ML Film Studio

Celebrating Cinematic Art

Celebrating Cinematic Art

Written by The Movie Love Ambassador ©

“In the first century of its existence, the cinema has produced works of art worthy to stand comparison with the masterworks of painting, music and literature.”

The Oxford History of World Cinema

“Cinema resembles so many other arts. If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and musical elements.”

Akira Kurosawa, Japanese filmmaker

“Cinema is very close to all forms of art – in a sense, it is the culmination of them all. It is a richer, fuller medium.”

Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian filmmaker

Definition of Cinema

Like “kinetic”, “cinema” derives from a Greek word for motion. The Lumière brothers, who exhibited their short film “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory” in 1895 in one of the world’s first true cinematic experiences, coined the term cinématographe. They wanted to convey the idea that their new technology could record movement. And catching people and things in motion, in vivid visual and sound textures, has remained the essence of films ever since.

Broadly speaking, a film is a narrative which puts together slices of life captured while they move through space and time. Cinema embeds its stories within rich, visual-sonic space-time realities. Put more simply: “Movies are made by capturing images and sound, usually in relatively short segments, and reassembling those pieces via editing to make a coherent whole.”1 The viewer experiences the motion picture in real time and so watching a film is always an event in a person’s life.

No other art form can evoke with such immediacy the changing experiences of life while it is in motion through space and time. Pioneering philosopher of film theory, Rudolf Arnheim, spoke back in 1957 of the “great art of painting in motion”2 and of the “pictureness” of film3.

In film theory, there’s the concept of filmic space. This is where the director frames each shot with a precise arrangement of objects, background, lighting and the positions of actors so that everything is composed to look the way it should through the camera lens. The filmmaker creates a “plastic” space which he/she believes will draw the audience into the scene when it is projected on the big screen.

In addition to filmic space, there’s filmic time. This is when events while they are happening are recorded, capturing motion happening in time. Once the film has been shot, all of these “slices of time” are then joined and edited into chosen sequences which carry along the narrative from beginning to end. This process creates an overall structure of time represented within the length of the movie.

Whereas D.W. Griffith’s epic drama Intolerance (1916) blends stories from four different eras, thousands of years apart, each exemplifying the theme of the film’s title, the ninety-five minutes of screen time in Sidney Lumet’s courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men (1957) corresponds roughly to the duration of time covered in the lives of its main characters in this story. This helps to immerse the viewer in the courtroom experience, almost becoming one of the jurors on that hot day in New York when the fate of a youngster charged with murder lay in the hands of twelve fallible men. These two films use time in very different, but equally effective, ways.

Just as the recording of time can be slowed down in slow-motion cinematography, so time can be transcended in movies with flashbacks into the past. In flashbacks, which play with time, memories can be explored and then related to the present situation being depicted. Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Andrei Tarkovsky’s first full feature film, uses evocative, dreamy flashbacks to the main character’s childhood, interspersed with the boy’s current perilous position as a homeless war orphan working as a scout in World War 11. The childhood memories are rich with emotion and contrast starkly with the burnt-out landscapes of war, bringing home the idea of lost innocence. The film hardly features any war scenes as such, adopting, rather, this more subtle technique of juxtaposing flashbacks with scenes from the unfolding story. It’s a unique war film.

Given this flexibility of both filmic space and time, we may reasonably conclude that cinema is the most fluid of art forms. In its essence, film captures change: fluctuating patterns of light and dark, passing of time and seasons, delicate movements in Nature and in the settings, actions and shifts in the mental states of characters, as well as in the rhythms of the film’s soundscape (more on the role of sound in film art later).

To live up to the name “motion picture”, a work of cinematic art should be, above all, dynamic. Even a sombre, existential drama like Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly (1961) is filled with the interesting interplays between the film’s four characters, as well as the range of emotions flickering constantly across their faces. The deliberate use of grey, muted natural light in the film to create what the cinematographer Sven Nykvist called a “graphite tone”4, adds to the negative and rather “flat” moods portrayed by the characters.  In addition, the camera moves fluidly between various locations at their home on the remote, sparsely populated Swedish island of Fårö in Gotland, creating on-going visual expressiveness and psychological interest despite the relatively low level of action. Bergman’s subtle kinds of interplay constitute cinematic dynamism just as surely as do the high-powered climactic battle scenes in Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954).

Painting, photography and sculpture, by contrast, are comparatively static media as they can’t show what Arnheim called “temporal progress”5. Films can capture the action of time in life’s experiences better than any other medium.

To be dynamic, a movie should be carried along by a fluid visual style filling the screen with interesting imagery. There should be a living, evolving setting, enlivened by the actions of the characters, whose changing mental states should be depicted as they live out their story together.  In addition, there should be an expressive soundscape. All of these elements will be covered in more detail throughout this essay.

Take Spielberg’s striking debut feature film, Duel, as an example of cinematic dynamism. Filmed in 1971 with a highly mobile and agile camera, this classy action-thriller pulls the spectator into a tense, life-and-death battle on the open road between a psychopathic truck driver and a harassed travelling salesman, played with controlled intensity by Dennis Weaver. The truck itself, portrayed as a menacing, inhuman force, is a work of art, adding visual and sonic textures to the film, as well as huge menace to the drama. It was a great directorial decision to let the male driver remain anonymous, so that the duel appears to be between a man and a machine. It enables the director to create a new kind of Western, with the road as the frontier, the salesman as the lone hero and the malevolent truck as the threat that needs to be neutralised. Duel showcases cinematic dynamism and deserves to be seen as an all-time classic. The movie’s pace throughout is perfect. Counter-intuitively, I regard this as the illustrious director’s best film, simply because it’s pure cinema, from the first minute to the last, maximising all the elements of film.

What, then, are the factors which produce such cinematic dynamism?

Master French film-maker, Robert Bresson, defined cinematic art as “writing with images in movement and with sounds”6, stressing that art cannot occur through reproduction alone, but only through transformation: “An image must be transformed by contact with other images as is colour by contact with other colours.”7 The camera mechanically records footage, but it’s the film artist who transforms the raw material of shots and scenes into living, knitted-together imagery, enlivened by the soundscape and by the joining of sounds to images. At the brilliant height of the Soviet school of film in the 1920s and 1930s, directors like Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Alexander Dovzhenko and Mikhail Kalatozov were using montage, or striking juxtapositions of images, to stunning effect to portray the humanity of ordinary people and workers caught up in a turbulent social crisis much bigger than all of them. Almost a century later, their films, like Mother (1926), Battleship Potemkin (1925), The End of St Petersburg (1927), Earth (1930) and Salt for Svanetia (1930) still convey an elemental, evocative power.

