongst the tumultuous political, social and cultural events of the 1960s, and its spirited afterlife among fans around the world.
The release of Star Wars in 1977 marked the start of what would become a colossal global franchise. Star Wars remains the second highest-grossing film in the United States, and George Lucas's six-part narrative has grown into something more: a culture that goes far beyond the films themselves, with tie-in toys, novels, comics, games and DVDs as well as an enthusiastic fan community which creates its own Star Wars fictions. Critical studies of Star Wars have treated it as a cultural phenomenon, or in terms of its special effects, fans and merchandising, or as a film that marked the end of New Hollywood's innovation and the birth of the blockbuster. Will Brooker's illuminating study of the film takes issue with many of these commonly-held ideas about Star Wars. He provides a close analysis of Star Wars as a film, carefully examining its shots, editing, sound design, cinematography and performances. Placing the film in the context of George Lucas's previous work, from his student shorts to his 1970s features, and the diverse influences that shaped his approach, from John Ford to Jean-Luc Godard, Brooker argues that Star Wars is not, as Lucas himself has claimed, a departure from his earlier cinema, but a continuation of his experiments with sound and image. He reveals Lucas's contradictory desires for total order and control, embodied by the Empire, and for the raw energy and creative improvisation of the Rebels. What seemed a simple fairy-tale becomes far more complex when we realise that the director is rooting for both sides; and this tension unsettles the saga as a whole, blurring the boundaries between Empire and Republic, dark side and light side, father and son.
Back to the Future was the top-grossing film of 1985 and winner of the 1986 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture. This fascinating study places the film in the historical context of the Reagan era, the “New New Hollywood,” and director Robert Zemeckis’s filmmaking career. Among the major themes explored are time travel and the potential and pitfalls of science and atomic energy. The book also considers teen culture in the 1980s and the 1950s, depicted in the film as a period in which traditional “American” values and gender roles contrasted sharply with the more troubled decade from which Marty McFly begins his time-traveling adventures. Includes 60 color stills from the movie.

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