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A visual guide to the history of cinema In Filmish, cartoonist Edward Ross takes us on an exhilarating ride through the history of cinema, using comics to uncover the magic and mechanics behind our favourite movies. Exploring everything from censorship to set design, Ross spotlights the films and film-makers that embody this provocative and inventive medium, from the pi A visual guide to the history of cinema In Filmish, cartoonist Edward Ross takes us on an exhilarating ride through the history of cinema, using comics to uncover the magic and mechanics behind our favourite movies. Exploring everything from censorship to set design, Ross spotlights the films and film-makers that embody this provocative and inventive medium, from the pioneers of early cinema to the innovators shaping the movies of today, from A Trip to the Moon to Inception and beyond. A witty and insightful reflection on the enduring power of the cinema, Filmish is a lucid and lively guide to the stars and stories that have shaped our lives for more than a century.“[Filmish] leaves you with a long list of pictures you will want either to revisit, or to see for the first time... Just what the projectionist ordered.” – The Observer“Entertaining, informative and thought-provoking” – The Quietus


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A visual guide to the history of cinema In Filmish, cartoonist Edward Ross takes us on an exhilarating ride through the history of cinema, using comics to uncover the magic and mechanics behind our favourite movies. Exploring everything from censorship to set design, Ross spotlights the films and film-makers that embody this provocative and inventive medium, from the pi A visual guide to the history of cinema In Filmish, cartoonist Edward Ross takes us on an exhilarating ride through the history of cinema, using comics to uncover the magic and mechanics behind our favourite movies. Exploring everything from censorship to set design, Ross spotlights the films and film-makers that embody this provocative and inventive medium, from the pioneers of early cinema to the innovators shaping the movies of today, from A Trip to the Moon to Inception and beyond. A witty and insightful reflection on the enduring power of the cinema, Filmish is a lucid and lively guide to the stars and stories that have shaped our lives for more than a century.“[Filmish] leaves you with a long list of pictures you will want either to revisit, or to see for the first time... Just what the projectionist ordered.” – The Observer“Entertaining, informative and thought-provoking” – The Quietus

