The Secret Language of Film

Overview

In his first book about film, Europe's premier screenwriter turns a uniquely sophisticated and knowledgeable eye onto the evolution of the language of film over its first hundred years. Jean-Claude Carriere explores the vocabulary of that language - camera angles, lighting, the use of one actor rather than another, one setting rather than another, the subliminal messages contained in a full range of moviemaking techniques - and discusses the ways this vocabulary has been developed and used by some of the most ...
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Overview

In his first book about film, Europe's premier screenwriter turns a uniquely sophisticated and knowledgeable eye onto the evolution of the language of film over its first hundred years. Jean-Claude Carriere explores the vocabulary of that language - camera angles, lighting, the use of one actor rather than another, one setting rather than another, the subliminal messages contained in a full range of moviemaking techniques - and discusses the ways this vocabulary has been developed and used by some of the most exciting and ground-breaking directors and cameramen of our time. He examines the growing sophistication of the audience over the years, and how film language has changed accordingly. He points out how film has altered our perception of time. And he explains how screenwriting has developed along with the visual medium it influences and serves. Filled with anecdote and insight, The Secret Language of Film will illuminate and heighten the perceptions of anyone who spends time in front of the big or small screen. The first hundred years of film have profoundly influenced our century, and this delightfully written book will give the reader a new understanding of how and why.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
French screenwriter Carriere, whose screenplays include The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Tin Drum , complains that contemporary filmmakers' pictorial vocabulary--dominated by editing, jerky action and a dizzying proliferation of shots--seems designed to prevent the audience from thinking or even seeing. In an engaging melange of recollection, shoptalk, criticism and anecdote, he exposes the tricks, illusions and cliches of modern filmmakers, explaining how the cinema has gradually dropped literary devices in exchange for purely filmic techniques. With nimble wit, Carriere reminiscences on his work with directors Jacques Tati and Luis Bunuel, offers hard-won insights to screenwriters and drops devastating asides on Casablanca (no Moroccans), television, the U.S. audiovisual industry's growing global monopoly on movies and TV that is slowly annihilating local production. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The president of France's only film school and screenwriter for some of Europe's finest directors, Carrire offers a lively, anecdotal discussion of some of the unique qualities of film. Not surprisingly, one section of the book is about writing for the movies; here, Carrire persuasively argues that the best screenplay is invisible in the finished film. In the longest section, Carrire considers how viewers derive meaning from the sequence of scenes in a movie. He explains how the filmmaker can change that meaning through the various techniques that make up the vocabulary of film, and he explores his particular interest in the evolution of that vocabulary. There are also thoughts on how time is uniquely altered in movies and how film, often considered the most realistic of the arts, is actually the most illusionary. Light yet philosophical in tone, this work is recommended for advanced film collections.-Marianne Cawley, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Benjamin Segedin
Cinema is a language that has to be learned to be read. Early in this century in Spain and up into the 1950s in Africa, it was not uncommon for a man with a long pointer to pick out characters on the screen and explain to the viewing audience what was going on. As a language, film has a vocabulary made up of close-ups, establishing shots, reverse shots, background music, lighting, and editing. As a living language, cinema must evolve or die. Hence, new schools of cinema introduce radical techniques that are soon taken for granted and cease to raise eyebrows. Veteran screenwriter Carriere has worked extensively with such great filmmakers as Jacques Tati and Luis Bunuel and here speaks from his years of experience, sharing anecdotes and impressions on the nature of cinema. Occasionally illuminating, though sometimes rambling, his book expounds on the art of screenplay writing and, in a discussion of authorship in film, defends the screenwriter's role. A welcome addition to any film studies collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679421160
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/20/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 224

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
A Few Words About a Language 7
Reality in Flight 47
Time Dissected 105
The Vanishing Screenplay 147
Trims 189
The Fog of Images 219
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