The film-master understands the resonance of imagery, especially when embedded within a soundscape, as has already been suggested. While cinema started off as “living photography”, to use Pudovkin’s phrase, especially in the silent feature film era, it soon developed into a whole new narrative art form whose story-telling could compete with the novel. Then, the medium took another great leap forward with its dimension of sound, from about 1927 onwards. Soon, its original photographic quality (the early movie camera was just an extension of the camera which took still photos) gave way to a richer, multi-dimensional medium. Cinema had discovered how to portray profound artistic visions whilst deepening the sensory and emotional viewing experience. This was when cinema started to stand on its own as a new art form. At the same time, the movie camera had been transformed by giants of the silent film era like D.W. Griffith from just another sophisticated, but dumb, recording device into an “active observer” with greater mobility and variety of camera work.8

Shortly after the Lumière brothers showed the world that a new powerful recording device had been invented, then, the movie camera became an instrument of creativity, like a painter’s brush, a writer’s pen or a sculptor’s chisel. A new art form was being born: one which would irreversibly change the world.

I believe cinema’s power lies in its unique capabilities. For example, film seems to be the only medium that reproduces the space-time continuum of physical reality while it is motion. Yes, radio broadcasts can give you live talk shows and exciting commentaries on live sporting events but the audience can see nothing and so its experience over the radio is limited to the interpretation of speech and sounds.

Arnheim talked about focusing on the “expressive qualities of motion”. Here’s how he described the inherent qualities of the cinematic medium: “the motion picture specializes in presenting events. It shows changes in time…Motion not only serves to inform the audience of the events that make up the story. It is also highly expressive.”9 Award-winning US documentary filmmaker and film theoretician, Lee R. Bobker, says it best: “It is the illusion of motion that imparts energy and interest to the people, places, and events depicted in a film.”10

Great film-makers like Eisenstein, Bresson, Kurosawa, David Lean, Michelangelo Antonioni and Andrei Tarkovsky all looked for the unique defining features of film art. They were anxious to separate cinema from the novel, the theatre and the graphic arts, like painting and photography, by creating cinema-specific forms of expression.

The question of how artistic cinema can be dynamic boils down to the degree of its potential expressiveness as a function of how many dimensions of experience it has at its disposal. After studying the masterworks of cinematic history, I can conclude that cinema hasn’t yet fully exploited its potential for expressiveness and that it’s still on track to become the most lively of all current available art forms.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Soviet-style social realism attempting to capture a direct, realistic reproduction of a social reality, or if we’re analysing the power of an expressionist masterpiece like Robert Wiener’s ground-breaking 1920 crime/horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the key demand remains the same for all film artists, namely: create maximum expressiveness. No matter what your style or vision is, create maximum expressiveness!

Expressiveness in use of imagery and sound, always locked into some form of synergy, will so often translate into deeper impressions being made on the viewer. Since all art involves a triangular relationship between artist, work of art and the audience, it follows that artistic power will increase whenever the audience is aroused to a higher level of awareness and perception. Pudovkin argued that every art should “embrace and excite the maximum number of spectators”11, using to the full all the advantages of the mobile camera and microphone.

In fact, one of the reasons for looking at cinema as a potentially superior, if not supreme, art form, is that film art draws audiences into becoming participants in the film drama at a profound level of being. This participation involves their sensory perception, their cognitive appreciation of underlying ideas and themes, and their emotions. Even a sixth sense can be activated through the moods and atmospheres which can be created in different genres, whether thrillers, suspenseful mysteries, heart-rending romances, Westerns, science fiction films or war dramas.

We’re talking about the atmosphere of suspense and anxiety created in Hitchcock’s Psycho and the spiritual yearning and painful ordeal of Joan of Arc during her trial, as depicted both in Carl Dreyer’s silent movie masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and in Bresson’s The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962). We’re talking about the pain of migrant life in modern Europe in Fassbinder’s counter-cultural romantic drama Fear Eats the Soul (1974) and the angst of post-war unemployment and economic depression in Da Sica’s poignant monument to neorealism, The Bicycle Thieves (1948). We’re talking about the superbly sustained narrative tension in Fred Zinneman’s Western classic, High Noon (1952). We’re talking about the increasing absurdity prevailing in Werner Herzog’s political allegory from 1972, Aguirre, Wrath of God, with its uncompromising parody of historical European colonialism. We’re talking about the palpable anxiety of never having enough money in a race to keep up with the Joneses in Rocking Horse Winner, a magnificent adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s underrated short story of the same name. We’re talking about the suspense of undertaking the world-first of crossing the Atlantic Ocean solo in a plane, followed by real elation in a heroic, historical achievement in Billy Wilder’s The Spirit of St Louis (1957). We’re talking about the sadness of the generation gap facing an old couple in Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953) and we’re talking about the tenderness of a genuine, but doomed, extra-marital love affair in David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945). The atmosphere and emotional tone in all of these movies takes them to the next level, turning them from dramas into memorable works of art.

We’re starting to build up a picture of the elements of film art, including this aspect of atmosphere and mood. It can’t be conveyed by acting alone, but is produced by a combination of factors all working in synergy, including lighting, sound, setting, and in all the smallest details of recreation achieved by the director and his team in key scenes.

Has cinema, with its “astonishing ability to portray the world”12, now exceeded the power of the novel, from which it has gained so much material in its history? The medium does, indeed, have a greater range of expressiveness and power to impress, as explained by Pudovkin: “…the cinema can approach or even transcend literature in its exceptional power of impression…In the wholeness of this reflection resides a profound force irresistibly dragging the spectator himself into participation in the creative process.”13

The key phrase in this Pudovkin quote is “power of impression”.  It is the expressiveness of films which produce impressions on audiences.

