SIFF 2012 – The Story of Film: an Odyssey ****

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 19, 2012)

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The Story of Film: an Odyssey is one long-ass movie. Consider the title. It literally is the story of film, from the 1890s through last Tuesday. At 15 hours, it is nearly as epic an undertaking for the viewer as it must have been for director-writer-narrator Mark Cousins. Originally aired as a 15-part TV series in the UK, it has been making the rounds on the festival circuit as a five-part presentation. While the usual suspects are well-represented, Cousins’ choices for in-depth analysis are atypical (e.g. he has a particular predilection for African and Middle-Eastern cinema). That quirkiness is what I found most endearing about this idiosyncratic opus; world cinema enjoys equal time with Hollywood. The film is not without tics. Cousins’ oddly cadenced Irish brogue requires steely acclimation, and he has a tendency to over-use the word “masterpiece”. Of course, he “left out” many directors and films I would have included. Nits aside, this is obviously a labor of love by someone passionate about film, and if you claim to be, you have an obligation to see this.

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