30 review for Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film (Non-Fiction - SelfMadeHero)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    In this graphic form, Ross introduces film theory and history through seven different lenses (🤓), or graphic essays: The Eye, The Body, Sets and Architecture, Time, Voice and Language, Power and Ideology, and Technology and Technophobia. Each graphic essay is *full* of detail and film references, from every genre. Special focus on visual storytelling techniques, the use of time, space, visual markers, and thematic and comprehensive notes to "cue" the viewer what is happening in screen. In this ag In this graphic form, Ross introduces film theory and history through seven different lenses (🤓), or graphic essays: The Eye, The Body, Sets and Architecture, Time, Voice and Language, Power and Ideology, and Technology and Technophobia. Each graphic essay is *full* of detail and film references, from every genre. Special focus on visual storytelling techniques, the use of time, space, visual markers, and thematic and comprehensive notes to "cue" the viewer what is happening in screen. In this age of "Peak Television" where many of the best serial television and streaming shows have the same writers and budgets as films, there is a lot of crossover for the big and small screen. The narration and style reminded me of another graphic history that I really enjoyed a few years back, Out on the Wire: Uncovering the Secrets of Radio's New Masters of Story with Ira Glass, with the author/illustrator serving as guide through history or the process. So glad to see more offerings of this type - solid enough for a textbook, but very readable. For the lit and film crit crowd, as well as those that are into graphic storytelling! 🔍 And you better believe I was LOVING the 20 pages of endnotes and bibliography at the end!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    Imagine taking a film class by graphic novel. That would be the perfect conceit for Filmish by Edward Ross. Ross builds a de facto history of cinema via the cinematic lexicon of: eye, body, space, time, voice and language, power and ideology, and technology and technophobia. His examples of the uses of each of these areas are useful, but it seems as if his writing style is similar to that of a college student who over-annotates and, at the same time, relies too strongly on a few sources [This is Imagine taking a film class by graphic novel. That would be the perfect conceit for Filmish by Edward Ross. Ross builds a de facto history of cinema via the cinematic lexicon of: eye, body, space, time, voice and language, power and ideology, and technology and technophobia. His examples of the uses of each of these areas are useful, but it seems as if his writing style is similar to that of a college student who over-annotates and, at the same time, relies too strongly on a few sources [This is particularly visible in the first two chapters which repetitively use a book by Laura Mulvey cited on pp. 17, 19, 20, 22, 28, 33, 42, and 54, as well as another by Francesco Casetti cited on pp. 9, 13, .28, and 29.] Another problem is that both Ross and his sources seem to look for discrimination at every turn. For example, p. 137 reads: “In The Jungle Book (1967), racist dehumanization manifests literally in the orang-utan King Louie, whose African-American-sounding voice sings about wanting to be ‘human, too.’” But Louie Prima, the actual voice of King Louie, was Italian-American. If there was anything African-American about the performance, it was the influence of another Louie, Louie Armstrong, which is heard in Prima’s gravelly voice and trumpet-playing years. One page earlier, Ross suggested that Belle of Beauty & the Beast was a typical Disney princess, needing to be rescued and longing for marriage (p. 136). But, Belle is something of the village’s intellectual, always reading books, and she spurns the “prize catch” of stereotypical manhood early in the film. Similar problems appear when Ross criticizes Hollywood for letting the military review scripts before the military commits equipment and personnel to assist in a film (p. 142). Horrors! The next thing you know, Disney-Lucasfilm would want to review every action figure or toy manufactured by Hasbro, every article printed in Star Wars Insider, and every collectible manufactured to look like a light saber or a Darth Vader helmet. Oh, wait! Disney-Lucasfilm does require that review, as did Warner Brothers over all Harry Potter merchandise and Looney Tunes merchandise. Then, after talking about the insidious power of media to sanitize criticism of those in power or support some establishment agenda from pp. 131-148, Ross reverses direction when he writes about censorship and fervently states that any relationship between media violence and real-world violence is unfounded (p. 149). He does back off any causal connection on p. 150, but still asserts that film and media contribute to Islamophobia, homophobia, and genocide. Hmm! Like it both ways much? Similarly, in the final chapter, Ross cites a source as stating that H. G. Wells’ fascination with a ruling intellectual elite (remind anyone of Plato’s “philosopher kings?”) and the utopian possibilities of technology are a thinly veiled advertisement for fascism (p. 150). That would be startling news to the author of The Time Machine where the power of technology runs amok in a dark future full of Morlocks or that same author who gives humankind a warning about the abuse of technology driving one insane (The Invisible Man). So, despite clever comic art representations of famous scenes from famous films and despite a useful and attractive bibliography, Filmish was not the joy I thought it would be. It is more about ideology than cinematography.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    This plays out like a short introductory college course on film history and film theory, with the lecturer and his PowerPoint presentation adapted to graphic novel form and each section of the book coming off as a separate class session. There is nothing in-depth here, but it is a decent overview. I have a quibble that as an artist Ross can barely pull off the likeness of the celebrities and actors around whom the book revolves. Fortunately, he provides endnotes that include identifications of mo This plays out like a short introductory college course on film history and film theory, with the lecturer and his PowerPoint presentation adapted to graphic novel form and each section of the book coming off as a separate class session. There is nothing in-depth here, but it is a decent overview. I have a quibble that as an artist Ross can barely pull off the likeness of the celebrities and actors around whom the book revolves. Fortunately, he provides endnotes that include identifications of most of the people portrayed in the artwork. On a broader note, the book highlights a sort of catch-22. By justly disparaging the dominance of white males in the film industry throughout its history and drawing attention to underrepresented peoples here and there throughout the book, Ross made me conscious of how many of his examples for film concepts then do come from movies made by white males. I'm not shaming or blaming, but instead wondering how inclusivity effects how histories and analyses of this nature can be balanced when dealing with times that were so unbalanced.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suad Shamma

