“The important question concerning Hollywood’s imbalance is not whether good things are happening — they are — but whether each advancement inspires the developmental change necessary to make the numbers reflect the financial and creative strides being made in the industry. In 2014, people talk about the imbalance — but it will only matter if the powers that be start listening to the ever-rising voices of discontent.”—
There was a time, not too long ago, when it was extremely difficult for a young cinephile to get a proper education in film. When I was growing up, I spent plenty of time paging through dog-eared guides written by Roger Ebert or Leonard Maltin, or scouring local video stores to find a relatively obscure classic on a VHS that would actually play.
Fortunately, the rise of Netflix and video-on-demand services has made it exponentially easier for anyone who’s curious about the history of cinema to get up to speed. But with so many movies at your fingertips, where do you begin? Fortunately, Netflix has a documentary series that doubles as an intensive course on the history of cinema: The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which director and narrator Mark Cousins adapted from his book of the same name.
In 15 hour-long segments, Cousins takes viewers from the “Birth of Cinema” in 1888 to the present, and even provides some intriguing predictions about cinema’s future. Along the way, he offers information, analysis, and perspective on a number of important movements and eras throughout film history, including the European New Wave, the American cinema of the 1970s, and the ongoing rise of world cinema in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. All the while, Cousins strikes a careful balance by providing essential context to the iconic films and filmmakers you’d expect — D.W. Griffith, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock — while challenging conventional wisdom by highlighting out the female and non-western filmmakers who contributed far more to cinema than they’ve ever received credit for.
The Story of Film is thoughtful and deeply intellectual — but fortunately, that doesn’t make it feel like work. Cousins’ thick, laconic Irish accent can take some time to adjust to, but he makes an appealing and comprehensive host. And on a pure engagement level, the series is an absolute joy to watch — where else are you going to see so many brilliant films, so beautifully woven together and contextualized, in one place?
If you have any interest in the history of cinema, clear some time in your binge-watching schedule for The Story of Film — and use it as the springboard to an appreciation of film that will last for the rest of your life.
“Abortions are as much the result of a culture inhospitable to life as they are to the weak sources of support that arise out of that culture and the decisions of individual mothers.”—Elizabeth Stoker, Why I’m a pro-life liberal
“Horrifyingly, many girls said they believed that men cannot keep themselves from harassing or grabbing women, describing men as ‘unable to control their sexual desires.’ According to the report, ‘they perceived everyday harassment and abuse as normal male behavior, and as something to endure, ignore, or maneuver around.’”—This is terrible: Study finds that teen girls see sexual violence as normal and unavoidable