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Closely Watched Films

An Introduction to the Art of Narrative Film Technique, Tenth Anniversary Edition

Marilyn Fabe (Author)


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How do films work? How do they tell a story? How do they move us and make us think? Through detailed examinations of passages from classic films, Marilyn Fabe supplies the analytic tools and background in film history and theory to enable us to see more in every film we watch. Ranging from D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation to James Cameron’s Avatar, and ending with an epilogue on digital media, Closely Watched Films focuses on exemplary works of fourteen film directors whose careers together span the history of the narrative film. Lively and down-to-earth, this concise introduction provides a broad, complete, and yet specific picture of visual narrative techniques that will increase readers' excitement about and knowledge of the possibilities of the film medium.

Shot-by-shot analyses of short passages from each film ground theory in concrete examples. Fabe includes original and well-informed discussions of Soviet montage, realism and expressionism in film form, classical and modern sound theory, the classic Hollywood film, Italian neorealism, the French New Wave, auteur theory, modernism and postmodernism in film, political cinema, feminist film theory and practice, and narrative experiments in new digital media. Encompassing the earliest silent films as well as those that exploit the most recent technological innovations, this book gives us the particulars of how film—arguably the most influential of contemporary forms of representation—constitutes our pleasure, influences our thoughts, and informs our daily reality. Updated to include a discussion of 3-D and advanced special effects, this tenth anniversary edition is an essential film studies text for students and professors alike.
List of Illustrations

1 The Beginnings of Film Narrative: D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
2 The Art of Montage: Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin
3 Expressionism and Realism in Film Form: F. W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh and Charles Chaplin’s The Adventurer
4 The Conversion to Sound and the Classical Hollywood Film: Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday
5 Expressive Realism: Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane
6 Italian Neorealism: Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief
7 Auteur Theory and the French New Wave: Franc¸ois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows
8 Hollywood Auteur: Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious
9 The European Art Film: Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2
10 Film and Postmodernism: Woody Allen’s Annie Hall
11 Political Cinema: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing
12 Feminism and Film Form: Patricia Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
13 Digital Video and New Forms of Narrative: Mike Figgis’s Timecode and James Cameron’s Avatar

Marilyn Fabe is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Film and Media at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Closely Watched Films fills a real need, educating the literate moviegoer to gain an awareness of how film works. Writing in a clear prose that is nevertheless based on a complex awareness of film history, criticism, and technique, Fabe takes us through the diverse film strategies of exemplary classic directors who have significantly shaped the history of film and made it into a potent cultural force. At the same time, she provocatively elaborates the political and aesthetic concerns of a number of contemporary films to indicate the new directions in today's motion pictures."—Claire Kahane, author of Passions of the Voice: Hysteria, Narrative, and the Figure of the Speaking Woman, 1850-1915

"In Closely Watched Films, revered film teacher Marilyn Fabe brings to life on the page the many lessons proffered in her legendary courses at the University of California, Berkeley, in which she has taught successive generations of film students the art and the magic of film."—Linda Williams, Professor, Department of Film & Media, University of California, Berkeley

"I am deeply impressed by this book and in awe of its scope. It imparts its wisdom about film with such seeming effortlessness, illuminating the ways that films work. Closely Watched Films is very lucidly and smoothly crafted, and Fabe writes with astonishing ease about a group of very complex and heterogeneous films. It is an extremely informed book and an extraordinary achievement."—Madelon Sprengnether, author of Crying at the Movies

"This text fills a real niche—the scholarship is superior, and Fabe approaches her material in an original and stimulating manner. The writing is fluid and down to earth yet also addresses relevant issues."—Tim Shively, De Anza College

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