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|John Libbey Publishing|
The essays in this anthology provide a comprehensive portrait of widescreen cinema as an aesthetic and industrial phenomenon from the vantage point of twenty-first-century film studies.
Publication date: 2010
Total pages: 245
ISBN: 9780 86196 694
Price: £ 25.00
The essays in this anthology provide a comprehensive portrait of
widescreen cinema as an aesthetic and industrial phenomenon from the
vantage point of twenty-first-century film studies. They build on
earlier work, including Charles Barr’s landmark 1963 essay on
aesthetics, “CinemaScope: Before and After” and The
Velvet Light Trap’s seminal 1985 issue on Widescreen with essays on
widescreen aesthetics, economics, and ideology. But they also
incorporate recent advances made in the field of film studies, ranging
from revisionist approaches to film historiography to new techniques
implemented in performing close textual analysis whereby the textual
analysis is firmly rooted in the realities of shooting and production
practices, producing readings that are informed by a technical grasp of
Widescreen Worldwide takes as its chief focus the aesthetics of
widescreen filmmaking, while situating these aesthetics within the
larger cultural and industrial practices that inform them. Most
importantly, it considers these practices in a global context. What
Hollywood sought to market around the world in the form of CinemaScope,
SuperScope, Techniscope, Technirama and Panavision took indigenous form
in a host of compatible anamorphic formats developed in France
(Franscope, Dyaliscope), Italy (Ultrascope), Russia (Sovscope), Japan
(Tohoscope, DaieiScope, Nikkatuscope), Norway (Norwayscope), Britain
(Hammerscope), and elsewhere. The book documents how the aesthetic
strategies explored during the first wave of American widescreen films
underwent revision in Europe and Asia as filmmakers brought their own
idiolect to the language of widescreen mise-en-scène, editing, and sound
practices. As a global phenomenon, widescreen cinema thus presents the
opportunity to examine how different cultures appropriate the technology
to advance extremely different cultural and aesthetic agendas.
These essays also explore the pioneering work of some of the world’s
greatest directors, including Otto Preminger, Anthony Mann, Samuel
Fuller, Sam Peckinpah, Seijun Suzuki, Kihachi Okamoto, Tai Kato, and
others. They also chart the global flow of widescreen technologies and
aesthetics as the widescreen revolution transformed the face of world
cinema in the latter half of the twentieth century and make a powerful
case for the indebtedness of contemporary filmmaking practices to the
innovations and discoveries of this earlier generation of filmmakers.
The contributors to Widescreen Worldwide are John Belton, David Bordwell, Steve Chibnall, Eric Crosby, Lisa Dombrowski, John Gibbs, Kathrina Glitre, Sheldon Hall, Paul McDonald, Steve Neale, Douglas Pye, Tom Vincent and Federico Vitella.
Widescreen Worldwide is an informative anthology that presents some excellent examples of how film history is enriched by seeking answers to particular questions. Many of the authors demonstrate that widescreen remains a fascinating topic because it raises numerous questions that touch on the technical, industrial, economic, aesthetic and ideological aspects of film as a cultural practice. While the book is concerned specifically with widescreen filmmaking, it demonstrates how focussing on even a limited aspect of film history forces historians to consider a range of factors that have shaped film history since the middle of last century. This book is a significant contribution to film history not only because of the information contained in it, but also because the chapters demonstrate different approaches to understanding a period of rapid technological change in the middle of the 20th century that offer ways of understanding changes to screen media that are occurring now.
by Simon Howson in Sense of Cinema issue 60.
2. History, Technology and Innovation
John Belton (Rutgers University), “Fox and 50mm Film”
3. Textual Analysis, Aesthetics and Film Form
Lisa Dombrowski (Wesleyan University), “Cheap but Wide: The Stylistic
Exploitation of CinemaScope Aesthetics in Black-and-white Low-Budget
4. Themes and Formats
Sheldon Hall (Sheffield Hallam University), “Alternative Versions in the
Early Years of CinemaScope”
5. Widescreen Worldwide
Steve Chibnall (de Monfort University), “The Scope of Their Ambition:
British Independent Film Production and Widescreen Formats in the 1950s”
John Belton teaches film at Rutgers University and is the author
of Widescreen Cinema (1992).
Sheldon Hall is a Senior Lecturer in Stage and Screen at
Sheffield Hallam University, UK.
Steve Neale is Professor of Film Studies at Exeter University.