Reading the Movies MEME

MovieMan0283 at The Dancing Image started a meme called “Reading the Movies”, where the writer lists their top 10 list of books on films that have been an inspiration. I haven’t read many film books (or at least that’s what I tell myself), and most of the following were required reading for my film-related classes. But they all have inspired me in some capacity, so enjoy the following. I look forward to checking out the other lists when I get the chance.

In order of their placement on my bookshelf…


Title: Awake in the Dark
Author: Roger Ebert
Inspiration: If there’s one thing that I like about Roger Ebert, it’s his unmistakable love of movies, and you can’t help but feel inspired by it.


Title: The Great Movies (Parts I and II)
Author: Roger Ebert
Inspiration: Ditto from above. And I believe this was the first time I read about Fellini.


Title: I Lost It at the Movies
Author: Pauline Kael
Inspiration: Pauline Kael has inspired me to watch several movies so that I can read her book intelligently. (It hasn’t happened yet)


Title: Celluloid Mavericks: A History of American Independent Film Making
Author: Greg Merrit
Inspiration: There’s something to be said about going back to early days of film, and Celluloid Mavericks does this well. I was introduced to the likes of Edgar Ulmer, Jim Jarmusch, John Cassavetes, Robert Aldrich, and Samuel Fuller. (We also watched some Lynch and Coen as well, who I was already familiar with). It was a great class.


Title: A New History of Documentary Film
Author: Jack C. Ellis
Inspiration: I hadn’t seen too many documentaries before taking this class, and wasn’t a big fan. I always thought of documentaries as stuffy, boring, and filled with talking heads. Little did I know how intriguing documentaries could be, and how narrative translate so well to them. If there’s one thing the I learned from this book, it’s that everyone has a story to tell. How you tell that story is another thing. I am now a fan of Albert & David Maysles, Errol Morris, D.A. Pennebaker, Steve James, and many others. I learned more about cinema verite, which is a favorite subject of mine.


Title: Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture
Author: Peter Kobel
Inspiration: I watched Greed and Sunrise. Is there anything else to say?


Title: Through a Screen Darkly
Author: Jeffrey Overstreet
Inspiration: Perhapy my biggest inspiration of all. Jeffrey encourages his readers to look closer and to seek out quality films. Auto-biographical in nature, the story of his forays into film are personally wonderful.


Title: European Cinema
Author: Elizabeth Ezra
Inspiration: Another film class textbook that introduced me to Ingmar Bergman, Sergei Eisenstein, Vittorio De Sica, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang, and many more.


Title: Story
Author: Robert Mckee
Inspiration: Highly recommended for writers of any kind. Stories are everywhere.


Title: Screenplay
Author: Syd Field
Inspiration: This falls into the same grouping as Story, but with more emphasis on the format of a script.

Consider yourself TAGGED.


One Response

  1. Joseph, Through a Screen Darkly has a great title and interesting cover – I’d love to know more. Were all of these titles (except for the Eberts and Kael) assigned reading for film classes? Glad you enjoyed your courses – and actually read the books! (I find my reading habits shrivel up to nothing when the reading is assigned, for some perverse reason.)

    I have not read the McKee or Field, but most screenwriting books seem to disappoint me. They always seem to be lacking “something” and I seldom find them very good impetuses to start or flesh out my writing – for whatever reason. Have you tried to apply these author’s lessons yourself, and if so how did it work?

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