Brimming with movie lore and more than 1,000 brilliantly juxtaposed clips, this 15-hour distillation of 115 years of cinema could only have been made by a cinephile as voracious as critic Mark Cousins, whose 2004 book of the same name won praise for its global and personal perspective on film history. This idiosyncratic valentine to the quintessential 20th-century art form champions both the glories of classic Hollywood and the lesser-known corners of the film universe, throwing the spotlight on some of Cousins’ favorite unsung auteurs and drawing surprising connections among far-flung film communities. Featuring interviews with a who’s who of contemporary masters (including Abbas Kiarostami, Wim Wenders, and Claire Denis), The Story of Film examines the nuts and bolts of film poetics while also maintaining a deep appreciation for the medium’s abiding mysteries.
Star Wars, Jaws and The Exorcist created the multiplexes, but they were also innovative. This episode explains how, and then travels to India where the world’s most famous movie star, Amitabh Bachchan, shows how Bollywood was doing new things in the 70s. And we discover that Bruce Lee movies kickstarted the kinetic films of Hong Kong, where Master Yuen Wo Ping talks about his action movies and his wire fu choreography for The Matrix.
With Ronald Reagan in the White House and Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street, the 1980s were the years of protest in the movies. This is the story of how brave filmmakers spoke truth to power. American independent director John Sayles talks exclusively about these years. In Beijing we discover the blossoming of Chinese cinema before the Tian’anmen crackdown. In the Soviet Union, the past wells up in astonishing films, and in Poland the master director Krzysztof Kieslowski emerges.