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Best Film-Related Textbook?

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When I taught an online film course on film and apologetics last summer, I used a variety of textbooks, but the foundational "history of movies / definition of genres / global survey" text was The Film Book by Ronald Bergan. 

And, from the time I posted the syllabus to the time the students actually purchased the book, Amazon's "new" stock disappeared, and the students went scrambling to find used copies (often at high prices).

I'm teaching a new film course starting in January. I need a new foundational text that provides a primer in film history, genres,  technical aspects of filmmaking, etc. For the "and theology" part of the course, we'll be using Reel Spirituality by Robert Johnston and Visual Faith by William Dyrness, along with Through a Screen Darkly.

Any recommendations?

I'm not looking for something narrowly focused — like Schrader's book on existentialism and film, or Sculpting in Time (although I plan to discuss excerpts of those books).

 

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I posted on Facebook, but it bears repeating. David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson's excellent FILM ART: AN INTRODUCTION and FILM HISTORY are really the gold standard of film primers, with excellent formal analysis and examples.

If you want something less dense and more accessible, at our institution we use FILM: A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION by Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis for all three of our first year courses (Film and Narrative, Film and Genre, Film and the Image).

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Yeah, I'm with Anders.  I took a college film class in ye olde autumne of Year of Our Lord 1991 that used the then-current version of Bordwell and Thompson's FILM ART, and it's still one of my favorite film books.  Nice combination of film history and history of techniques, with discussion of the two woven together and tons of illustrative screen captures.  It's a book that your students who get hooked on the film thing will refer to forever.

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What Russ and Anders said.  My copy (bought the day that Darren and I took in a Bruce Cockburn concert together, actually) still has a prominent place on my shelf.

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