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Though movies have remained our foremost cultural pastime for over 100 years, many of us still know very little about the tools used to create them. In this groundbreaking new book, Vincent LoBrutto provides an enjoyable and accessible education in the art of cinema: using 50 landmark films spanning the history of the medium, LoBrutto illustrates such important concepts as editing, production design, cinematography, sound, screen acting, narrative structure, and various genres, nationalities, and film eras. Each concept is illustrated by the selection of a film that epitomizes its use, so that readers will learn about film authorship in Citizen Kane, multi-plot narrative in Nashville, widescreen filmmaking in Rebel without a Cause, and screen violence in The Wild Bunch. Providing a unique opportunity to become acquainted with important movies and the elements of their greatness, Becoming Film Literate offers a crash course in cinema, one designed to give even the novice reader a solid introduction to this complex and multifaceted medium.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Non-Linear Storytelling: Amores Perros Transformation of the American Comedy: Annie Hall Tableau Narrative Structure and Sound Design: Apocalypse Now The Body as Cinematic Landscape: L'Avventura Editing: Russian Montage: The Battleship Potemkin Italian Neorealism: The Bicycle Thief Production Design: Blade Runner Dream State: Blue Velvet The Period Film as Mirror for the Present: Bonnie and Clyde Expressionism in Cinema: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Classical Hollywood Film Style: Cassablanca Surrealism in Cinema: Un Chien Andalou The Authorial Voice: Citizen Kane Shot Structure: The Crowd Thematic Unity: The Decalogue Mythopoetic Film: Dog Star Man Political Objectives through Cinematic Storytelling: Do the Right Thing Film Noir: Double Idemnity The Personal Film: 8 1/2 Animation and Music: Fantasia An American Musical: 42nd Street New York Filmmaking: The French Connection Period Comedy: The General Parallel Storytelling: Intolerance French New Wave: Jules and Jim The Epic: Lawrence of Arabia The Political Thriller: The Manchurian Candidate Self-Referential Cinema: Man with the Movie Camera Architecture in Production Design: Metropolis Roots of Documentary Film: Nanook of the North Multiplot, Multicharacter Narrative: Nashville Method Acting: On the Waterfront The Close Up: The Passion of Joan of Arc Dark Side of American Cinema: Psycho Subtext in Personal Expression: Raging Bull Multiple Point-of-View Narrative: Rashomon Widescreen Filmmaking: Rebel without a Cause Camera Movement as Metaphor: LaRonde Mise-en-Scene: Rules of the Game Direct Cinema: Salesman The Freudian Western: The Searchers Defining Theme, Metaphor, and Character through Color, Texture, and Environmental Design: Se7en Symbolism in the Cinema: The Seventh Seal Art of the B-Movie: Shock Corridor Digital Filmmaking: Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones Birth of a Nonfiction Film Style: The Thin Blue Line Experimental Narrative: 2001: A Space Odyssey The Essay Film: Weekend Screen Violence as Metaphor: The Wild Bunch Independent Filmmaking: A Woman Under the Influence Glossary Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

"Vincent LoBrutto, already distinguished as an oral historian and biographer, has now written a book that for students and professors alike should become a definitive guide to film appreciation. Becoming Film Literate, shrewdly structured as a series of thoughtful essays on favorite works, is at once a primer and a master class for anyone aspiring to become a film know-it-all." -- Patrick McGilligan, author of Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light "By embracing a range of filmmakers from Dreyer to Brakhage, LoBrutto's survey contributes to the argument that creating canons is one of the most vital tasks in today's world cinephilia." -- Robert Koehler, film critic (Variety, CinemaScope magazine)

About the Author

Vincent Lobrutto has been involved in film editing for over twelve years. His film credits include a television series for the Fox Network, as well as several projects for HBO Cable Network.


"This book has merit as an introduction to the science and language of cinema." - "To introduce students to the basic tools of cinema, LoBrutto (editing, production design and cinema studies, School of Visual Arts) uses 50 landmark films as illustrations of concepts such as production design, cinematography, sound, narrative structure and genres. Readers learn about film authorship, for example, in a discussion of Citizen Kane and multiplot narrative in a chapter on Nashville. LoBrutto includes a glossary and suggestions for further viewing or reading." - Reference & Research Book News/Art Book News Annual

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