How to Read a Film : Movies, Media, and Beyond, Paperback

How to Read a Film : Movies, Media, and Beyond Paperback

1 out of 5 (1 rating)


Richard Gilman referred to How to Read a Film as simply "the best single work of its kind." And Janet Maslin in The New York Times Book Review marveled at James Monaco's ability to collect "an enormous amount of useful information and assemble it in an exhilaratingly simple and systematic way." Indeed, since its original publication in 1977, this hugely popular book has become the definitive source on film and media.

Now, James Monaco offers a special anniversary edition of his classic work, featuring a new preface and several new sections, including an "Essential Library: One Hundred Books About Film and Media You Should Read" and "One Hundred Films You Should See." As in previous editions, Monaco once again looks at film from many vantage points, as both art and craft, sensibility and science, tradition and technology.

After examining film's close relation to other narrative media such as the novel, painting, photography, television, and even music, the book discusses the elements necessary to understand how films convey meaning, and, more importantly, how we can best discern all that a film is attempting to communicate. In addition, Monaco stresses the ever-evolving digital context of film throughout-one of the new sections looks at the untrustworthy nature of digital images and sound-and his chapter on multimedia brings media criticism into the twenty-first century with a thorough discussion of topics like virtual reality, cyberspace, and the proximity of both to film.

With hundreds of illustrative black-and-white film stills and diagrams, How to Read a Film is an indispensable addition to the library of everyone who loves the cinema and wants to understand it better.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 736 pages, 350 halftones, 75 line illus.
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Film theory & criticism
  • ISBN: 9780195321050



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I have read all of the fairly thick How to Read a Film by James Monaco. I don't believe that one can learn to read a film from this volume. I believe that its only merit is to introduce a few buzzwords or important names and to list a few hundred books that one might read to further the cinematic experience. For those buzzwords and the bibliography I have given the work one star instead of half a one.