Reading the Silver Screen: A Film Lover's Guide to Decoding the Art Form That Moves

Reading the Silver Screen: A Film Lover's Guide to Decoding the Art Form That Moves

by Thomas C. Foster


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From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes an indispensable analysis of our most celebrated medium, film.

No art form is as instantly and continuously gratifying as film. When the house lights go down and the lion roars, we settle in to be shocked, frightened, elated, moved, and thrilled. We expect magic. While we’re being exhilarated and terrified, our minds are also processing data of all sorts—visual, linguistic, auditory, spatial—to collaborate in the construction of meaning.

Thomas C. Foster’s Reading the Silver Screen will show movie buffs, students of film, and even aspiring screenwriters and directors how to transition from merely being viewers to becoming accomplished readers of this great medium. Beginning with the grammar of film, Foster demonstrates how every art form has a grammar, a set of practices and if-then propositions that amount to rules. He goes on to explain how the language of film enables movies to communicate the purpose behind their stories and the messages they are striving to convey to audiences by following and occasionally breaking these rules.

Using the investigative approach readers love in How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Foster examines this grammar of film through various classic and current movies both foreign and domestic, with special recourse to the “AFI 100 Years-100 Movies” lists. The categories are idiosyncratic yet revealing.

In Reading the Silver Screen, readers will gain the expertise and confidence to glean all they can from the movies they love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062113399
Publisher: HarperCollins US
Publication date: 09/13/2016
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 289,171
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor and Reading the Silver Screen, is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Flint, where he taught classes in contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry, as well as creative writing and freelance writing. He is also the author of several books on 20th-century British and Irish literature and poetry.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface: After the Credits Roll xiii

Introduction: A Language All Its Own xxv

1 Seeing Is Believing 1

2 The Camera Does the Thinking for Us 14

3 Shot, Scene, Sequence! 32

4 Silence Is Golden 52

5 In Between the Dark and the Light 63

6 Image Is Everything 73

7 Near and Far 89

8 Art Without Color 102

9 What Happens During Popcorn Time 115

10 Whose Story Is It? And What's His Story? 127

Interlude: 30-60-30-Hike! 144

11 How Many Heads-and Where Are They? 151

12 In the Frame 165

13 Highly Generic 182

14 Novels into Films 207

15 Movie Magic 227

16 You Can't Step into the Same Movie Twice 247

17 Listen to the Music 263

Homework Assignment (A Very Short Interruption) 275

18 Figuratively Speaking 277

19 Masters of All That They Survey 294

20 Put It to the Test 311

Conclusion: Be an Auteur 329

Appendix: Cinematic Exercises, or Fun with Movie Stuff 337

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