How to Read a Film: The World of Movies, Media, and Multimedia : Language, History, Theory
First published in 1977, this popular book has become the source on film and media. Now, James Monaco offers a revised and rewritten third edition incorporating every major aspect of this dynamic medium right up to the present.
Looking at film from many vantage points, How to Read a Film: Movies, Media, Multimedia explores the medium as both art and craft, sensibility and science, tradition and technology. After examining film's close relation to such other narrative media as the novel, painting, photography, television, and even music, Monaco discusses those elements necessary to understand how films convey meaning and, more importantly, how we can best discern all that a film is attempting to communicate.
In a key departure from the book's previous editions, the new and still-evolving digital context of film is now emphasized throughout How to Read a Film. A new chapter on multimedia brings media criticism into the twenty-first century with a thorough discussion of topics like virtual reality, cyberspace, and the proximity of both to film. Monaco has likewise doubled the size and scope of his "Film and Media: A Chronology" appendix. The book also features a new introduction, an expanded bibliography, and hundreds of illustrative black-and-white film stills and diagrams. It is a must for all film students, media buffs, and movie fans.
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"Book Review: HOW TO READ A FILM; The world of movie, media, multimedia"
by: Tusher Nabi Khan
Critical Review: The arguments that the author raises are bold and significant. I will be critically analyzing the most significant ones. First of all, the author believes that the film is an economical product. Although he has successfully proved that it is one of the strongest art forms till now, he sees film from economical context as well. He has shown the history of the most significant art forms (Popular Arts) and their functionalities. He divides art into three categories: performance art, representational art and recording art. Performance art happens in real time, representational art uses previously established codes and language but the recording art creates direct line between the subject and observer, it is known as film. Film does not have a codified language; it is not a language system like written or spoken language. But it certainly serves many of the same functions of communication. So film has a structure, logical precision.
James Monaco Provides way of looking into art, in it the production links the artist and the work, the consumption takes place between the work and consumer. It thus draws a line between artist and the observer.
The author talks about the dialectic of criticism where the Frankfurt school explains the economy behind film. The film initially fell under the popular culture but sooner it was spread and reached mass culture. Thus the more people it could reach the more money it could make. The psychological attention replaced authority with consumerism.
In the present time, most of the films are commercially made; main purpose is to do business. I do completely agree with the author. To me, the author has extensively proved his point in several chapters. Even in present time, there is a so called terminology named the Alternative Film/ Cinema. According to its characteristics, it shall remain above the commercialization process which in reality is not at all.
Secondly, James Monaco argues that anyone can see film but only the literates can read. I completely agree with him. Film theorists have identified the science of reading film. Film may not have specific rules of usage but it still communicates almost in a same manner that typical language does. Film deals with sign and syntax, symbols and connotations. There are codes which exist in other art forms and they can also be used to describe film. So, film certainly is one kind of language that consists of codes. These codes give meaning in the perceptual process of the observer. This science is known as Semiotics. Monaco believes that some people learn to grasp visual images physiologically, ethnographically and psychologically in a sophisticated manner. The author has briefly described the semiotics of film. One who does not know this science cannot be a critical observer of film. The author has successfully discussed the language of film and I do agree that to be a literate audience one needs to learn this science thoroughly.
Finally, Monaco argues that Film has achieved the form of “Media” and it is has become a mass culture. During the cold war, lots of spy films and science fictions were made (example: Invasion of the body snatchers, 1956).The films are now seen from a capitalized perspective where the benefits of viewers are brought into. It is at the middle of business and technology. It shall thus be seen in the context of broader communication and entertainment industry known collectively as “the media”; Monaco argues (p-428). This film industry has spread throughout the world and has got a capitalized shape; technologies have emerged in an advanced look to support the industry. The contents carry political influence and it serves according to the need of viewers. In fact, the viewers are (read full at: https://www.academia.edu/7135464/Book_Review_HOW_TO_READ_A_FILM_The_world_of_movie_media_multimedia_James_Monaco_ )