    This was a fantastic journey through film divided into 7 chapters exploring the following aspects of film: The Eye; The Body; Sets & Architecture; Time; Voice & Language; Power & Ideology; Technology & Technophobia. I've always been interested in film history and the art of film making and cinema, and this was indeed enlightening and quite educational as well. The graphics are beautiful, and I loved the different illustrations of films and characters that we've known and seen our whole lives and This was a fantastic journey through film divided into 7 chapters exploring the following aspects of film: The Eye; The Body; Sets & Architecture; Time; Voice & Language; Power & Ideology; Technology & Technophobia. I've always been interested in film history and the art of film making and cinema, and this was indeed enlightening and quite educational as well. The graphics are beautiful, and I loved the different illustrations of films and characters that we've known and seen our whole lives and are instantly recognizable. I loved how he took different films and studied them, not only mentioning them once, but mentioning them again whenever it applied throughout the different chapters. Films like The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jurassic Park and A Clockwork Orange and King Kong and Die Hard and The Matrix are just a fraction of the movies mentioned and used as examples to showcase different aspects of film making throughout history. It is very interesting, and highly entertaining, and many films I hadn't yet watched have been added to my "To Watch" list with a new outlook on how they're made. Excellent book for all lovers of film. More books like this need to be made. I would love a version of this book made about music for instance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    Edward Ross takes readers on an affectionate, intelligent tour of film history with quite a bit of analysis and cultural theory. He makes his ideological stances clear, offers up context and rhetorical questioning, also makes clear his great and nerdy love of film. While I wouldn't mind seeing a similarly themed book written by a number of people (through more than one man's eyes), and though at times it struck me as a bit dry or the atmosphere a little too controlled somehow, I enjoyed "Filmish Edward Ross takes readers on an affectionate, intelligent tour of film history with quite a bit of analysis and cultural theory. He makes his ideological stances clear, offers up context and rhetorical questioning, also makes clear his great and nerdy love of film. While I wouldn't mind seeing a similarly themed book written by a number of people (through more than one man's eyes), and though at times it struck me as a bit dry or the atmosphere a little too controlled somehow, I enjoyed "Filmish" and learned a lot from it. I've read a bit about film history and theory and am familiar with many of the ideas in here, but I loved seeing it all unfold in comic form. Ross Ross narrates in a way that reminds many readers of McCloud's book about comics. I suppose it's more McCloud than Pekar, but Ross uses the comic medium to keep the tone conversational even when it could have a more lectury feel to it, and he uses comics to clarify his analyses and to bring iconic film moments and introspective characters to life. Well, sort of. He has the characters speaking on his behalf, really, which is a little annoying and gimmicky, but still sometimes entertaining. The book is broken up into parts: The Eye, The Body, Set and Architecture, Time, Voice and Language, Power and Ideology, and Technology and Technophobia. In this way he is able to organize his exploration thematically without being confined to chronology though the still does a fine job of contextualizing some of film's transitional moments, shifting identities and influences. This would be a great book to go along with a film or media/cultural studies course. Would also be fun to make a list of films mentioned in the book and start watching them as a way to be in conversation with "Filmish" (speaking the language is half the battle?) Maybe this will open the door for conversational theoretical books on film whose scopes are smaller and whose conversations go deeper.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    This was an interesting book, an introduction to film theory in graphic novel form. Ross has a pleasant clear-line style that serves the material well. The book is divided into chapters, each dealing with a different theme--"The Eye", "The Body", "Sets and Architecture", etc. His examples are well chosen, and his footnotes at the back of the book add further details and suggest even more films for the curious. The book is, perhaps, a touch on the light side--think of it as Film Theory 101--but i This was an interesting book, an introduction to film theory in graphic novel form. Ross has a pleasant clear-line style that serves the material well. The book is divided into chapters, each dealing with a different theme--"The Eye", "The Body", "Sets and Architecture", etc. His examples are well chosen, and his footnotes at the back of the book add further details and suggest even more films for the curious. The book is, perhaps, a touch on the light side--think of it as Film Theory 101--but it's definitely an interesting read, even if you think you know the subject in detail already.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marianna Neal

    Loved the idea of exploring film history and concepts in graphic novel format! The structure is also something that I appreciated: 7 sections dealing with different aspects of cinema through specific examples from films. There is also an extensive bibliography at the end, and a list of all of the films mentioned here, which could make for a very interesting watchlist. However, I had some major issues with this book. First of all, most of the text consists of quotes from other works (listed in bi Loved the idea of exploring film history and concepts in graphic novel format! The structure is also something that I appreciated: 7 sections dealing with different aspects of cinema through specific examples from films. There is also an extensive bibliography at the end, and a list of all of the films mentioned here, which could make for a very interesting watchlist. However, I had some major issues with this book. First of all, most of the text consists of quotes from other works (listed in bibliography), which makes from very little original written content from the author. Also, he reuses the same shots throughout the book, which seems lazy. I'm not talking slightly different drawings of the same scene—the same. exact. illustrations. And they aren't spaced that far apart either, so it's very obviously repetitive. Finally, and this complaint may just be specific to cinephiles like me, none of this is very in-depth or presents a new perspective—it's a very basic, "beginner" look at the subject. This may work well for people looking to get into the art of film, but then in order to do so they will end up reading a lot of spoilers for films they haven't seen, since they're just getting into the whole thing, especially considering how much indie and arthouse examples are present here. Basically, what I'm saying is that I'm not sure who would benefit the most from this book. It's too brief and "surface" for people who have actually seen these movies and want to dig into the artistry, and a lot of the examples will be obscure for beginner film fans. Maybe, the best thing is to get through the filmography at the end first? But that would delay reading this for a WHILE.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sean Kottke

    I thought this was going to be a "Film History/Art for Beginners," in the way that Scott McCloud's non-fiction graphica explores the vocabulary of comics. Wrong! It's more like "Advanced Film Theory for Beginners," in a McCloud style. Each chapter is a graphic essay on a particular aspect of film that permeates the whole history of film, equally distributed between arthouse cinema and blockbuster Hollywood product. It seems at times that presenting this material as graphica is a labor intensive I thought this was going to be a "Film History/Art for Beginners," in the way that Scott McCloud's non-fiction graphica explores the vocabulary of comics. Wrong! It's more like "Advanced Film Theory for Beginners," in a McCloud style. Each chapter is a graphic essay on a particular aspect of film that permeates the whole history of film, equally distributed between arthouse cinema and blockbuster Hollywood product. It seems at times that presenting this material as graphica is a labor intensive way of avoiding seeking permission from the studios for reproducing images, and the work it takes to reproduce those images in graphica excuses the author from more deeply exploring the issues addressed in each chapter. Perhaps, but the claims are legit, and the films cited are good exemplars for each phenomenon explored. The endnotes provide ample references for the layperson to encounter deeper discourse.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vasilis Giannopoulos