In totality, then, cinema has, at its disposal, this interplay in real time of several dimensions: space, time, the sense of motion, optical images and real sound. And not to forget the atmosphere and mood! At the same time, through the impact of its underlying story, a film can communicate meaning and ideas in visceral, embedded ways, enhanced by the embodied emotions and moods portrayed by the actors. Although I’ve loved the visual arts, theatre, music and literature with a lifelong passion, I’ve come to regard cinema as having the most power of all available art-forms. Being so multi-dimensional in its nature, it simply has to be the most experiential of the arts. Back in the early days of cinema, Pudovkin predicted that this new art form would “supersede all the older arts, for it is the supreme medium in which we can express”.14 Kurosawa agrees with the Russian master: “Cinema resembles so many other arts. If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and musical elements.”15 Put all this together, the Japanese film genius argued, and you get cinematic beauty.16

Film, in sum, draws on more dimensions than any other art form, with motion, visual imagery, sound, emotion and meaning. That’s why it can create a whole space-time experience for the viewer. As mentioned already, the audience becomes an active witness to this “canned” space-time experience. While a word in any language, whether written or spoken, is an abstraction, part of a code, a piece of film is the chunk of a whole recreated reality. At its best, film bottles the magic of a unified pictorial, auditory, emotive and cognitive experience of representational life. This is why cinema’s form is uniquely compelling, immersing us in its recreated imaginative reality.

Think about it. If you take the dimensions of life itself, and ask which dimensions each art form is able to reproduce, then one could conclude that cinema represents the highest number of life’s dimensions. Influential American film critic and theoretician, James Monaco, describes the uniqueness of film in these powerful words: “Although we know it best as one of the dramatic arts, film is strongly pictorial…it also has a much stronger narrative element than any of the other dramatic arts, a characteristic recognized by filmmakers ever since D.W. Griffith, who pointed to Charles Dickens as one of his precursors.”17 Cinema fulfils the yearning common to all artists to transcend time and space, while remaining true to reality, whether inner, or outer, reality. As Bobker rightly said: “The director commands the largest number of complex elements in the creation of a work of art.”18

It’s therefore not surprising that cinema requires a collaborative and communal process to produce its multi-dimensional kind of art.  In addition, the craft of film must deploy sophisticated technologies, both for recording its sounds and shots and for shaping and editing them into a final form: “…cinema is in fact unique as an art form in being defined by its technological character.”19

Yet, we should never just define cinema through its mechanics. Watching film art is not like consuming a meal, or drinking a glass of wine; it’s a deep imaginative and moral experience. At its best, cinema can both capture and induce change within us, for good, or for ill.  If a movie induces passive consumption on the part of the audience, then it’s not art, it’s simply entertainment, analogous to watching a sporting event, playing chess or observing people go by in a street.

The Meaning of Film Art

In his classic book The Principles of Art, R.G. Collingwood pointed out that from ancient times to the Renaissance, artists saw themselves as craftsmen, or skilled workmen. Then, from the seventeenth century, there was a gradual separation between the modern concept of fine arts as opposed to more technical, or functional, crafts. The concept of les beaux arts, or the beautiful arts, was born. Technical crafts were produced according to some standard template, while the fine arts were to be created, as it were, from nothing to become highly individual works striving for intrinsic forms of beauty.

Since the invention of the idea of les beaux arts, beauty has been a key aim of the fine arts. We’ll therefore look at the concept of cinematic beauty and its associated concepts, like harmony and order. Respected physicist, David Bohm, sees beauty and order as a common link between art and science: “The artist not only had to observe nature with a certain kind of objectivity that could be called the germ of a ‘scientific’ attitude (for instance, in order to get the kind of images and ornamental patterns that he wanted), but he also very probably had an unusual sensitivity to the beauty in nature’s forms and structures. By expressing this perception in the form of artistically created objects, he also helped other people to see in a more sensitive way.”20

In the same way that there are wonderful patterns in Nature, whether on the wings of butterflies or in the constellations of stars, whether in the shapes and colours of flowers, plants and trees or in the soaring summits of mountain ranges, whether in the eternal tides of the ocean or in the cascading of waterfalls, so, too, should there be expressive artistic patterns, structures and details aplenty in artistic films. The world is totally replete with structural designs. Like the scientist, the artist “conceives and forms his image of the world through directly perceivable sensory qualities, such as colours, shapes, sounds, movements.”21 In constructing a narrative on screen, filled with living imagery and a living soundscape, the film artist portrays aspects of his/her “image of the world”.

Tarkovsky, always an uncompromising filmmaker, who suffered a lot in his personal life for his art, once stated that: “Art symbolises the meaning of our existence”.22 What he perhaps meant is that the story on the screen, and the imagery created to tell that story, are ultimately focused on sharing something personal and significant about the experience of life as interpreted and felt by the film artist. Monaco stated that the classical arts were tools to describe the universe and our place in it. Furthermore, by helping humans understand some of the mysteries of existence, the arts took on a quasi-religious aura of those mysteries.23 Since childhood, I’ve probably experienced cinema (and some other art forms, too) as a quasi-religious force in my life. Which, ultimately, is why I’m paying tribute to the cinema in this essay.

The experience of true art by the viewer is profoundly personal. All art takes us on an imaginative and perceptual journey which deepens us as humans. Just as there are different modes of transport, such as boats, trains, cars or planes, so we can experience art through different media, whether theatre, music, dance, painting, sculpture, poetry, fiction, photography or film. Each art form will provide its own qualitatively different artistic experience. The argument here is that cinema has many “weapons” at its disposal for creating those experiences for the masses.

Even though there are several dimensions to cinematic art, each film needs to find its own beauty, or structural order, to be successful as art. Does the film hold all its multiple parts together in a dynamic balance, providing an underlying structure like interdependent patterns in Nature?

This structure of the whole work, this balance of all the elements blended into one perceptual journey for the viewer, doesn’t have to be as complex as in the stunning abstract art film, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) by Alain Resnais. It was a huge achievement to keep this highly unusual and evocative love story, set against the background of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War 2, together in one whole narrative, blending images, documentary footage, voice over literary text and flashbacks with dazzling brilliance. In aesthetics, there can be “simplicity of orderliness”24, according to Arnheim, as long as there’s plenty of particular details and variety, that is. For Nature and human experience are both full of variety and uniqueness.

The search for cinematic beauty is not about making pretty or sentimental films. Renaissance art, in drawing and painting, showed the beauty of perspective and, in sculpture, especially in the work of Michelangelo, the beauty of the naked human body. This search for beauty, strength and harmony formed part of the humanism of this period in Western civilisation. It was part of the idealism of the times when art aspired to reach unparalleled heights of expression. In short, there was nothing flaky about beauty in Renaissance art. It was an immensely strong beauty.

Likewise, when Tarkovsky pleads for the “beautiful as a criterion of art” in film art today, he’s referring to “the aspiration to express the ideal”, conferring on artists a commitment “to a higher goal’.25 An important part of this higher goal is to pose the question of the reason, or meaning, of human existence.26 There’s simply no art without soul, no art not informed by a sincere, creative human spirit, no art without suffering and the search for some beauty and meaning amongst the brokenness.

