film greats for fundis

Book: The Movie Book

Book: The Movie Book

Publisher: Phaidon Press Limited

Reviewer: Xolani Shezi

It would have made perfect sense if The Movie Book was titledThe Movie Encyclopedia because it is a collation of 500 individuals - dead and alive - that have contributed immeasurably in shaping and reshaping our movie world.

Other than naked entertainment to get rid of boredom, we adore this world because it has produced great films that have impacted positively on our fashion and our fantasy lives.

And we hate it because sometimes the characters in the flicks display negative traits that resemble our own persona that we would like to dispose of or keep sealed in our troubled secretive psyches.

The Movie Book yanks out all those good and bad memories through the awesome 500, from A to Z, in the form of "engaging and thought-provoking juxtapositions" of a picture of superior quality film scenes, be they colour or black and white, and a beautifully-crafted short description of less than 200 words for each film sequence.

The alphabetical arrangement does not restrict itself to actors. It also honours directors, screenwriters, costume designers, make-up artists, special effects wizards and animators, graphic designers, editors, cinematographers, producers and movie moguls from 1915 to the 1990s.

But the book makes one grave mistake in that where the person being appraised is or was not the actor, for example a producer, there is no accompanying picture.

So all you have is a name. That was very selfish of the publishers. They should have inserted ID-sized photos of the marvels.

From Bara Teda (A Fool There Was, 1915), a female vampire who "ordered her latest victim to Kiss me, my fool", the list of movie shakers is endless.

You will find Jeff Bridges, Juliette Binoche, Michael Caine, James Cameron (Titanic, 1997), Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Whoopi Goldberg, John Malkovich, Robert de Niro, Fred Zinnemann (director), Willis O'Brien (special effects artist, 1933), Anthony Hopkins, Sidney Poitier, Al Pacino, Denzil Washington, Marilyn Monroe, Eddie Murphy and many more. All your favourites and vice versa are there.

The Movie Book will hit your pocket for R266. That's peanuts considering its thorough cross-referencing system and glossary that will guide you "through the complexities of the motion-picture industry, together with an international guide to film festivals and museums".

So move it and get yourself a copy of The Movie Book to reminisce days gone by.

It's a vital history archive that could come in handy when feeding your kids with copious general knowledge.