    More than a comic, Filmish is an illustrated essay on cinema. Don't read it if you just like comics; read it if you like reading about cinema regardless of your opinion on the comic book medium. Now, if you like both comics and cinema, just as I do, then it's a must buy! The book is divided in seven chapters (the eye, the body, time, architecture and sets, voice and language, power and ideology, technology and technophobia) all dealing with how cinema has involved and how it affects human societ More than a comic, Filmish is an illustrated essay on cinema. Don't read it if you just like comics; read it if you like reading about cinema regardless of your opinion on the comic book medium. Now, if you like both comics and cinema, just as I do, then it's a must buy! The book is divided in seven chapters (the eye, the body, time, architecture and sets, voice and language, power and ideology, technology and technophobia) all dealing with how cinema has involved and how it affects human society. Although I do not agree with all the opinions expressed by Ross and he has interpreted some movies way differently than I, this book is extremely interesting and my to-see list has grown a lot. Ross's drawing is not great, not bad just not great, but serves its purpose right, it complements the text adequately. In the end of the book there are the author's notes (and there are plenty of them!) along with a detailed filmography and bibliography.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Abraxas Longley

    Disclaimer: I read this book in its Russian translation*. So perhaps some of my discontentment stems from the fact that the Russian title translates as 'How films work. Theory and History of Cinematography.' *(For this reason, my quotations from the book may not be exact.) However, I strongly believe that this book could've been called anything and my general impression would be the same. If I had to guess the title of this book based on its contents these would be my guesses: 'White Hetero Men Disclaimer: I read this book in its Russian translation*. So perhaps some of my discontentment stems from the fact that the Russian title translates as 'How films work. Theory and History of Cinematography.' *(For this reason, my quotations from the book may not be exact.) However, I strongly believe that this book could've been called anything and my general impression would be the same. If I had to guess the title of this book based on its contents these would be my guesses: 'White Hetero Men and Why They are to Blame' 'Transphobia and the Patriarchy — The USA is bad!' 'Ban muscular men from the big screen!' 'MY Political Views down YOUR gullet! Also: maybe something concerning some motion pictures I once saw.' This is not a book by a film director, writer, or even critic. In fact, I suspect as to whether it's even written by someone who loves movies. All that I /can/ say about Edward Ross, judging by this book, is that he's seen a lot of films. As to whether or not he's qualified to talk about these movies is a matter of opinion. Ross believes that Aladdin promotes hate against Arabs when all the main protagonists (Abu excluded) are of Arab descent. Ross claims that Back to the Future's view on time travel is fatalistic as opposed to Terminator's "you are the master of your own destiny" viewpoint. Back to the Future Part 3, end of the film, I quote: Jennifer Parker: Dr. Brown, I brought this note back from the future and - now it's erased. Doc: Of course it's erased! Jennifer Parker: But what does that mean? Doc: It means your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you. Marty McFly: [Marty wraps his arm around Jennifer] We will, Doc. So much for research. In the chapter 'Ideology and Power' Ross first examines how transphobia, sexism, homophobia, racism, etc. inhabit the most innocuous of films. In the same chapter, Ross talks about how violent films shouldn't be banned because the modern audience doesn't interpret everything they see at face-value. He cites facts about how children who've witnessed on-screen violence show no signs of an increased tendency for violence. The crescendo of this double-think comes at the end of the chapter: Ross states that we still can't deny the power of film, and although films can't incite violence, discrimination, islamophobia, and genocide, they play their role in forming our worldview and strengthening the status quo. So which is it? * * * I was expecting information that would help me better understand the art of motion pictures, some sort of theory that would help me understand the art of cinematography on a deeper level. Instead, this book is brimming with heavy-handed, self-contradictory and closed-minded political correctness that made me want to throw away the book on more than one occasion. Ross goes so far as to explore the topic of 'Male Objectification'. The opening quote to this line of thought is a quote from Steve Neil 'Where a woman is regarded, a man is tested.' Sure. Okay. However, the spin Ross puts on this quote, in my understanding, is that men shouldn't be tested. "The demonstration of a man's body doesn't interrupt the narrative" Well, it bloody well shouldn't, otherwise, we'd either be here all day. "[A man's body] is always shown in action, with an emphasis on physical power and dexterity." What exactly do you want?! 120 minutes of uninterrupted tea sipping and chitchat between five obese geriatrics? (More importantly, what do you think the general audience wants? Because I'm willing to bet that heroic displays of physical prowess get a lot of people excited.) "From Westerns to Superhero films, the male body takes a hit so that others do not suffer." This is heroism. Stories are about heroism. Joseph Campbell's ever-spinning corpse shall be the foundation for a perpetual motion machine that shall power the male objectification power plants of the world. * * * But I persevered, god did I persevere, in the vain hope that there would be light at the end of the tunnel, that this was all just some mad fever dream and we'd soon skip over the author's radical political views and get onto something substantive. But, in the words of Smash Mouth's 'All-Star' 