New innovative book examines the ‘Essential Cinema’


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University film historian Jon Lewis has written and developed an innovative new book on film analysis and movie-making that creatively uses pictures, moving images, and even voice-over narration to make learning about films visual.

Essential Cinema” features an e-reader edition that includes more than 1,000 video clips and images to visually demonstrate, for instance, the difference between a jump cut edit and continuity editing in a movie.

“There are a lot of very good books written for introductory film classes,” Lewis said, pointing to David Bordwell’s “Film Art” as one popular text. “So I only agreed to do this project if we could take a radically different approach and make it different from anything else on the market.”

Despite the fact that movies are a visual art form, Lewis said most introductory film analysis books are heavy with textual information and tend to focus on thousands of movies, many of them obscure. His approach was to be much more visual, and to include more modern films that young people may recognize, such as “Jurassic Park,” “Run Lola Run,” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.”

“The book and e-reader covers the basics, what everyone should know,” Lewis said. “It has a basic overview, how movies are made, and the different stages of film production. What I think makes this project exciting is the interviews with film practitioners.”

Lewis, who is a professor in OSU’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film, conducted six interviews with professionals who are in the business of making movies, from Carol Littleton, editor of the blockbuster, “E.T,” to Ken Wannberg, a music editor who lives in Florence, Ore., and has worked on movies ranging from “Saving Private Ryan” to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” The interviews are part of the extensive online component to the electronic edition of the book.

“I think it is unusual to get the perspectives of the people who actually make movies, especially in a beginning film class,” Lewis said. “These people are so smart and so articulate. It helps you really appreciate how hard it is – and how many talented people it takes – to make a good movie.”

“Essential Cinema: An Introduction to Film Analysis” is available now.