In Glorious Technicolor: A Century of Film and How it Has Shaped Us, By Francine Stock

Paperback reviews of the week

Francine Stock's survey focuses on film's relationship with society, examining how cinema has both reflected and influenced the world beyond the multiplex. She shows, for example, how early documentaries such as Nanook of the North (1922) "flung open the shutters" of foreign lands, while American action movies of the 1970s and 1980s reinforced the closed and paranoid perspectives of the Cold War.

Stock's digressive style means the book lacks any cohesive thesis, and little attention is paid to non-Western films. But the text is refreshingly free of the jargon that mars much academic film studies, and Stock writes brilliantly on the allure of the movies: leaving the cinema is "like waking from the clutches of a dream so sweet and disarming that already the dreamer loses the power to describe it".

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