'They just keep coming And they just keep coming.' Ross addresses his views on women, people of color, and all other genetically inferior individuals* that clearly can't stand up for themselves. Clearly, these sub-humans, need to be protected and victimized by the double standards of a white dude. It is without an iota of doubt that these poor, disabled people that constitute about 80% of the world's population need a strong and deceitful voice to protect them from the harms of the White Devil. (*I'm being sarcastic, don't lynch me, please.) In my opinion, the problem with Ross' political correctness is that it doesn't inhabit one chapter but permeates the whole book. It leaks into every theme, derailing whatever was being discussed into neo-Marxist, post-modernist ideas that I strongly disagree with. Ross pushes forward ideas that ride the self-righteousness of hardcore liberalism all the way to the top of the horseshoe, where it meets the fascism the book itself reviles. He's so drunk on the notion of open-mindedness and the superiority that it supposed guarantees that he's practically given himself papal infallibility. It's like Ross simultaneously wants a police state directed against the majority of the USA and a communist utopia for the minority. Ross's ethos goes against treating people differently and segregationist ideology, but he goes against his own words and treats Hollywood with a great deal more criticism than he does Nollywood. Ross briefly heaps praise on the Nigerian film industry, although I'm willing to bet that there's plenty of muscly men, objectified women, and conservative ideals. Times like these, I foster suspicions that radically left spokespeople are more racist than any centrist or conservative. Underlying Ross's treatment of women, people of colour, etc. as fragile glass objects that should only be praised is perhaps the assumption that these groups of people are somehow inferior, and are of such low status, intellect and capabilities that they cannot defend themselves or make their own case, that Nigerian film-makers are so infantile and vulnerable that even one word of criticism would be sacrilege. Conversely, by blasting so much flak at Hollywood, the subtext is that Western Culture is strong enough to take it. I may be reading too far into this, but the implications of this twisted worldview are chilling. Admittedly, there are moments of respite, when the author mentions some interesting themes worth considering. But any actual theory of deconstruction or what makes a film good* is well beyond the scope of this book. *(Though there are myriad examples of what constitutes a bad film.) At its best, this is a glorified '100 movies you should see!' list. Except half of them are brought up as examples of patriarchal Hollywood white-man evil. With all this said, I will begrudgingly admit that Ross makes some good points. The facts behind the Pentagon's subsidizing Hollywood are thought-provoking. But these aren't the kind of things I expected to read about in a book placed on the same pedestal as Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics'. I forced myself to see this book to the end because I thought it beneficial to expose myself to a worldview radically different from mine. I gave this book a fair chance, several fair chances and it never failed to disappoint. The book's saving grace is that the art is nice and clean. This does little to save the content. Final rating: 1 star. Avoid. Addendum: I apologise to Edward Ross if my review seems antagonistic or hateful. I bear the author no ill-will. It's my understanding that a lot of work went into this, as with any work of literature. Ross has a right to his opinion and, likewise, I have a right to mine. The crux of the problem is that I spent 19 dollars and several hours on this book and the end result was strongly unenjoyable. I see that a lot of other readers really enjoyed this book and more power to them. Explained above is my experience with this book, my opinion of it and the reasons for which it is largely negative. If you're short on time and my reasoning seems fair, avoid this book. If it seems that I've made a poor case of my opinion, who am I to stop you? Edit (later today): I've just started reading Jordan Peterson's '12 Rules...' in which I found this quote that perfectly encapsulates my experience with 'Filmish': “And so we arrive at the second teaching that millennials have been bombarded with. They sign up for a humanities course, to study greatest books ever written. But they’re not assigned the books; instead they are given ideological attacks on them, based on some appalling simplification. Where the relativist is filled with uncertainty, the ideologue is the very opposite. He or she is hyper-judgmental and censorious, always knows what’s wrong about others, and what to do about it. Sometimes it seems the only people willing to give advice in a relativistic society are those with the least to offer.”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    Star rating: 2.5 Filmish is an introductory text on film studies, so if you want a very broad, but shallow overview, this book will probably fill your needs. However, despite not being much of a film studies buff, I found myself bored by Ross' explanation of the field. Since he is covering so much, he does not have a lot of time to expand on the concepts that he's talking about. Unfortunately, this made it hard for me to really engage with the ideas. The art is competent and quite reminiscent of Star rating: 2.5 Filmish is an introductory text on film studies, so if you want a very broad, but shallow overview, this book will probably fill your needs. However, despite not being much of a film studies buff, I found myself bored by Ross' explanation of the field. Since he is covering so much, he does not have a lot of time to expand on the concepts that he's talking about. Unfortunately, this made it hard for me to really engage with the ideas. The art is competent and quite reminiscent of Scott McCloud's comic theories. If you enjoyed that series of technical books, you may like Filmish as well.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karimi