Being a collaborative medium, cinema, however, is never about art for art’s sake. All art, in my view, provides transformative imaginative experiences and the depth of the viewer’s experience is a key indicator of artistic success. Pudovkin considered art as a three-way interplay between artists, art works and spectators,27 while Antonioni stated that films provide very personal experiences.28 Monaco puts the critical role of the audience into historical perspective: “The profound psychological effect of a work of art has been recognized ever since Aristotle’s theory of catharsis.”29 Modern artists have often tried to go beyond catharsis to convey social meaning, trying to effect some sort of change in the world, even if it’s only through changed perceptions and even paradigm shifts. Yet, there has to an emotional response to effect this inner change. That’s why I agree with Tarkovsky that films are designed primarily to affect the audience’s emotions, at a deeper level simply than cognition, or logic. The same is largely true of the appreciation of paintings, music and poetry. We’re talking about intuitive experiences at the heart of art. How can we change perceptions and influence thoughts if there is no emotional resonance of this kind?

Collingwood cautioned, however, that we’ll never know if “the imaginative experience we obtain from a work of art is identical with that of the artist”.30 There’s an open-endedness to the viewer’s experience of film art. Collingwood also rightly suggested that audiences for art were becoming more collaborative as time goes by, something which has become even truer in the digital age. More than ever, audiences want to participate in the work of art. There seems to be a greater degree of participation by the audience in a work of film art compared to the relationship between the writer and the reader.

I think this high degree of involvement of the film audience in the appreciation of a cinematic work of art is a function of the immediacy of film experiences. To create this “change-inducing” immediacy requires the combination of several elements into one seamless, synergistic whole. It takes a monumental technical and artistic effort to blend so many pieces of film and sound recordings into one coherent visionary experience.31

The Elements of Film Art

Let’s look at each of these elements in turn. How they’re ultimately brought together invokes something of the mystery of creation and, this, too, is as deeply personal a process as the viewing of the film itself.  Cinematic art fuses its shots, scenes, storyline and soundscape into one visionary experience of a reality which can evoke wholehearted, immersive human responses from viewers. In some strange way, the wholeness of the art work, fully fleshed out and substantiated during the narration of the underlying storyline, can resonate with the whole being of the viewer. As a lifelong cinema-goer, I have experienced this acute level of immersion hundreds of times. This is the essence of an expressive art form.


It has sometimes been suggested in film theory that a film is a system of images. This is especially true of film art, where each shot, each scene and each sequence must be sewn and woven together to create a living tapestry. The idea of a system is that all its parts are interconnected. While the viewer will be following the film’s narrative at a cognitive level, often artistic images captured in the cinematography are so evocative that they appeal to intuition and emotion, rather than to logic.

It’s clear that images are the essential material of movies. How the images are joined up and how they are enhanced by the soundscape will increase their power and beauty, for sure, but a film will stand or fall on the quality of its imagery.

Film images are created by nimble, versatile, adventurous, sensitive camera-work. Each frame is carefully composed (see the section on mis-en-scène below for more details about composition), while the camera’s best position and movements are selected.

For each shot, the camera is positioned in relation to the objects being filmed. The best angle is chosen, as well as the best distance. There are several distances to choose from, including distance shot, long shot, medium long-shot, mid-shot, semi-close-up and close-up. It’s said that lots of close-ups shift the focus towards psychology and states of mind, while long shots reinforce the role of the setting and environment.

The camera angle and position selected will determine what the overall image will look like within the frame. As a writer has adjectives to add descriptive detail to his/her prose or poetry, so a director has camera angles and movements. In Seven Samurai, Kurosawa used three cameras to shoot many scenes, an “orthodox” camera, a “quick” camera and a “guerrilla-like” camera. The corresponding visual dynamism of his battle scenes provided both excitement and the authenticity of feeling that we, the audience, had become part of the action and its tension. Stanley Kubrick used a wonderfully mobile and close-range style of camera work for his 1957 black-and-white anti-war drama Paths of Glory, deepening the sense of the devastating reality of war by a hundredfold.

The camera can move from side to side in a pan (like a panoramic view), up and down in a tilt, and it can itself move in a tracking shot in the dolly.

But film art isn’t just about using the camera with dexterity; it’s also about composing and designing the images. You can create depth of field in your scenes as Orson Welles and Gregg Toland did to great effect in Citizen Kane (1941), and John Ford did in The Searchers (1956). Or you can create more moody, intimate effects with soft focus and a shallow field of vision which puts the full attention on the subject(s) being filmed, as Sokurov did in his moving portrait of a son caring for his terminally ill mother in a remote part of Russia in the poetic drama Mother and Son (1997). In my view, Mother and Son became the most painterly film in cinema history.

The basic composition of the frame is all about deciding on the balance between foreground, middle ground and background, as is the case for the design of realistic paintings and still photographs. In composing movie images, it should be remembered that humans tend to read images from left to right, thus giving weight to the right of the picture, where our eye naturally leads towards. This effect needs to be counterbalanced by giving weight to what’s on the left side of the image or screen. An artistic balance in the composition of the picture results.

In addition to composing the image with the camerawork, great attention has to be given to  lighting. How much natural light will be used, compared to artificial lighting? Will the lighting be even, with a low contrast between light and dark, or will it provide a high contrast between black and white? In the film noir genre, for example, we typically get sharp contrasts between dark and light to add to an ominous atmosphere. High contrast lighting was one of the elements which made Brief Encounter so impactful. The sad mood was so thick in the film that the audience viewed most of the movie through the emotions of the two protagonists, feeling their love and identifying with the heartbreak when their affair came to a head. Bergman, too, made maximum use of strong contrasts like this in his allegorical film about the end of the crusades and the Black Death plague in medieval Europe, The Seventh Seal (1957).  It was the perfect choice for his symbolic film about Death (which becomes an actual character in the story).

I like to look into the director’s palette of colours, shading and tonality. What is the overall visual tone? How does that tone further the film’s themes? What colours and shades of darkness and light are at play? How does the lighting fit in with the acting, the dialogue, and the meaning of the film? What emotions does the director wish to inspire in the audience? 

In film theory, light is seen as “paint” the director and his team use to create mood and deepen the meaning and emotion of a scene. Lighting really is one of the major tools of cinematic art.

