A Short History of Film

A Short History of Film
By Wheeler Winston Dixon, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

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Product Description

A Short History of Film, Second Edition, provides a concise and accurate overview of the history of world cinema, detailing the major movements, directors, studios, and genres from 1896 through 2012. Accompanied by more than 250 rare color and black-and-white stills--including many from recent films--the new edition is unmatched in its panoramic view, conveying a sense of cinema's sweep in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries as it is practiced in the United States and around the world.

Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster present new and amended coverage of the industry in addition to updating the birth and death dates and final works of notable directors. Their expanded focus on key films brings the book firmly into the digital era and chronicles the death of film as a production medium.

The book takes readers through the invention of the kinetoscope, the introduction of sound and color between the two world wars, and ultimately the computer-generated imagery of the present day. It details significant periods in world cinema, including the early major industries in Europe, the dominance of the Hollywood studio system in the 1930s and 1940s, and the French New Wave of the 1960s. Attention is given to small independent efforts in developing nations and the more personal independent film movement that briefly flourished in the United States, the significant filmmakers of all nations, and the effects of censorship and regulation on production everywhere. In addition, the authors incorporate the stories of women and other minority filmmakers who have often been overlooked in other texts.

"This book provides an overview of the last hundred plus years of international film history. For a compact volume, 384 pages of text, it provides surprisingly comprehensive coverage. A good and affordable reference guide for students of film."--Saul J. Amdursky (PLA)

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #285529 in Books
  • Brand: Wheeler Winston Dixon
  • Published on: 2013-02-15
  • Released on: 2013-01-18
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 10.00" h x 7.00" w x 1.25" l, 2.22 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 496 pages


  • A Short History of Film

Editorial Reviews


"This is the film history book we've been waiting for."
(David Sterritt chairman, National Society of Film Critics)

"A Short History of Film is a comprehensive and detailed overview of the last 100 years of international film history. It will prove to be a useful reference tool for all students of film, both in and out of the classroom."
(Paula J. Massood Brooklyn College, CUNY 1999-01-01)

"A new history of international film at an affordable price. Nothing like those text book prices for a change. Includes perspectives on women and minorities in film along with innovations in technology, genres, studios, and conglomerates."
(Stephanie Ogle Cinema Books 1999-01-01)

"With the goal of offering 'a fast paced tour' of movie history, Dixon and Foster have produced a study in the tradition of Paul Rotha's The Film till Now. The authors touch all the bases--they address new trends in international moviemaking, technologies, and critical theory and the emergence of new national and ethnic cinemas--and relate film history to social history. Each new technique, style, school, trend, and newly visible ethnic or feminist group takes its place in the larger history, and Dixon and Foster make it all accessible to the neophyte reader without ever breaking the pace. Uncommonly well-reproduced stills and a topically organized bibliography enhance the discussion. Highly recommended."
(Choice 2008-08-01)

"This excellent introduction stands out in a crowded field with its lively, accessible writing, broad coverage, and particular focus on traditionally marginalized figures in film history...the most striking aspect of the book is the coverage of women, African Americans, and Third World filmmakers, which strongly complements its solid coverage of American and European film. Illustrations abound, and even the best-versed cineaste will find new films to track down after reading the breezy, enthusiastic analysis in this book. Highly recommended for all collections, this text would also make an excellent textbook for introductory film-studies courses."
(Library Journal, starred review 1999-01-01)

"A Short History of Film is the best 'one-stop shopping' volume on cinema history I have ever read. It offers not only thoroughness and concision, but also encourages meaningful browsing, as readers can pick and choose their topics of particular interest and then move on as desired."
(Catherine Ritchie Dallas Public Library 2012-04-14)

From the Back Cover
Selected as an Outstanding University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Usage, American Association of University PressesSelected as a Most Significant University Press Title for undergraduates by Choice.

About the Author
Wheeler Winston Dixon is the James Ryan Endowed Professor of Film Studies, University of Nebraska. He is editor of the 'Quarterly Review of Film and Video' and his publications include 'Visions of Apocalypse: Spectacles of Destruction in American Cinema' (20030 and 'Experimental Cinema: The Film Reader' (2002). Gwendolyn Audrey Foster is a professor, Department of English, University of Nebraska. Her books include 'Class Passing: Social Mobility in Film and Popular Culture' (2005).

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
3Perhaps a too *short* history of film
Dixon and Foster's book is good for what it is: a relatively inexpensive brusque survey of film history. The shortcoming of the book is that it does little besides list significant films, offer passing commentaries on them, and very briefly cover major technological, industry, and legal events that shaped film history. Now, if that is all you want from a film history book, then this one will do you just fine, and I perhaps if you know relatively little about the history of film this isn't a bad primer (though there are numerous documentaries available online that will do a better job of *showing* you the history). I, however, rather wish I had bought a "cultural history" of film, which would have done more to place the story of film in a broader cultural light, or a more comprehensive history, which would have been more in-depth, analytical, and scholarly. (Many of the technological innovations explained in the book, for example, are so quickly discussed that I often had to look them up online to get a real sense of what they were.) Having said that, the book is generally well-written (though at many times the narrative thread drops away as the authors discuss in passing one example after another), and it deserves praise for being broadly inclusive by representing world cinema as equal to American cinema and recognizing the long-ignored contributions of women to film. I occasionally use it now as a reference book, and it can come in handy in that capacity but even then I often have to supplement it with online research or other print sources.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
5Best introductory history of film book yet
By LJ Clay
Was assigned this great book for a history of film class and loved it! I found myself reading way past my assignments again and again. Well written, interesting, and a pleasure to read.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
3Three Stars
By Amazon Customer
Just a little raggedy

See all 16 customer reviews...

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