    I can tell the author doesn't understand Nollywood or intersectionality. Wish they covered more films created, directed, and or starred by people of color. They missed a great opportunity to talk about indigenous filmmakers, to explain the colonial uses of film propaganda, or to even mention women of color. They also need to work on drawing Black people lol Overall, a good book for a beginners guide to film theory and film history. It's just not as woke as it thinks it is. I can tell the author doesn't understand Nollywood or intersectionality. Wish they covered more films created, directed, and or starred by people of color. They missed a great opportunity to talk about indigenous filmmakers, to explain the colonial uses of film propaganda, or to even mention women of color. They also need to work on drawing Black people lol Overall, a good book for a beginners guide to film theory and film history. It's just not as woke as it thinks it is.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bernard O'Leary

    Charming wee introduction to film criticism

  14. 5 out of 5

    Punk

    A technical and cultural history of film and film theory, including film as propaganda, and the ways movies can be used to promote and reinforce certain ideologies or challenge those same attitudes, and through this influence shape the way we see the world. This is an engaging introduction to film with some notable flaws. To my surprise, it addresses the male gaze in the first section, then goes on to cover portrayals of physical disability, LGBTQ+ characters, homophobia and censorship, as well a A technical and cultural history of film and film theory, including film as propaganda, and the ways movies can be used to promote and reinforce certain ideologies or challenge those same attitudes, and through this influence shape the way we see the world. This is an engaging introduction to film with some notable flaws. To my surprise, it addresses the male gaze in the first section, then goes on to cover portrayals of physical disability, LGBTQ+ characters, homophobia and censorship, as well as racism and racial stereotypes in film. However, Ross makes no attempt to depict dark skin in his stark black and white art, effectively turning everyone white, except, somehow, in the panels that show white people in black face. I'm sure it's possible to indicate darker skin through use of greyscale, even if it ruins your artistic vision. Otherwise, the art has a cohesive style that unifies the look of these films, making Metropolis appear as modern as Blade Runner and allowing you to compare the films on their merits rather than their film quality or special effects. For a history of film, it's very focused on Western cinema, and on Western cinema canon in particular. Ross references films by Roman Polanski and Woody Allen without acknowledging their crimes or the sexual allegations against them which made me wonder who else in this book deserves a strong side-eye. That would have been an ideal time to delve into the topic of art made by shitty individuals and the ethical quandary surrounding its consumption, but Ross took a pass on that. And despite his coverage of the film industry's treatment of women, Black people, queers, and people with disabilities, he treats them as a box to tick in the proper section rather than a consideration for the book as a whole. For example, Ross addresses physical disability—usually played by non-disabled actors groping for an Oscar—and how it's often used as a shortcut to indicate corruption or evil, but later on when the topic of mental illness in films comes up, he doesn't mention how it's similarly used to depict evil or, alternately, sublime genius, or the way disability is often used as inspiration porn. He talks about how same-sex romance was often censored, if it was depicted at all, but doesn't make a point to mention any modern films with queer protagonists. And no word on the disparity between how female nudity is treated versus male nudity, though to be fair Ross does live in the U.K. and I know nudity in media is handled differently over there, but the vast majority of the movies he covers are American and if he can explain the Hays Code, he can include its successor, the MPAA rating system, and how it helped to create an industry that's more comfortable with violence—including sexualized violence—than sexuality. At the back there's a filmography in alphabetical order and a bibliography arranged by chapter. End notes include sources for quotes as well as supplemental information and references for further reading, though in the text only the quotations indicate they have end notes. I spent a lot of time flipping back and forth to see if there was a note associated with the panel I just read because the additional context is sometimes critical to understanding the text, such as when it drops in "slash fiction" without explaining it (though obviously this was not a problem for me) or on page 35 where it says, "Legend has it that film-making pioneer D.W. Griffith invented the close-up to better reveal the beauty of his leading lady," but if you flip back to page 180, in very small print—the end notes are in the smallest print—it says, "Contrary to the myth, it is likely that Griffith didn't actually invent the close-up..." which made me mad. Don't introduce an idea in the text and then debunk it in an end note. Several of the things in the notes would have been much better off incorporated into the text. This easily could have been longer, or at least more nuanced, but the comic form is an interesting and approachable way to study film, and I was actually surprised by how much cultural analysis Ross includes, though obviously I would have liked to see more. It would probably be a good introduction for someone who likes movies but is unused to looking at them with a critical eye. Contains: Black and white depictions of violence, gore, blood, eye trauma, child harm/death. Black people are depicted with the same skin tone (blank white paper) as white people. Uses LGBT instead of a more inclusive acronym. End notes are in very small text.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mateen Mahboubi

    I'm not sure who this is for. The actual film criticism is pretty basic and surface-level. I did enjoy the breadth of films referenced in the drawings, but found myself frustrated that quite a few of them were used multiple times throughout the book. Ultimate, I enjoyed quickly reading through the book but I can't say that I came out with any new insights. I'm not sure who this is for. The actual film criticism is pretty basic and surface-level. I did enjoy the breadth of films referenced in the drawings, but found myself frustrated that quite a few of them were used multiple times throughout the book. Ultimate, I enjoyed quickly reading through the book but I can't say that I came out with any new insights.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thom

