The Story of Film: An Odyssey – Episodes 1&2

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storyoffilm5If there is one thing I have to say after seeing the first two hours of , its that I was anxious for it to continue once it was over.  In fact, I would probably be open to a marathon screening of all 15 hours if it wasn't for the fact that it would be next to impossible to do in one sitting (unless you give up thinks like eating and sleeping).  The Story of Film is obviously aiming to be the definitive, scholarly look into film as an art form.  In some ways, the documentary is almost like a series of film school classes.  Here are my thoughts on the first two episodes. Episode 1: The Birth of Cinema
This episode is all about the early pioneers of cinema, such as Thomas Edison, The Lumiere Brothers, and Georges Méliès.  We are shown clips from the films of this area, as well the actual locations where they were originally shot.  This episode goes into the many innovations that were developed, such as close-ups, editing, and the 180 degree rule.  The advantage of being given a whole hour to discuss early cinema, allows some little-known information to be stated.  For instance, the film name-checked an actress named Florence Lawrence, who is credited as being “The First Movie Star.”  I should also note that in addition to clips of early films, we are also shown clips of films that were inspired by these films. Episode 2: The Hollywood Dream
The second episode focuses on the rise of the studio system in Hollywood.  There is particular focus in silent comedies and the films of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.  However, the episode also goes into films that were against the “glitzy” Hollywood model and were more rooted in realism.  These included Robert Flaherty's early documentary Nanook of the North, Erich von Stroheim's seven hour epic Greed, and Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. These first two episodes barely scratch the surface of the history of cinema and I am excited to see what's included in the remaining thirteen.  I'm going to refrain on rating The Story of Film until I've seen all fifteen episodes, at which time I will summarize my whole experience.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.