Book Review: The Language of Film

The book ‘the language of film‘, released in April 2010, examines the topic of how film communicates its meaning to the audience.

The authors show which factors have to be considered while producing a film. They start with the basics such as a good story (obviously), the aesthetic choice of framing, light and camera. Furthermore, they deal with the topics semiotics, narrative, intertextuallity, ideology and framing of images as well as constructing meaning. The style of the book is detailed. It explains complex facts in a very clear and concise way.

The structure of the book allows the reader to skip chapters. It is possible to read the book not only linearly, but to jump around in it, without getting lost. A clear and concise design facilitates the navigation throughout the book.

The running glossary explains technical terms as soon as they appear, there is no need to constantly look stuff up. Highlighted thinking points discuss interesting aspects and inspire the reader to reflect the topic. Further reading tips help pave the way to more knowlegde.

The fact that all those details are arranged at the sides of the pages makes it easy for the reader to still concentrate on the main text. Case studies at the end of each chapter exemplify the theoretical knowledge. There are many stills which are analyzed to visually explain the theoretical aspects.

All those references are integrated in the design without losing clarity. Case studies at the end of each chapter help to understand the theoretical part by using examples of famous films or films which are published on the ava books website.

The book contains a lot of practical exercises which makes it a great textbook. It appeals to both beginners and professionals by giving a broad overview of the field and then using interesting examples for each detail. The reader will be able to reflect upon small details of films as well as the big picture.

However, folks hoping to find a book which explains everything about framing, storytelling and co should look elsewhere. The main focus of the title are the technical and conceptual aspects of film and which reactions it evokes in the audience.

(With thanks to Katrin Förtsch for help on research and review.)