In creating film imagery, the director and cinematographer are trying to bottle the precious vividness of life in action in a given space and time. They’re trying to embody life, in all its liveliness and preciousness, to transport the viewer fully into that world. It’s about fishing out the most telling details, whether of characters, objects or background scenery, through a very precise form of observation.32   But it’s not cold observation we mean here. The intuitive perceptions of the artist can often lend a more expressive quality to these observed details. By this process of artistic, or imaginative, observation, characters and their settings can become utterly unique, which is why they become so fascinating to an audience. Tarkovsky went to great lengths to give his artistic film images what he called a “living texture”, whilst striving to achieve a balance between the form of the image and the content, or meaning, he wished to convey.33

The stunning thing about film images is that they capture not just motion, but time running invisibly through motion. In Sculpting in Time, Tarkovsky argues that this sense of the course of time passing in the frame creates rhythm, which he believes is a powerful effect. A cinematic image is literally reproducing moments of time as they’re manifested physically in space, during events, or actions. So, the director should think carefully about how long each shot should be, as well as how slow or pacy the scene should be, for this will affect the perception of time experienced by the viewer. In this way, the director gets to control what Tarkovsky called “time-pressure”, analogous, in some ways, to the role of blood pressure in the body.

Think of the mesmerising desert scenery and sweeping scope of action in the battle scenes in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Think of how the main character’s growing megalomania and flawed heroism is gradually depicted throughout the story through some incredible facial expressions by Peter O’Toole. The flow of time in the movie traces the rise and fall of this unusual man set against a turbulent historical background. War and the personal struggles of the main characters are fleshed out in minute detail.

In David Lean’s black-and-white noir masterpiece, Brief Encounter (1945), already mentioned, time ticks equally ominously for the two main characters as their doomed love affair draws to its sad, inevitable conclusion, interspersed with moments of joy, creating a memorable bitter-sweet mood. The greatness of the movie lies in capturing the intense fluctuations of a love affair as it is lived out in time and space, focused at the train station and its café, filled with interesting minor local characters, where they sometimes meet.

Think of the beautiful and stirring opening scenes of The Sound of Music (1965) against the backdrop of mountainous Salzburg in Robert Wise’s perfectly choreographed adaption of the stage musical. The musical was based on the 1949 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp and the film cleverly weaves the duality of hope and despair into the texture of the whole narrative. As the Von Trapp’s homeland increasingly falls under the cruel rule of the Nazis, how will this large Austrian family survive and keep up their spirits? Wise’s imagery and the uplifting soundtrack enliven this classic modern story of overcoming the odds when they turn against you.

Images are the heart and soul of a film, while the soundscape is its bloodstream. Pudovkin wrote that he wanted the concepts of the film script turned into clear and vivid visual images. The Sound of Music, one of the most popular and enduring film ever made, consistently blends sound and imagery with a golden touch, with a perfect sense of timing, creating a viewing experience that still resonates with today’s audiences.

Images created from the shots don’t stand in isolation, but become part of the whole film’s imagery. In editing (see the section on Montage below for more details), the material from the shots is joined into scenes and then into sequences. The editor also decides how each shot, or scene, will blend into the next one. He can go for a more subtle mix effect or a sharp cut. A mix can be done through a fade-out, when the image gradually darkens to black, or through a wipe, when a boundary line from one shot to the next crosses the screen, or through a dissolve, superimposing the image of the current shot over the beginning of the next image. Varying the speed of the fade, whether slow or fast, can also produce different effects. Fassbinder’s beautifully made period drama, Effi Briest (1974), used fade-to-white editing extensively, instead of the conventional fade-to-black, to add to the film’s austere, yet wistful tone, reinforcing the idea of a sterile bourgeois existence he was exploring so powerfully in his story.


The point has already been made that the soundscape is a vital component of a film’s success, second only in importance to the fundamental layer of the imagery. Sound, which has volume, pitch and timbre to play around with, gives much texture and resonance to a film, affecting the overall tone. The aural tone should work with the colour temperatures of the imagery to produce artistic effects that work on the viewer’s emotions, even on the subconscious. This can all add to the “moodiness” or atmospheric richness of a film.

In an interesting phrase, Russian film genius Eisenstein once referred to the “synchronisation of senses”. I have no idea how that works but clearly the brain knows how to “marry” and associate visual and auditory stimuli, which can either complement one another, or clash with one another. As film theoreticians, the Soviet school of socialist realism always focused on dialectic effects in film editing, where clashes of contrasting images in juxtaposition echoed the ideas of class conflict they were often exploring. In their silent films, deprived of the critical component of a soundscape, the dialectic theory of film editing probably made the most sense at that time, enabling the filmmaker to produce great evocative power on the silent screen with tapestries of clashing images.

Either way, it’s true that “sound can actively shape how we perceive and interpret the image”.34 Pudovkin spoke of sound as a means of expression: “…the first function of sound is to augment the potential expressiveness of the film’s content…Unity of sound and image is realised by an interplay of meanings which results…in a more exact rendering of nature than its superficial copying.”35

Just as Eisenstein had once promoted the idea of forceful editing (see the section Montage below for more details on how vital film editing is), so Pudovkin, a fellow believer in the historical process of dialectic progress in society, believed in a counterpoint of sound and image.  He didn’t just want a passive kind of supporting role for sound. French filmmaker, Robert Bresson would have agreed. “Image and sound,” the Bresson once said, “must not support each other, but must work each in turn through a sort of relay.”36 Even a visual wizard like Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni, so intensely aware of geometric space, attributed enormous importance to the soundtrack, especially speech and background noises, rather than the music as such. He preferred recording on the set at the time of shooting, rather than using mostly dubbing and mixing during the editing. He said that these sounds picked up by the microphone during shooting were more suggestive than dubbed sounds, adding that natural sounds can be so beautiful that you no longer need music. Towards the end of his career, he came to believe that electronic music had the potential to blend more naturally into the movie’s soundscape than traditional musical soundtracks. In the science fiction film Stalker (1979), Tarkovsky tried to move away from music. When he did use music, especially in his earlier films, he saw its role as similar to a refrain or chorus in a poem, intensifying an impression or an idea.

Sound is certainly as important to film as its imagery. It can change the whole tone and meaning of a sequence of film. The technology of cinema owes as much to Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 as it does to still photography.

