For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Twenty-One Landmark European Films 1939-1999
  • Robert Cardullo
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
Twenty-One Landmark European Films 1939-1999.
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The essays in this insightful film-analysis text show cover twenty-one of the best European films made between the coming of World War II and the end of the twentieth century, showing what makes each of them outstanding. Written with university students in mind, these essays cover some of the central films treated — and central issues raised — in today's cinema courses and provide students with practical models to help them improve their own writing and analytical skills. A list of questions for discussion is included, to trigger further thinking among film buffs and to help educators and students prepare for class.
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About the Author

Bert Cardullo taught for four decades at the University of Richmond, the University of Michigan, Hunter College, and Colgate University. Cardullo’s essays and reviews have appeared in such journals as the Yale Review, Cambridge Quarterly, Film Quarterly, Cinema Journal, The Hudson Review, and the Quarterly Review of Film and Video. He is the author, editor, or translator of a number of books, among them Stage and Screen: Adaptation Theory from 1916 to 2000 (Continuum/Bloomsbury), Theater of the Avant-Garde, 1890-1950: A Critical Anthology (Yale University Press), Playing to the Camera: Film Actors Discuss Their Craft (Yale University Press), and Bazin at Work: Major Essays and Reviews From the ’40s and ’50s (Routledge).

About the Book

"In Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999, Bert Cardullo provides readers with highly valuable accounts of the context in which each film was made (and released). Although this may sound trivial, lack of context — social,...

"In Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999, Bert Cardullo provides readers with highly valuable accounts of the context in which each film was made (and released). Although this may sound trivial, lack of context — social, historical, and otherwise — is one of the great weaknesses of film criticism. On the other hand, Cardullo provides a comprehensive and detailed survey of what has already been said about each film, while simultaneously demonstrating how genuinely new his own analysis is. Frankly, positing a canon of significant films, as Cardullo does here, and then re-evaluating them — or rather, validating their importance — is a critical act of serious merit. Nowadays, academic film criticism takes an excessively microscopic view of the cinema. In short, the significance of Twenty-One Landmark European Films is that it creates a canon and makes a convincing argument for the place of these particular films within it.

"This work would have an appeal to any serious student of film. It is mercifully free of the critical-cum-theoretical jargon that disfigures most scholarly writing. As a result, the book can be read with profit by almost anyone. At the same time, Cardullo's lucid counter-arguments to the usual run-of-the-mill accounts scattered in film histories challenge the assumptions most professors have. One of Cardullo's strengths as a critic is precisely what he has to say about major films of the kind found in this book. I think he is at his best in tackling landmarks, European or otherwise: that's where his revisionist insights place him head and shoulders above academic film critics. Bert Cardullo does an excellent job of showing both why these works are landmarks and why to a great extent they've not been properly understood — until now."ť

-- John Mosier, Loyola University of New Orleans, USA

The book is aimed at students, teachers, and cinephiles with an interest in European cinema in particular and cinema studies in general, as well as at those educated readers with an interest in the practice of film analysis and criticism.

The only competition comes from Stanley Kauffmann’s relatively brief Ten Great Films (136 pp., 2012), which treats Potemkin, Way Down East, The Gold Rush, La Grande Illusion, Rashomon, L’avventura, Persona, 8˝, Tokyo Story, and Some Like It Hot. The current work offers twenty-one illustrated essays (Kauffmann’s book contains no images) and focuses on Europe. (The countries represented are France, Italy, England, Hungary, Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Denmark, Russia, Spain, Germany, Scotland, and Finland.) Twenty-One Landmark European Films, 1939-1999 overlaps with Kauffmann’s book only in the case of L’avventura, though the two approach this film from vastly different angles.

The essays in Twenty-One Landmark European Films are clear and readable—that is, sophisticated and meaty yet not overly technical or jargon-heavy. They will make perfect introductions to their respective films as well as important contributions to the field of film studies in general. Moreover, the book provides a complete critical apparatus—notes, bibliographies, credits, and filmographies, whereas Kauffmann’s has none.

This book could be one of the primary texts for courses in film analysis, to accompany a work like Timothy Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing about Film (8th edition, 2011). It would also be a suitable supplementary or secondary text in such courses as 'Introduction to Film' or 'Film Appreciation'; 'Western European Cinema'; 'History of Film' or 'Global Cinema'; and 'Film Directors' or 'Film Style and Imagination.'


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Year: 2015
BISAC: PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism
BISAC: PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Guides & Reviews
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