    Film theory as graphic novel, with excellent references. Seven short chapters cover aspects of film as a discussion, with the narrator sometimes costumed for the role. Most are iconic and recognizable, with the exception of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    This is an absolutely wonderful personal journey through many aspects of film by cartoonist, Edward Ross. I could not recommend a book more highly for English teachers and film buffs. Strong on theory, entertaining and readable, it has an extremely useful endnotes sections with sources for the many quotes throughout this graphic novel. The filmography and bibliography supports each chapter particularly well. Brilliant and original.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    Take away the illustrations and this book isn't much more than a college research paper summarizing a bunch of other people's theories on film. While the illustrations are well crafted, there isn't any good reason why Ross's film theory musings had to be presented in graphic format. Take away the illustrations and this book isn't much more than a college research paper summarizing a bunch of other people's theories on film. While the illustrations are well crafted, there isn't any good reason why Ross's film theory musings had to be presented in graphic format.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ewan O'Donovan

    I thought It was a very good book , for people who are interested in films and filmmaking it goes through the evolution of film and I found it very entertaining

  20. 4 out of 5

    Oscar Despard

    Filmish sets out to give a history of film in an accessible and fun manner. It succeeded in doing this, and I enjoyed reading it. It gives a comprehensive account of film’s origins, and constantly references known films to reinforce its ideas. The reader is never bored by it, as it quickly flits from one film to another, exploring the basic aspects that make up film. At times, however, Ross’s presentation grates, primarily in his section on ideology. His wish to cover problems in film often spill Filmish sets out to give a history of film in an accessible and fun manner. It succeeded in doing this, and I enjoyed reading it. It gives a comprehensive account of film’s origins, and constantly references known films to reinforce its ideas. The reader is never bored by it, as it quickly flits from one film to another, exploring the basic aspects that make up film. At times, however, Ross’s presentation grates, primarily in his section on ideology. His wish to cover problems in film often spills over to excessive hand-wringing over the smallest of gestures (he manages to imply that Disney’s Aladdin is partially to blame for people supporting military intervention in the Middle East), and in his attempts to castigate blockbusters for their moral messages he seems to overlook that their primary purpose is to entertain, not to inform, and the audience can understand that. He seems to ignore piracy as something only disliked by a petulant film industry, fearful of new technology, despite the fact that it is simply unfair to film-makers; and tends to attack all tradition as conservative and outdated, even when it is undeserved, or has positive aspects. Regardless of these irritants, Filmish does give a great insight into film in all of its manifestations, and is a book which I enjoyed. It doesn’t assume any prior knowledge (which was welcomed by me) and imparts a vast quantity of information in an easy, pleasant read. It has flaws, but more important virtues, and I would recommend it to a friend.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    This was a bit different than I expected, I thought it was more of a personal journey through film (not sure where I got that idea), but it is actually focused on the history of film. I did enjoy this and liked how it was broken up into different sections and themes which was a great lens to look at film. I think it brought up both the joys of film and also the problems in film and the industry which was impressive to see the critical eye as well. The illustrations are great and I often found my This was a bit different than I expected, I thought it was more of a personal journey through film (not sure where I got that idea), but it is actually focused on the history of film. I did enjoy this and liked how it was broken up into different sections and themes which was a great lens to look at film. I think it brought up both the joys of film and also the problems in film and the industry which was impressive to see the critical eye as well. The illustrations are great and I often found myself looking forward to turning the page just to see what I recognized. I'm a long time film lover and both looked forward to seeing films I knew, and took note of ones I have yet to see (the watchlist grows once more!). This was a fun, informative and engaging read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hugo Lee

    In the graphic novel Filmish, the author highlights both well-known and less familiar films from every era of film history-the silents, the studio era, the indies, the rise of the blockbusters, and the current digital era. He gives attention to both Hollywood and global productions. Ordering his book in this way, the author adds depth to both his analysis of each film and the themes themselves, showing how they change or persist across decades. In his brief discussion of each film, Ross takes a In the graphic novel Filmish, the author highlights both well-known and less familiar films from every era of film history-the silents, the studio era, the indies, the rise of the blockbusters, and the current digital era. He gives attention to both Hollywood and global productions. Ordering his book in this way, the author adds depth to both his analysis of each film and the themes themselves, showing how they change or persist across decades. In his brief discussion of each film, Ross takes a key scene from each film that captures its essence. Juxtaposing these scenes adds a clear insight into both the films and the genres of which they are a part.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kari Mathias

