In the fall of 1957 the University of California Press expanded Arnheim’s 1933 book Film by four essays and brought that landmark work back into print as Film as Art. Now nearly fifty years after that re-edition, the book continues to occupy an important place in the literature of film. Arnheim’s method, provocative in this age of technological wizardry, was to focus on the way art in film was derived from that medium’s early limitations: no sound, no color, no three-dimensional depth.
Rudolf Arnheim is Professor Emeritus of the Psychology of Art at Harvard University. His books include Visual Thinking (UC Press, 1969, 2004) and Art and Visual Perception (UC Press, 1954, 1974, 2004).
“More than half a century since its initial publication, this deceptively compact book remains among the most incisive analyses of the formal and perceptual dynamics of cinema. No one who cares about film can afford to remain ignorant of its insights and wisdom. As digital technology fundamentally alters motion pictures, the lessons of Film as Art commend themselves as excellent insurance against reinventing the wheel in the new media landscape and hailing it as progress.”—Edward Dimendberg author of Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity
“After more than eight decades, Rudolph Arnheim's small book of film theory remains one of the essential works in defining film art, understanding film less as reproducing the world than as opening up new possibilities for formal play and unexpected imagery. Anyone serious about film, whether scholar, filmmaker or simply a lover of cinema, must take Arnheim seriously.”—Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang and D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film
“An aesthetic theory based on the formal ‘limitations’ of the medium, Arnheim’s Film as Art always provokes students in an age of few limits and less formality, and they argue and engage this classic text with unparalleled passion. Written in the wake of sound’s transformation of the cinema, Arnheim’s essays are not only central to understanding a major historical moment in theoretical debates about what constitutes the ‘essence’ of film, but also are a must read for anyone seeking a lucid, detailed, and rigorous argument about how works of art emerge from expressive constraint as much as expressive freedom.”—Vivian Sobchack, author of Carnal Thoughts