Japanese master, Akira Kurosawa, was convinced that there was a “multiplier effect” between sound and imagery when they were brought together with maximum force. In his autobiography he said that these two basic components of film were “mutual multipliers”.37 In this effect lay the secret of cinematic strength. Unlike Antonioni, he focused on both recorded sound at the time of shooting as well as edited sounds dubbed later: “Frequently we had the natural sound recorded as the film was shot, and sometimes adding another kind of sound on top of this would create unexpected new effects…The sound powerfully altered the visual image to create a whole new impression.”38

Pudovkin described the soundtrack and the filmed imagery as two complementary rhythms which, together, could highlight the true “inner” significance of a scene, while deepening the perceptions of the viewer. Monaco, who compares the microphone to a second “lens” in recording a film, has written about creating a total aural environment, which he called the soundstage.39 He points out that Edison himself, one of the chief inventors of film, had dreamt all along of a device which would synchronise the recording and playing of sound and images, making cinema as much a successor to his phonograph machine, as it is to the camera shooting still photographs. Cinema, in short, is “phonographic” living photography.

Who can forget the impact of multi-channel sound in the original Star Wars (1977) film, with space vessels multi-dimensionally whizzing around and above the viewer in stereophonic and surround sound? What would the blockbuster movie Jaws (1975) have been without the soundtrack composed by John Williams? And how deeply moving, even haunting, wasn’t the harp theme in the unique 1956 Japanese war drama The Burmese Harp, directed with great sensitivity by Kon Ichikawa? That has to be the most tender war film ever made…And anyone who has seen Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) will remember the impact of Richard Strauss’s rousing tone poem Thus Spake Zarathustra which accompanied the key scene when the apes discover the use of tools. Equally, the director’s choice of Johann Strauss’s waltz, The Blue Danube, as the theme for the arrival of mankind’s Space Age, struck many viewers as inspired.

Undeniably, the film experience is a perceptual one. Film entertainment will stimulate perceptions, primarily through the eyes and ears, while film art can, with great subtlety and technical skill, change perceptions through that deepening process. Yes, there can be a fused sound-image duality as envisaged by all these respected directors, but cinema is far more than this. In film art, sound, imagery and life-in-motion, which is also time-in-motion, are blended into a heightened perception of reality.

For Kurosawa, we should recall, his most exciting moment in the whole filmmaking process was when he added sound.


The word montage has been used in film theory for over a century. It comes from the French monter meaning to mount and refers to a style of film editing emphasising juxtaposition of images and, since the advent of the sound film, sounds. Crucially, its aim is to provide narrative and artistic unity to the whole film. The by-products of such underlying unity could include the style and mood of a film. The style of a director comes out in elements like the camera work for the scenes, as well as how the shots are joined in editing. In the style, patterns and overall texture of the film, lies much of the originality that is created. Without originality, how can there be authenticity? Without authenticity how can there be art?

Without montage, there’s no film as such. As Tarkovsky once declared, it’s the film that is the work of art, not its parts.40 Pudovkin adds that it’s the unified film that creates its overall meaning: “A film is only really significant when every one of its elements is firmly welded to a whole.”41

Arnheim defined montage simply as: “joining together shots of situations that occur at different times and in different places”.42

From its inception, the Russian school of film has always excelled in producing poetic images from montage, not just from innovative camera work. In the foundational work of film art, Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925), the Russian Revolution is symbolised by the shot of the stone statue of the lion suddenly rising up and roaring. Other poetic images in this high point of the silent film era, include the best filmed sequence in film history (in my view), namely, the Odessa steps scenes dramatising the crushing of a people’s protest by the Tsar’s army. This sequence exemplified and exonerated Eisenstein’s theory of montage through dialectic collision. The result: incredible footage and incredible montage work, producing unparalleled cinematic dynamism.

Monaco gives a thoughtful, but prosaic, definition of editing: “…the craft of editing consists of choosing between two or more takes of the same shot, deciding how long each shot should last and how it should be punctuated, and matching the soundtrack carefully with the edited images…”43 The modern editor, using a desktop editing table, can compare multiple images and soundtracks as he/she makes a choice as to the best combinations.

In addition to providing and reinforcing meaning, the edited unity, or synthesis, of the film also gives the work its structure and its distinctive rhythm. By now, we know that the finished film will have patterns and pulses of time throbbing through it. Isn’t this invisible stream of time part of the excitement of watching life-in-motion, even as it also poignantly carries with it the hidden and deep message of the evanescence of all life? With film, as with life, we’re predestined to experience life fleetingly, as it goes by…

It is editing which strengthens the narrative coherence of the film. There can be no doubt that stories are fundamental to all human cultures.44 Before each language had a writing system, there was always an oral tradition by which the people passed down truths and legends via story-telling around the campfire. It has been said that dreams are often like stories, albeit often of the absurdist kind! Our love of stories is seen in written works from the Bible through to the modern era of novels and short stories. Movie scripts are called scenarios or screenplays and are a different form of the story.

A narrative in film art is defined as: “a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space.”45 Normally, a situation of conflict builds up and eventually leads to some resolution and climax, followed by the denouement. In the opening of a film, sometimes called the exposition, the director gives signs of the conflict situation, often as it is likely to affect the main characters. The narrative is always carried by the characters, whose actions and decisions push along the plot to its conclusion. Bear in mind, though, that the time covered in the story isn’t the same as screen duration – the film director can choose to cover different time periods, or lengthy inter-generational time spans, as in the renowned Godfather trilogy of films by Francis Ford Coppola.

The ebbs and flows of the plot, like tides under the sea, carry us along with them, leading to the rising tension when the situation of conflict comes to a head.

In his autobiography, Kurosawa drew an analogy between the structure of a screenplay and that of a symphony with its three, or four, movements.

What has been called the counterforce is an opposing force that creates conflict. It could be a character who is the enemy of the main protagonists, or it could be larger forces, like evil, or Nature, or Society. In some movies, such as in Lawrence of Arabia or in Mikhail Kalatozov’s 1960 adventure drama Letter Never Sent, Nature itself becomes one of the main characters. The bottom line is that scenarios, and the interaction of the characters in them, must carefully build up tension to a point of final release.

While some believe that film is closest to the novel of all the other art forms, those in favour of a more poetic cinema, believe cinema is closest to poetry. Yet even poetic films like Hiroshima Mon Amour, Ivan’s Childhood and Antonioni’s masterpiece Red Desert (1964) need a strong narrative structure to be comprehensible and coherent, which only becomes apparent during the editing. Antonioni said: “My business is to tell stories, to narrate with images – nothing else.”46

The editor’s job, in sum, is to join up the recorded imagery and sounds to best portray the director’s picture of the world as it has been captured in time and space. It’s also to structure the story strongly. Artistically, the idea is to create a total form, a visual-sonic architecture, which can carry the meanings and the emotional content of the film, thus exonerating the treatment of the subject-matter.

