Richard Gilman referred to How to Read a Film as simply "the best single work of its kind." And Janet Maslin in The New York Times Book Review marveled at James Monaco's ability to collect "an enormous amount of useful information and assemble it in an exhilaratingly simple and systematic way." Indeed, since its original publication in 1977, this hugely popular book has become the definitive source on film and media.
Now, James Monaco offers a special anniversary edition of his classic work, featuring a new preface and several new sections, including an "Essential Library: One Hundred Books About Film and Media You Should Read" and "One Hundred Films You Should See." As in previous editions, Monaco once again looks at film from many vantage points, as both art and craft, sensibility and science, tradition and technology. After examining film's close relation to other narrative media such as the novel, painting, photography, television, and even music, the book discusses the elements necessary to understand how films convey meaning, and, more importantly, how we can best discern all that a film is attempting to communicate. In addition, Monaco stresses the still-evolving digital context of film throughout--one of the new sections looks at the untrustworthy nature of digital images and sound--and his chapter on multimedia brings media criticism into the twenty-first century with a thorough discussion of topics like virtual reality, cyberspace, and the proximity of both to film.
With hundreds of illustrative black-and-white film stills and diagrams, How to Read a Film is an indispensable addition to the library of everyone who loves the cinema and wants to understand it better.
By Samuel Chell - January 15, 2003
While not as concentrated, pragmatic, or reader-friendly as the title might suggest, Monaco's book is still the best comprehensive one-volume introduction to the aesthetics, politics, economics, theory, phenomenology, and industry of film. It's best seen as complementary to more basic introductory texts and detailed histories. Readers with a theoretical bent are most likely to appreciate its unique strengths.
The lucid must read for film theory students
By Vinay Varma "VinVar" - September 23, 2005
This book is the most lucid textbook on film theory. While there are many other written textbooks on film theory, I have found the few other textbooks that I encountered either full of trivia or too watered down or almost like commentaries rather than text books.
This book examines cinema from the technical, evolutionary and cultural perspectives and also gives the most lucid exposition of the work of various film theorists like Metz, Mitry, Eisentein, Kracauer, Wollen and others.
Particularly relevant are the explanations of differences between montage and mise en scene approaches, types of montage and grand syntagmas of cinema (cinematic grammars).
It also sounds and reads like a deft synthesis of all that can be said about cinema rather than as a loosely strung collection of information that students might seek.
It also contains one of the most comprehensive and relevant bibliographies on film theory.
An enlightening text which has stood the test of time.
By Opinioned Not Opinionated - September 13, 2010
Monaco's How To Read A Film is a triumph in bringing together a very wide range of theoretical, social, aesthetic, political, economic, historical, and technical information and ideas about film. In the newer editions, he has also addressed the broader range of media in general. It has been considered the "bible" by many on film history and theory for three decades. As a young film student 25 years ago, this was a required text for me then and still is today in many important schools. I learned so much from it then, and amazingly, continue to take away insights which inform my own film-making even today.
Some of the comments from other reviewers here are a bit baffling, to be frank. I don't find his writing style to be irritating at all; just the opposite! I feel that one of Monaco's real strengths is his style; he deals with what could easily be rather dry material in a way that has me unable to turn the pages fast enough! He always keeps the subject very interesting and... read more
Churches and cathedrals were originally built to be read. They are alive with images and symbols--all of which are packed with meaning. But today few people, from regular visitors to tourists, truly ...
Book/Lesson # 5: "Anunnaki Ulema Baaniradu: How to Acquire a Healing Touch'. Lesson and Technique. Maximillien de Lafayette wrote a book titled "Book of Ramadosh", which contained 13 Anunnaki-Ulema ...
So you want to be a film critic and review movies for a living? Veteran film critic Christopher Null teaches you, step by step, how to break into the business with the lessons he's learned from more ...
In this work, Trisha Greenhalgh provides the basics of evidence based medicine: how to find a medical research paper, assess it for its scientific validity, and where relevant, put the findings into ...