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Understanding Movies: The Art and History of Film

The Modern Scholar
Length: 7 hrs and 9 mins
4 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Why does the cinema have the power to move the heart, stimulate the mind, and dazzle the imagination? How did the art of film develop from its origins to the present day?

This course covers the history and aesthetics of the movies. It traces the experiments and innovations that gave rise to the modern cinema, developing a vocabulary that helps explain the variety of choices filmmakers make when they construct shots and edit them together.

In each lecture, Professor Raphael Shargel introduces a period of film history, talks about its importance, covers aspects of cinematic technique, and illustrates his points by analyzing specific movies from the era under discussion. The course thus has both breadth and depth, covering the major movements in film history while at the same time focusing on key pictures worthy of study and enjoyment.

©2008 Raphael Shargel (P)2008 Recorded Books,LLC

What listeners say about Understanding Movies: The Art and History of Film

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable, but deserves concentration

I love film as the most democratic of the arts. I thought I would be able to listen to this book "on the move". But it proved to be quite dense in parts. So I finished up listening to it relaxing in my easy chair.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Savvy
  • 25-09-2014

It's better than everybody else is saying

Any additional comments?

Every other review mentions the normal noises the narrator makes and it just isn't as big a deal as everybody else is making it to be. Listening to the book is a perfectly fine experience; the content is superb if you're interested in the history of cinema.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Vales Tales
  • 20-04-2015

As a mini-course: just fine

I think this audio program gets a very bad rap. It's not a book, it's a little course or series of lectures. And as such, it's well recorded, very easy to understand, interesting, and well worth your time if you're interested in the subject.

All of the reviews pointing out the mouth noises, etc. as being "too distracting" or taking stars off because of that, either have ever heard recordings of lectures but how much were found on this, or expecting a professional reader reading a book.

This is not that. it's a very interesting course, put together, and read by the professor himself. It serves it's purpose well, and if you find the subject interesting, you will not have a problem with the so-called "mouth noises" or whatever.

Highly recommended for aficionados, fans, students of film and filmmakers

2 people found this helpful

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  • ESK
  • 22-07-2012

Educational! But ...the mike's too close!

What about the narrator’s performance did you like?

Mr. Shargel is a passionate and charismatic lecturer, compelling to listen to. But he's a hard swallower, I must admit. But anyway, if you're interested in film studies, don't hesitate to buy it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Caprat
  • 19-03-2017

Great Movie Primer

Would you listen to Understanding Movies: The Art and History of Film again? Why?

I would listen to this audible book again because I think it deserves multiple listening to fully appreciate the subject.

What other book might you compare Understanding Movies: The Art and History of Film to and why?

This is more a film history book and fits into the Modern Scholar Library. I haven't listened to a book on this subject that is comparable.

Which character – as performed by the narrator – was your favorite?

People have complained about the Narrator. I will say at first I did notice his "small" speech peculiarities but really it was not that bad and the subject interested me enough that it was no big deal. I honestly feel if you like films and want to know more about film history this is a great addition to your library. If you don't, well you will complain about the narrator.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

This really isn't applicable to this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • thatsacando
  • 24-09-2012

Great information/passion. Obnoxious mouth noises.

What made the experience of listening to Understanding Movies: The Art and History of Film the most enjoyable?

The information, really. The narrator seemed to be passionate about the material.

What did you like best about this story?

A lot of information presented with excitement in a digestible way.

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrator?

Only if he can get a handle on his mouth noises. Or an editor cut them out.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

Between the narrator and whoever produced or quality checked the audio, someone should have said something about the mouth noises and swallowing. Obnoxious and really distracting, which is a shame because the information and passion is there.

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  • Nadia
  • 28-09-2011

Great info, but author should watch mouth noises

This is great info, and I am learning a lot. But, I have a real pet peeve about mouth noises (saliva or lack thereof), swallowing. The microphone picks up everything and well, it's a little gross, to be honest. Like I said, he's great, but the noises and swallowing are getting in the way of my total enjoyment. It could be remedied with hydration or pulling away from the mic when he pauses to swallow.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Quentin Bacon
  • 15-03-2010

Great, but offensive sound throughout

Great author and book, but if you're listening whith an ipod and you find drinking, cotten mouth and swalling offensive, you're going to have a hard time. How could such a good book receive such a poor recording?

7 people found this helpful

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  • QueenZii
  • 26-08-2020

good book

Its a good book yet the narrator makes this asmr noise i don't like. Its like he's wetting his mouth or drinking something... its weird when i have headphones on.

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  • Some Random Customer
  • 02-05-2017

Good Information But Regrettable Recording

I learned a lot about the origins of film, and I liked the conversational nature of Professor Raphael Shargel, but this recording has been a challenge for me because of how it picks up his constant swallowing. The audio is perhaps too good at picking it up, because after about 15 minutes of a listening session, I start to become completely repulsed by the sound of it.

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  • Kuba Ryszkiewicz
  • 27-10-2016

quite good

more history and recaping the story in films than analisis. overall the book was ok but if you know the films parts where the author retells the story a bit boring

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Howard
  • 18-02-2012

Pace, Passion... and Gulping

Recommended for its energy and enthusiasm - this is an enthralling gallop through the history of cinema.

The focus is on Prof. Shargel's taste for the Art within film-making so it is personal and subjective. His contempt for vacuous Hollywood action movies is evident! But his exploration is never showy or high-minded, grounded as it is, in the speakers humility, his authentic love of film and its power to touch the human soul. The theme of each illuminating lecture (14 in all) is well chosen and leads naturally into the next.

One minor complaint; Shargel seems to suffer from an excess of saliva production - his delivery is peppered with squelchy gulps which slightly grossed me out! Once over this however, I was riveted for the duration - even by areas which I feared may be dull.

Left me feeling inspired to re-watch some classics and seek out some hitherto unknown films. Great stuff.

5 people found this helpful

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  • anna
  • 18-06-2013

Very interesting.. highly recomended..

What did you like about this audiobook?

Interesting and catching attention interpretation of films. Listening to the lectures has changed they way I will look and think about films. I bought few audiobooks about films and this is definitely the best one, comes with access to on-line resources which is a bonus.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

Mr Shargel is very passionate and convincing about films and that makes listening even more interesting (not like some emotionless narrators), great knowledge!

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

The performance could be improved a bit .. but content is worth listening despite some faults in performance..

Do you have any additional comments?

Very much recommended for film students and anyone interested in films - you will look at films in a new way after listening to these lectures..

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-03-2020

So interesting, I learned so much!

Great variety of films discussed, interesting insights and questions posed to the listener. Would happily listen all over again!

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  • Aneta Milanowska
  • 15-07-2016

Course not for begginers

Tip: watch all the movies mentioned before starting this course.
I am a person who loves watching movies, but knows little about the history of film. I was greatly confused by this course and although I did learn new things, I felt that I don't have sufficient knowledge to get the most of it.