Desley Deacon reviews 'Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s filmmakers changed movie storytelling' by David Bordwell

Desley Deacon reviews 'Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s filmmakers changed movie storytelling' by David Bordwell

Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s filmmakers changed movie storytelling

by David Bordwell

University of Chicago Press (Footprint), $84.99 hb, 572 pp, 9780226487755

With the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement reminding us all too vividly of flesh and blood Hollywood, David Bordwell’s cerebral Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s filmmakers changed movie storytelling seems to come from another planet. But Bordwell, who is the Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has spent a lifetime writing about ‘the genius of the system’ that is classical Hollywood, rather than the system’s individual geniuses. Generations of film students have absorbed his 1979 textbook Film Art: An introduction, now in its eleventh edition and translated into at least ten languages. His seventeen-plus books (many co-authored with his wife, Kristin Thompson), his long tenure on the editorial board of Cinema Journal, his blog, and his numerous consultancies all over the world make him one of the most influential film scholars of his generation. His planet, therefore, is mainstream American academia.

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