    I really enjoyed the text of this book, but I found that I had a really hard time enjoying the art. Ross' backgrounds and attention to detail for the film sets were INSANE, but every single character he tried to draw looked exactly the same (except that some of them had facial hair). For some, if I didn't know the movie I would have had no idea who he was trying to portray. All in all that's a pretty small criticism, but I found it so distracting that it kind of took away from the content for me. I really enjoyed the text of this book, but I found that I had a really hard time enjoying the art. Ross' backgrounds and attention to detail for the film sets were INSANE, but every single character he tried to draw looked exactly the same (except that some of them had facial hair). For some, if I didn't know the movie I would have had no idea who he was trying to portray. All in all that's a pretty small criticism, but I found it so distracting that it kind of took away from the content for me. It was still massively interesting, but I feel like I could have gotten most of it from any book on film without the pictures and I would have enjoyed it just as much.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Excellent primer on film history and theory. Ross explores cinema through 7 themed chapters: The Eye, The Body, Sets & Architecture, Time, Voice & Language, Power & Ideology, and Technology & Technophobia, illustrating each point with iconic film frames. Extensive notes, filmography, and bibliography give film students and fans many directions for further research. A few complaints: the Language & Voice chapter meanders a bit, while I generally liked the art some of the people are too generic lo Excellent primer on film history and theory. Ross explores cinema through 7 themed chapters: The Eye, The Body, Sets & Architecture, Time, Voice & Language, Power & Ideology, and Technology & Technophobia, illustrating each point with iconic film frames. Extensive notes, filmography, and bibliography give film students and fans many directions for further research. A few complaints: the Language & Voice chapter meanders a bit, while I generally liked the art some of the people are too generic looking to be recognizable, and he didn’t include any Indian films.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex Matzkeit

    I wonder who this is for. For the casual film fan, it's way too academic - with a few too many gratuitous footnotes. For actual film scholars, it's nothing but a retread of some of film studies' most popular concepts, but relatively shallow and quite selective in its populist examples. The images don't do much to illuminate the text, never really used to much analytic effect. Yet, I kind of liked it, as it is clearly a labour of love. I wonder who this is for. For the casual film fan, it's way too academic - with a few too many gratuitous footnotes. For actual film scholars, it's nothing but a retread of some of film studies' most popular concepts, but relatively shallow and quite selective in its populist examples. The images don't do much to illuminate the text, never really used to much analytic effect. Yet, I kind of liked it, as it is clearly a labour of love.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Jackson

    I couldn’t love this book anymore than I do. Maybe if it was an additional 200 pages. Not only do we get a simple history of film, movements within it, and lessons on storytelling, but it gives an incredibly thorough account of the sociological impact film has on culture. It’s engrossing recognizing how film imitates reality, enforces stereotypes or orthodox thinking, and how it has been misused to sideline, ostracize, or marginalized minorities and women. The art calls on some of the greatest v I couldn’t love this book anymore than I do. Maybe if it was an additional 200 pages. Not only do we get a simple history of film, movements within it, and lessons on storytelling, but it gives an incredibly thorough account of the sociological impact film has on culture. It’s engrossing recognizing how film imitates reality, enforces stereotypes or orthodox thinking, and how it has been misused to sideline, ostracize, or marginalized minorities and women. The art calls on some of the greatest visual settings of film and uses the graphic novel medium to deepen an understanding of concepts. Phenomenal.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    Rating: 4.5 A really interesting and informative look at the history and theory of film, and the art itself is great as well!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nigel Moore

    This is a really nice package of film theory that’s takes us through the ways it effects us as audiences and in culture. While short, the chapters make high brow concepts really digestable. I would also recommend the films he uses as reference. Some not as well know as other.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kiera Beddes

    The most fascinating discussion of film that I’ve ever read. It was also super interesting in a graphic novel format considering film is a visual medium, it makes sense to use another visual medium to analyze it. The books broke down several components of film: the eye, the body, setting, time, ideology, technology, language...all of it interesting and thought provoking and completely changed the way I look at movies and the art that goes into them. The text is quite dense, so I wouldn’t read it The most fascinating discussion of film that I’ve ever read. It was also super interesting in a graphic novel format considering film is a visual medium, it makes sense to use another visual medium to analyze it. The books broke down several components of film: the eye, the body, setting, time, ideology, technology, language...all of it interesting and thought provoking and completely changed the way I look at movies and the art that goes into them. The text is quite dense, so I wouldn’t read it one sitting. I am seriously considering using this as a textbook the next time I teach lit and film. Also Akira Kurosawa...can we talk about how mind-boggling good he is?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    a nice book about the intricacies of film production! i was expecting to learn more about the cinematic history (quotes from past famous figures in the film world were featured), but was often left underwhelmed by the end of each chapter. the illustrations were fine, but didn't really add anything to what the author was saying. i would recommend this book to someone interested in learning about movies, but for my particular tastes, it was just an all right read. a nice book about the intricacies of film production! i was expecting to learn more about the cinematic history (quotes from past famous figures in the film world were featured), but was often left underwhelmed by the end of each chapter. the illustrations were fine, but didn't really add anything to what the author was saying. i would recommend this book to someone interested in learning about movies, but for my particular tastes, it was just an all right read.

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