In good form

31st May 1996 at 01:00
AN INTRODUCTION TO FILM STUDIES Edited by Jill Nelmes Routledge Pounds 16.99 Age range: 16-19

This book fulfils the long-time need for an accessible and comprehensive introduction to film studies for schools and colleges; a book which reflects the issues, theories and body of knowledge which constitute the subject as it is taught today.

An Introduction to Film Studies examines not only film form, but looks at the way form is inextricably bound up with the history of the cinema and its emergence as an institution. While the book operates on the premise that film studies is a discrete academic area, it will also be of use to teachers and students in the related fields of media, communications and cultural studies. Its contents reflect the demands of A-level film studies, but will also be of value to those undertaking film courses at undergraduate level.

The book has five major sections dealing with institutions and technology, film form and approaches to study, realism and illusion, representations of gender and sexuality and national cinemas.

It has been written by a team of practising teachers which is reflected in the sensible and straightforward styles. They make much use of case studies to back up their general and theoretical points. For example, the section devoted to film form and narrative includes case studies from Buster Keaton's The General and Paul Verhoeven's Robocop, while the section on representations of gender and sexuality includes close studies of Marleen Gorris's A Question of Silence and Sally Potter's The Gold Diggers as well as a consideration of films on gay and lesbian themes.

The layout seems at first somewhat eccentric with margins taking up a third of the page. However, these are often used to explain unfamiliar or specialist words, although there is also a glossary of key terms and the book is well illustrated with stills linked closely to the text.

The book's strength lies in its placing of film within a contemporary framework. It shows how cinema and technology have been inseparable from film's beginnings, addresses the social, economic and cultural implications of cinema and looks to the future with sections on computer-generated imagery and virtual reality.

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