MIS-EN-SCÈNE (meez-ahn-sen)

(Notice that below, I include characters/actors under mis-en-scène, simply because one can’t really conceive of the composition of each scene and frame without the presence of the actors. On the positive side, Kurosawa, for one, suggests that the quality of the set can improve the actors’ actual performances.)

Bobker warns us that when a scene is made of elements which are “just there” – instead of having an artistic significance – the audience’s attention will tend to wander. “It is through the arrangement and control of all visual elements within the frame that the filmmaker controls the thoughts and emotions of the audience,”47 he explained.  Remember, we want the viewer to be an active perceiver and participant in the experience of the art, both cognitively and emotionally. After all, art works are products of culture, the human culture which enfolds both artist and viewer. It should never be “art for art’s sake”.

Mise-en-scène means staging the action for each shot. Antonioni came alive on location and always spent time alone in the outdoor setting before shooting commenced to get a feel for the spirit of the place. He believed that characters should emerge from their environment, rather than the setting being a mere backdrop. Once he had a feel for the setting, he allowed the scene to unfold naturally.

Bobker defined composition as “the arrangement of people and objects within the frame”.48 Tarkovsky was famously exact about his mise-en-scène: “Its function is to startle us with the authenticity of the actions and the beauty and the depths of the artistic images – not by obtrusive illustration of their meaning.”49

The director can use different camera angles, a mobile camera, depth of field or soft-focus photography, lighting, placing of details in the setting, the actor’s expressions and movements to compose the imagery within the frame. The film artist needs to get inside the audience’s state of mind, as it were, to maximise the impact of each scene.  A good film should challenge us, rather than simply entertain us. Otherwise, there’s no depth, no substance, no lasting change of perceptions, no fresh ideas.

In film art, we want characters to be rich in traits, or properties, rather than being one-dimensional cardboard characters. They can also have distinctive appearances. In addition, they often represent something, a quality or an idea, which reinforces the intended themes and meaning of the film. In art, characters, and their inner states, are not so much explained as described, in lifelike ways. Antonioni used to get his camera to follow the actors when they moved, until they stopped, in order to create an immediacy and an identification with the characters as they interacted with their environment.

Bobker outlines three elements of artistic acting performances: “1. The projection of internal conviction. 2. Physical performance. 3. Intellectual communication.”50

Finally, we probably wish for at least one of the main characters to undergo some sort of paradigm shift or change of knowledge as a result of the experiences they have undergone in the story.


Monaco shares a useful insight into the nature of film when he states: “Considering how strongly denotative quality of film sounds and images, it is surprising to discover that these connotative abilities are very much part of the film language.”51

As literature has a rich legacy of using figurative language, from symbolism to metaphors, from allusion to motifs, so has cinema built up an armoury of figures of speech it can use, albeit on a much smaller scale than in novels and poems.

In film, these figures of speech are non-verbal and are conveyed through visual images.

Sometimes, a director will develop a visual motif in a systematic way to reinforce the film’s theme or suggest associations. In the 1954 samurai drama, Seven Samurai, Kurosawa repeats the motif of circular shapes, perhaps to suggest the balance which samurai warriors try to reach so that they can be efficient in the execution of their defensive actions. In Red Desert, Antonioni associates certain colours with inner states of the main character, played magnificently by Monica Vitti, while using other colours symbolically to make suggestions about the deterioration of the environment caused by industrialisation in Italy. Motifs can be shapes, colours and even musical themes associated with some characters.

Symbols represent a meaning beyond the object, for example, a cross for Christianity or a swastika for Nazism. There’s a stunning opening scene in Fellini’s 1960 film, La Dolce Vita, (“The Sweet Life”) when a helicopter transports a dangling giant statue of Christ to Rome. We then see some bikini-clad women at a rooftop swimming pool in a juxtaposition which conveys visually the themes of “sacred and sensual” which are explored in this portrait of the city, once the seat of the church. The roaring statue of the lion in Battleship Potemkin is a symbol of the people’s revolt. The rotting pond in Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel (1948), filled with garbage, is symbolic of the corruption of the gang-infested underworld in post-war Tokyo.

A metaphor is a comparison between two things which is not literally true, such as “my love is like a red, red rose”. A filmmaker can put different objects together in time or space to compare them.

Films, like poetry, can make use of metonymy, whereby an object or idea is represented by part of it, as in speaking of the crown to represent a monarchy. A sabre in the Odessa steps sequence can represent the brutality of the Tsarist army killing its own people in quelling a revolt. A shattered pair of spectacles in the same scene can represent the death of the person wearing them. The runaway pram on the Odessa steps conveys the idea of a mother losing control of her child after she’s been shot.

Likewise, synecdoche may be used, where the whole stands for the part, or the part stands for the whole, as in describing a car as a set of wheels or in the saying “all hands on deck” (where “hands” refer to sailors or the crew). Monaco identified a good use of synecdoche in Red Desert, in the scene when the main character, Giuliana, feels overwhelmed by all the huge pipes and machinery surrounding her during her visit to the factory where her husband is the boss. The parts of machines shown in the scene represent the whole of industrial society. It’s the big picture of a totally changed landscape, of which the factory is only a part, which has so alienated her.


While films mimic the novel in providing a story for the audience to enjoy, the transmission of the story’s information is through living, sensory imagery embedded within a soundscape. Film art also mimics poetry in working with associations, connotations and suggestions. Some films are closer to the novel in focusing on the narrative structure, while other films are overtly poetic, such as Aleksandr Sokurov’s memorable impressionistic poetic drama, Mother and Son (1997), while others blend both poetic and novelistic elements, as John Ford did in his spectacular, poignant Western The Searchers (1956).

The best film art can help us to become more human, more aware, more soulful, more understanding and even more intelligent, deepening us. This can be achieved by portraying truth and beauty in ways that speak to the whole being of the viewer, reaching through his/her senses to the mind and spirit.

In conclusion, I agree with Tarkovsky that cinema has the potential, with its highly textured lifelikeness and with the emotive, associative power of its imagery and soundscape, to be “most truthful and poetic of art forms”.52 And perhaps there’s something inherently poetic about capturing the passage of time through reality, what the Russian director called impressions of time, thus reaching a representation of the exquisite fullness of human life-experiences?


