Here is something to watch that will make you want to stay up all night. The Story of Film: An Odyssey is a series of six visually stunning and surprising film essays on the history of film. Written and directed by Marc Cousins, the series shows us important innovations in film making and reflects how they change film culture and resonate across the world. Cousins’ world does not start with Hollywood. He says (and shows) that film is not just about money. We learn about Scandinavian and Japanese and Iranian and French film, but Hollywood is not scorned. What he selects as important innovations in film making might not be what you expected, but he shows them and traces their influence. In this insightful illustrated history, an idea or aesthetic (the Danish use of light, Charlie Chaplin’s choreography) might express a single culture and/or ripple across cultures as artists find inspiration in one another. A sequence of clips is like stones of light and movement skipping across the universe. Cousins’s voice is Irish-accented and gently provocative. The blending of image and voice-over gives us a hybrid essay-documentary that opens our eyes to aspects of film we have never seen before. The Story of Film achieves a poetry that is captivating and unexpected. Cousins really loves film. The way he revisions and rethinks its history from an intimate and yet globally inclusive perspective, and the way he stitches his images into the almost hypnotic lilt of his voice, is worth staying up for.
– Jody Berland
The series has finished broadcasting on TCM, but is available on DVD at local video stores such as 2Q in Toronto, and on Netflix.