So if I don't watch movies, I read about movies and the latest book on this subject is Film by Ronald Bergan. Let alone the appealing topic, I was drawn to the book by the ''oh so memorable'' cover, showing Mrs. Robinson's sexy leg, in black stocking and Benjamin Braddock's aka Dustin Hoffman lost gaze. Now, how yummy is that? It is one of the best books on movies I have ever read from a historical point of view. A room on the top of the largest entertainment industry, illustrated with great pictures of sensational movies, Film by Ronald Bergan, is a must for every respectable cinephile.
The book is divided into interesting chapters on the story of the seventh art, on how movies are made, detailing on movie genres, the contribution to the world cinematography of each European country and not only, the most outstanding directors of all times and, finally, the best 100 top movies. From a historical point of view, the evolution of cinema is presented by decade, with the most representative events or movies that defined that specific period of time, even the box office hits of the time. It is not only a historical approach but also an illustration of the social and cultural changes that concurred. My favourite decade is, by all means, The Roaring Twenties- an effervescent time when the radio was invented, the movies turned from silent to talkies, when jazz journalism was born, when the bob haircut and the charleston were the kings of fad. The advent of sound was both a bless and a curse since famous actors that made their name in the silent era had to overcome their fear or lack of voice and go talkies. Back to the teasing cover of the book, I remember being totally smitten by The Graduate not only due to the great performances, but also because of Simon & Garfunkel's song, Mrs. Robinson, which marked the beginning of the trend for pop-song soundtracks for the movies.
Growing up on the movies of the 80s left a strong impression on me. It was the time when movies went big, lush, adventurous, magnificent. Movies had it all: romance, science-fiction, fantasy, action, adventure. The studios were big and strong and certain directors -Steven Spielberg- came to be known as the men with the Midas touch. Top Gun, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Batman, Back to the Future were among the movies I grew up on, when going to the cinema was the peak of the week and when my passion for movies turned into addiction. Addiction got nurtured by the success of the videotapes and cheap renting houses when Class of 1999 was among those unexpected B category movies of the beginning of the 90s that turned cinema into second option.
The new indies from the 90s turned out to be the way up to maturing my tastes and directors such as Quentin Tarantino, the Cohen brothers, Cuaron, Kieslovski began making a style of their own that exulted originality and spunk. From movie pitch -illustrated as an important stage in the process of creating movies- as described in Altman's The Player to post-production, the entire process is fascinating. The World Cinema chapter of the book is excellent in emphasising the most remarkable creations of the seventh art, a guide to the movies that must be seen and never forgotten. Romania is shortly mentioned as the country that made 15 movies per year since the 1960s -I wonder- among which the best-known were Liviu Ciulei's Forest of the Hanged and Lucian Pintilie's Sunday at Six.
The world's best directors of all time are then shortly presented in terms of personal style, themes, movies and artistic credo. The best 100 movies of all times are masterpieces at international level, movies from all ages and times that left their mark on the history of humanity. And if you want to make sure you haven't missed important stuff, check the list of winners of the world's most prestigious film festivals. An unmissable book!