  1. Ascher, S & Pincus, E, 2019 (1983). The Film-Maker’s Handbook – A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (5th Edition), p.7.
  2. Arnheim, R, 2007 (1957). Film as Art (50th Anniversary Printing), p.5.
  3. Arnheim, p. 27.
  4. Bobker, L.R., 1979. Elements of Film (3rd Edition), p. 75.
  5. Arnheim, p. 181. Every action takes place in time and space. The director builds up his/her own rhythm of time through the length of shots and through the passage of time in the story covered in the movie.
  6. Bresson, R, 1975. Notes on the Cinematograph, p. 7.
  7. Bresson, p. 9.
  8. Pudovkin, I. V., (2008) (1929,1933). Film Technique and Film Acting – the Cinema Writings of V.I.Pudovkin, p. 54. In Film Acting, Pudovkin maintained that the essence of cinema was “the perception and realisation of the camera-microphone combination as an observer ideally mobile in space and time” (Pudovkin, p. 36).
  9. Arnheim, p. 181-2.
  10. Bobker, p.8.
  11. Pudovkin, Film Acting, p. 102.
  12. Pudovkin, Film Acting, p. 45.
  13. Pudovkin, Film Acting, p.44.
  14. Pudovkin, Film Technique, p. 174.
  15. Kurosawa, A, 1983. Something Like an Autobiography, p. 191.
  16. Kurosawa, p. 192.
  17. Monaco, J, 2009 (1977). How to Read a Film – Movies, Media and Beyond (4th Edition), p. 32.
  18. Bobker, p. 146.
  19. Nowell-Smith, G (ed), 1997. The Oxford History of World Cinema, p. 3.
  20. Bohm, D, 1996. On Creativity, p.34.
  21. Arnheim, p. 203.
  22. Tarkovsky, p. 192.
  23. Monaco, p. 24.
  24. Arnheim, R, 1971. Entropy and Art – an Essay on Disorder and Order, p. 34. Bear in mind, however, that Arnheim also stated: “order…is a necessary although not a sufficient condition of aesthetic excellence” (p. 51). Order alone doesn’t equate to beauty or harmony.
  25. Tarkovsky, p.168. The Russian filmmaker was alarmed at the spiritual vacuum of the times he lived in, declaring that if art becomes devoid of spirituality, it will carry “its own tragedy within it.” (p.168)
  26. Tarkovsky, p.36.
  27. Pudovkin, Film Acting, p. 13.
  28. Antonioni, M, 1996. The Architecture of Vision – Writings and Interviews on Cinema, p.366. It is encouraging that it isn’t so difficult for the viewer to enjoy this personal experience of watching a film at an artistic level: “it takes little enough to appreciate art: a sensitive, subtle, suggestible soul, open to beauty and good, capable of spontaneous aesthetic experience…I believe that sensitivity to art is given at birth…” (Tarkovsky, p.172).
  29. Monaco, p. 35.
  30. Collingwood, R.G., 2011 (1938). The Principles of Art, p. XIV, 4.
  31. The most artistic motion pictures are the ones which exploit all the unique advantages of cinema, blending all of its available dimensions into a seamless whole which impacts the viewer’s sense of reality. All art seems to possess this powerful wholeness, by which a complex sequence of many pieces seems to fit effortlessly into one coherent visionary experience. The thoughts and emotions of audiences from various times and places can be influenced and even altered through the experience of art, inspiring them to respond to the work as a whole person.
  32. Tarkovsky argued that “observation is the first principle of the image” (p.107), saying that “the image as a precise observation of life takes us straight back to Japanese poetry” (106).
  33. Tarkovsky, p.24, 26.
  34. Bordwell, D & Thompson, K, 1997. Film Art – An Introduction (5th Edition), p.316.
  35. Pudovkin, p. 156.
  36. Bresson, p. 37.
  37. Kurosawa, p. 108.
  38. Kurosawa, p. 108.
  39. Monaco, p. 140.
  40. Tarkovsky, p.114.
  41. Pudovkin, p. 90.
  42. Arnheim, p. 87.
  43. Monaco, p. 142.
  44. “Perhaps narrative is a fundamental way that humans make sense of the world.” (Bordwell & Thompson, p.89.)
  45. Bordwell & Thompson, p. 90.
  46. Antonioni, p. 151.
  47. Bobker, p. 65.
  48. Bobker, p. 61.
  49. Tarkovsky, p. 25.
  50. Bobker, p. 179.
  51. Monaco, p. 180.
  52. Tarkovsky, p.18. “No other art can compare with cinema in the force, precision and starkness with which it conveys awareness of facts and aesthetic structures existing and changing within time.” (Tarkovsky, p.69)


Antonioni, M, 1996.  The Architecture of Vision – Writings and Interviews on Cinema. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Arnheim, R, 1971. Entropy and Art – an Essay on Disorder and Order. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Arnheim, R, 2007 (1957). Film as Art (50th Anniversary Printing). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ascher, S & Pincus, E, 2019 (1983). The Film-Maker’s Handbook – A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (5th Edition). Plume, Penguin Random House.

Bergan, R, 2011. The Film Book – A Complete Guide to the World of Cinema. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.

Bobker, L.R., 1979.  Elements of Film (3rd Edition). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Bohm, D, 1996. On Creativity. London and New York: Routledge Classics.

Bordwell, D & Thompson, K, 1997. Film Art – An Introduction (5th Edition). The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Bresson, R, 1975. Notes on the Cinematograph. New York: New York Review Books.

Collingwood, R.G., 2011 (1938). The Principles of Art. Redditch: Read Books, Ltd.

Dovzhenko, A, 1973. Alexander Dovzhenko – The Poet as Filmmaker – Selected Writings. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Eisenstein, S, 2017(1984).  The Short-Fiction Scenario. London: Seagull Books.

Giannetti, L.D., 1976. Understanding Movies (2nd Edition). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Halliwell, L, 1985 (1965).  Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion (8th Edition). London: Paladin Books.

Katz, E & Nolen, R.D., 2012. The Film Encyclopedia – the Complete Guide to Film and the Film Industry (7th Edition). New York: HarperCollins.

Kurosawa, A, 1983. Something Like an Autobiography. New York: Vintage Books.

Miyao, D (ed), 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Monaco, J, 2009 (1977). How to Read a Film – Movies, Media and Beyond (4th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nowell-Smith, G (ed), 1997. The Oxford History of World Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pudovkin, I. V., (2008) (1929,1933). Film Technique and Film Acting – the Cinema Writings of V.I.Pudovkin. New York: Bonanza Books.

Tarkovsky, A, 1986. Sculpting in Time – Reflections on the Cinema. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Tuohy, A, & Glasby, M, 2018 (2015). A to Z Great Film Directors.  London: Cassell (Octopus Publishing Group).

Wenders, W, 1995. My Time with Antonioni. London: Faber and Faber Ltd.


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