In the opening of Mark Cousins’ quite astonishing journey through the annals of film history there is an unlikely pairing between Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Blue.
In the opening of Mark
Cousins’ quite astonishing journey through the annals of film history there is
an unlikely pairing between Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Krzysztof
Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Blue. Though they are both very entirely different
films, Cousins uses them in his own distinct style to define, in his eyes, what
cinema is. “This is cinema” he astutely introduces.
As enigmatic as it is enlightening, The Story of Film: An Odyssey is essential for anybody looking to
be reintroduced with his or her favourite films or find something unexpected.
Cousins is lyrical in his approach, often making seemingly
unlikely comparisons and connections, but such is the idiosyncratic style of
his filmmaking and narration that The Story of Film is endlessly engaging. Hypnotic
almost. Inspired from his successful book of the same title, this 915-minute
film, that took over 6 years to make, imbues Cousins’ lifetime of knowledge and
enthusiasm for cinema upon the spectator. That he is able to thrust all of this
onto screen in an incisive, informative and, most importantly, entertaining style,
is a unique achievement.
As detailed and impressive as Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinema is, The Story of Film
transcends even the pertinent questions that Godard posed about our evolving
relationships with cinema. Included in Cousins’ journey through the entirety of
film history are interviews with the likes of Gus van Sant, Paul Schrader,
Bernardo Bertolucci and Baz Luhrmann. Cousins’ personal
highlights include an interview with Kyoko
Kagawa, actress in many of famed Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s films. To Cousins Ozu’s Tokyo Story is the finest achievement in cinema and meeting someone
who worked with the great man is clearly an honour and a privilege. To be able
to watch a filmmaker and critic exhibit such true enthusiasm reminds us of the
why we fell in love with the moving picture.
For those looking for an introduction into new cinemas and
new films, expect to find a variety on display, ranging from Taiwanese to Malian
cinema, Czech to Iranian. So important are these different cinemas to Cousins,
who considers them as vital to the landscape of film as much as any other
cinema, you’ll be convinced to expand your diet in films however cultured you
may think your taste is.
As impossible a task as it is to fully review over 15 hours
of footage, perhaps the best approach to tackling this extraordinary
achievement is to take the plunge, dive straight in and lose yourself in the