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.
The 1920s were a golden age for world cinema. In this part, we visit Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai and Tokyo to discover the places where movie makers were pushing the boundaries of the medium. German Expressionism, Soviet montage, French impressionism and surrealism were passionate new film movements, but less well known are the glories of Chinese and Japanese films and the moving story of one of the great, now forgotten, movie stars: Ruan Lingyu.
In part 4, we see how the coming of sound in the 1930s upended everything. We watch the birth of new types of film: screwball comedies, gangster pictures, horror films, westerns and musicals, and discover a master of most of them: Howard Hawks. Far away from Hollywood, in England Alfred Hitchcock hits his stride and French directors become masters of mood. And we discover that three of the great films of 1939 – The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and Ninotchka – have something in common.