The Hitler Filmography: Worldwide Feature Film and Television Miniseries Portrayals, 1940 through 2000 (review)
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 33, Number 1, 2003
- pp. 84-85
- Additional Information
Book Reviews | Regular Feature helps you hack your way through the verbiage. In the end, though, Pencak does not have the imaginative grasp to qualify as this artist's critic-brother. Instead, he holds out his hand, yearns for closeness, and finds his fingers clasping the air. David Lancaster The University of Leeds. firstname.lastname@example.org Kristin Thompson. Storytelling in the /New/ Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique. Harvard University Press, 1999. 432 pages; $26.50 Ten Films To date, Kristin Thompson is arguably best known as one of the co-writers (along with David Bordwell and Janet Staiger) of The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (Columbia UP 1985). While the book is an invaluable text, its main goal is to chronicle in large-scale the filmmaking practices of the studio era; as such, in-depth analyses of individual films is in short supply. Conversely, Thompson's Storytelling in the New Hollywood traces the typical narrative patterns of contemporary Hollywood filmmaking as illustrated through meticulously detailed analyses of ten comparatively recent films. The result is a fascinating book that sheds great light on contemporary narrative filmmaking and its connections to the classical Hollywood era. Thompson's most interesting claim is that filmmaking in the "New Hollywood" hasn't changed nearly so much from the days of the studio system as one might initially think. As she puts it, "Hollywood continues to succeed through its skill in telling strong stories based on fast-paced action and characters with clear psychological traits. The ideal American film still centers around a well-structured, carefully motivated series ofevents that the spectator can comprehend relatively easily" (8). In her excellent introduction, Thompson establishes what she sees as the basic tenets of the narrative structure of Hollywood films, both past and present. Ofparticular interest is her dissection of the three act model, which posits that films can typically be divided into three parts as follows: 1/4 - 1/2 -1/4. Thompson convincingly refutes this model, claiming instead that a close examination ofmost films reveals that there are instead fourroughly equal parts, which she calls "the setup, the complicating action, the development, and the climax" (28). In the main body ofthe text, Thompson applies her theories about New Hollywood narratives to ten films. The movies Thompson analyzes are primarily widely popular films with which most people would have some familiarity; in addition, her writing is crisp and captivating, making Storytelling in the New Hollywood accessible and enjoyable for novices and experts and alike. Thompson eschews the dominant mode of current film criticism in that she doesn't analyze the films in the context of their "message " and the way it's revealed; instead, she offers insight into how the movies' narratives are structured so as to best capture and hold the attention of their audience. In her in-depth analyses on the structural similarities of such seemingly diverse films as Back to the Future, Desperately Seeking Susan, Alien, andHannah andHer Sisters, Thompson effectively proves her points and elucidates the craft that goes into filmic storytelling. While it was perhaps unnecessary for Thompson to have included analyses on as many different films as she does, Storytelling in the New Hollywood ultimately validates her claim that "Hollywood filmmaking, contrary to the voices announcing a 'post-classical' cinema of rupture, fragmentation, and postmodern incoherence, remains firmly rooted in a tradition which has flourished for eighty years and shows every sign of continuing" (336). And, despite claims to the contrary from certain critics, maybe that is not such a bad thing after all. Robert Sickels Whitman College sickelrc @whitman.edu Charles P. Mitchell. The Hitler Filmography: Worldwide Feature Film and Television Miniseries Portrayals, 1940 through 2000. McFarland, 2002. 303 pages; $49.95. Modern Beelzebub By all accounts, the mere mention ofAdolfHitler—theAustrian -born founder of the German Nazi Party and Third Reich 84 I Film & History Book Reviews | Regular Feature Chancellor—conjures up an image of the most detestable figure in recent history, a modem Beelzebub whose legacy embodies only horror, mayhem, and extermination, a fiendish nationalist responsible for untold misery and ruin. But at the same time, his mustachioed face has...