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Ian Briggs » Film Review: The Story of Film – An Odyssey

Film Review: The Story of Film – An Odyssey

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 17th April 2012 at 9:32 pm

Categories: Films | Tags: , , , , | No comments

I’m just back from hearing Mark Cousins discuss his latest cinematic masterpiece “The Story of Film: An Odyssey” at the QFT in Belfast.

The last time I heard Cousins was at a screening of his last documentary film “The First Movie” which I wrote about here.  This was part of the Belfast Film Festival, at which Cousins also spoke at a discussion on censorship in film.  Having heard him previously, I was delighted to hear that he was appearing in Belfast again.

The evening started with a screening of a much-abridged version of the film (for it is not a TV series!).  This picked out some of the highlights of the 15-hour work and was followed by a wonderful discussion, with Cousins being questioned by fellow Belfast filmmaker Brian Henry Martin and members of the audience.

Isn’t it great to listen to someone talk so passionately about what they do?  This is exactly what we were treated to tonight, with Cousins speaking eloquently about content of his work, the difficulties and logistics of travelling the globe to film the movie, finding funding, and interviewing the directors, producers and actors who contributed to the footage.

Mark Cousins in discussion with Brian Henry Martin at the QFT

Mark Cousins in discussion with Brian Henry Martin at the QFT

He spoke about the great films that many of us won’t ever see: from Iran, Japan and Eastern Europe, and also touched on his interesting belief that every nation lacks belief in their own body of film; while we are quick to point out that most of what emerges from America is not high quality material, he says that many people from other countries say the same about their own national work.

On the subject of “The Story of Film…”, it was interesting to hear his response to criticism about his narration style (which I thought was great, and reflected the passion with which he created the film). It seems the less-than-favourable reaction was considerably less pronounced outside the UK. Sad that this should detract attention from the content of the film itself, containing over 1000 clips showing the history of innovation in cinema, which as Sukhdev Sandhu sums up perfectly in a comprehensive review in the Telegraph:

In a television landscape that fears international cinema or any movie deemed challenging or original, this selection deserves to be celebrated.

Ultimately the most enjoyable thing about hearing Mark Cousins talk about his work is his infectious enthusiasm about film. You get the impression that he could talk for days on the subject and not repeat himself.  It was great to see so many people turn out to hear and meet a brilliant local filmmaker.  A great evening, and the DVD box-set is on pre-order…

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