MOVIES: A LANGUAGE IN LIGHT

by Richard L. Stromgren and Martin F. Norden

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984
ISBN 0-13-604307-0
296 pages


In their Preface the authors quote Stanley J. Solomon: "All artists manipulate their material and thereby, to an extent, their audiences -- not to mislead them, but to emphasize areas of importance. But audiences have a responsibility to themselves of intellectual awareness, a need to evaluate not only the effects of the art experience but the procedures and techniques that the artist uses to achieve his purposes."

This book is about that responsibility.

What is it that we find entertaining, educating, or enlightening? This book shows us how to learn more about the structured images and the directorial intent behind these images. It helps us identify, define, and analyze film form and function, the keys to the focus and scope of this work.

Among its features, the book:

  • introduces the historical underpinnings of the realist and formalist traditions in film
  • focuses on aspects related to the camera such as visual composition and movement
  • combines editing and sound as post-production considerations
  • compares film with other narrative media
  • discusses the growth and development of film theories and methods of film criticism

"Although through 24 years of teaching television and film I have flirted with Giannetti and others, I still think the best basic film grammar text for mass communication students is Movies: A Language in Light by Richard Stromgren and Martin Norden. . . I use this fine book as an outline -- and inspiration -- for many of my lectures." --Ralph Donald, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Mass Communication, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

CONTENTS: Preface; An Evolution in Film Form and Function; Composition and Movement; Editing and Sound; Setting and Actor; Film as Storytelling; Narrative Patterns and Genre Traits; Film and Literature; Film and Theater; Film and Television; Documentary Forms; Avant-Garde Films; Film Theories and Critical Methods; Bibliography; References; Index.

RICHARD L. STROMGREN is retired as an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA. His co-authored book Light and Shadows: A History of Motion Pictures (Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield, 1987) has been widely adopted as a film-history text.

MARTIN F. NORDEN teaches and writes about film as a Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His articles have appeared in such journals as Film & History, Film Criticism, Journal of Film and Video, Paradoxa, and Wide Angle, and in numerous anthologies. His books include The Changing Face of Evil in Film and Television (Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2007), The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994), and John Barrymore: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995). He is currently editing an anthology on the early American filmmaker Lois Weber.

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