The Power of Film
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(38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Sales Rank: #39096 in Books
- Published on: 2006-09-01
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: .91" h x 5.52" w x 8.46" l, 1.15 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 424 pages
- ISBN13: 9781932907179
- Condition: New
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From the Publisher
Advance Reviews for the Power of Film "Suber genuinely helps us understand 'the power of film' - why it has been the predominant art form for more than a century, and why it continues to have such power over the lives we all lead" - Geoff Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival
"What Artistotle did for drama, Suber has now done for film. This is a profound and succint book that is miraculously fun to read." -David Koepp, Screenwriter, War of the Worlds (2005), Spider-Man, Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park
About the Author
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
A great read - informative and terrific fun
By Doug Carneal
Getting the book and reading all of the blurbs on the cover written by film experts like Coppola and several successful Hollywood screenwriters, I was a bit concerned that perhaps I had purchased an insiders handbook, which might prove too esoteric for the casual reader. The 'power of the book' Prof. Suber has written, is his ability to take substantive information and make it enjoyable reading. The book is written in bite size stories, alphabetized by topic, each insightful and entertaining. I often sat down with the intent of a quick read of one or two articles and discovered I had read seven or eight. The topics are easy to digest, yet informative enough to go back and read several times.
Certainly as Bill Cosby used to say, "Be careful or you just might learn something". Film students and pros, no doubt already know about(and swear by)this book, this review is for the rest of us, those who just like films. The Power of Film would make a terrific gift for lovers of films of all ages and is certainly a must read for anyone with film career aspirations.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
Meet the Author: Howard Suber on The Power of Film
By Michael Wiese
Watch Video Here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3ETLEMBQPK3TS Author and mentor to many of Hollywood's most successful writers, directors and producers, Howard Suber discusses some of the paradigm busting ideas found in his book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
An Essential Book
By Don Maxwell
Howard Suber delivered a lecture to a large gathering in a theater in Kansas City this spring. What was striking about the experience was how Professor Suber turned this theater into a classroom and, by asking questions, made us active participants in a search for answers to the question: "What makes a film great?".
Suber's book, "The Power of Film", uses this same Socratic Method but the technique is necessarily different. Instead of asking questions, a writer can only pose riddles, and to this end Suber employees wit and irony to provoke careful and thoughtful reading of his concise dictionary like definitions.
The films Suber examines are American films. Without being jingoistic, he says that over the decades American films have been the most popular not only in the U.S. but all over the world. The American films he focuses on are those that have maintained their appeal ten years after they were released those, in other words, which have stood the test of time and remain perennial favorites.
The question he asks is: "What makes these films classics?"
Some of the answers are surprising. The notion, for example, that Hollywood films, to be popular, have to have a happy ending, Suber demonstrates is not true. Think of the Godfather films, Lawrence of Arabia, Chinatown. Even "It's a Wonderful Life" journeys through some very dark regions before emerging with a comic ending.
So why do people go to see these films? Suber suggests that going to the movies is akin to going to church, that what people need and want is to experience time honored rituals that put us in touch with our humanity.
As a practicing filmmaker, I have spent many hours over the years thinking about how to use the power of film to move an audience and I am always looking for help. Of the many available, I have culled a few "essential" books on film theory and aesthetics. Eisenstein's "Film Sense" and "Film Form" are two, Pudovkin's 'Film Technique and Film Acting", Mascelli's "Five C's of Cinematography" and a few others. Suber's "The Power of Film" has already taken its place with these.
Why? Because first of all, the book is packed with information and insight covering every subject about American film, literally from A to Z. Second, the insights are uncannily precise. A brief example: I don't like using flashbacks because I feel they are too easy but I find I must at times because they are sometimes necessary and I haven't been able to think of anything better. This is in Suber's definition of "Flasbacks":
"The reason flashbacks came back is that they are not merely
stylistic flourishes, like iris shots; they are necessary tools
that, so far, cannot be replaced by others."
The authority of this statement is reassuring, but notice the two words: "so far"; this tiny insertion leaves open the possibility and, indeed, ecourages the search for other ways.
How to transition to a flashback?
"The camera moves to a tight close up of a character's eyes, they
glaze over and we hear an echo chamber voice..."
I fear that every time I use this device that someone in the audience is going to yell out: "Visual cliche!". It never happens and I continue to use it because, as Professor Suber says: "no one has come up with anything substantially better.".
This is a sampling of some of what can be considered Suber's practical advise; but this book is very rich and has a broad range and covers everything from the technical to the philosophical.
The entry for "Tragedy" is three pages long but delivers a store of wisdom. One paragraph in this concise definition is about "impulsivity", and the final line reads:
"Impulsivity we see over and over again leads to tragedy."
The philosopher Martin Buber in his book "Good and Evil" devotes pages of discussion to the tendancy to impulsivity and how it is an aspect of evil. Suber's book is obviously a distillation of years of thinking and study not only about film but also about human nature.
The entries that make up this book are cross referenced. This cross referencing, like the use of wit and irony, is not only an practical aid, but also an encouragement to explore the connection of ideas.
Suber has carefully culled the essential ideas of what makes a film "great" and this selection reveals that the subject in Suber's mind has a unity, that it constitutes an aesthetic, an interlocking system of ideas. It is an indication of Howard Suber's wisdom as a teacher that he does not expound this system but only indicates it; and because this system must be discovered and recreated by every reader, it will always be new.