[Book Review] Milestones in Cinema, by David Worth - Raindance

It is said that those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Open the news, read up on history, and you may well find yourself sadly nodding in agreement. In the filmmaking world, the best storytellers who deal in images are rarely so bold as to describe themselves as reinventing the wheel. Milestones are few and far between. For certain, the people whose job it is to sell you the film will probably try to get you into a cinema because they say that their movie is entirely new. But the filmmakers know that they stand on the shoulders of giants, their predecessors in craft. The book by David Worth, Milestones in Cinema, aims to compile those aforementioned milestones of craft, art, and storytelling. As a veteran filmmaker with over forty feature film credits as director, editor, and director of photography, Mr. Worth’s knowledge of the film language is as unparalleled as it gets. As he moved into teaching, he noticed that what was once inescapable knowledge of film history is now uncharted territory for a number of film students. This book aims to set the record straight.

Revisting Milestones in Cinema History

In a journey that includes fifty films across a century, from Intolerance, by D.W. Griffith, in 1916, all the way to Sean Baker’s Tangerine, in 2015, this book wonderful book aims to be a compendium of film history, as seen through the lens (so to speak) of technological evolutions of the craft. But as you go through it, you will find that this overview dives deep into each one of the films, and it feels like you may as well just have had an entire history of cinema in your hands. In a way, this is precisely the point of having picked milestones: they are representative of the history of the medium as an art form, the craft, and the business that surround them. You may not find some niche independent films in this book -this is not the purpose of this exploration. More valuable, a number of those films are widely acknowledged as classics. The Battleship Potemkin, Abel Gance’s Naploeon, Citizen Kane, Dr Streangelove Persona, The Godfather, and so on… They are all there. And this book does what so few books and teachers explain: why these classics sit so highly in the pantheon of film, and why they are still worthy of discussion and scrutiny.

Learning From History

Discuss, David Worth does at length with each of his chosen example. Scrutinise, he does as well, with the same sharp eye that he has brought to his entire career, which has put him in the company of Clint Eastwood and Jean-Claude Van Damme alike. What makes the book even more endearing, is that David Worth does not just bring his craftsman’s expertise to the table, he also brings the curiosity of a teacher gleefully exploring again what he thought was charted waters. But more than that, and of equal importance, he brings first and foremost a deep love for cinema and for all these movies which is uncontested and infectious. There may be hints of reverence here and there, but this is not that kind of book. If you study this history, you will not only find yourself a more enlightened and astute moviegoer, you will also know whose shoulders you are standing on next time you are on a film set.

David Worth is a Hollywood director, editor and cinematographer, and is also a graduate of the Raindance Film School, from the MA in Filmmaking programme. If you’re curious about how this tailored curriculum will push your projects and career forward, why not book a taster session with our team?

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Baptiste is a writer hailing from the part of France where it is always sunny. After a stint in politics and earning his Master's Degree in Management, he was a marketing intern for the 23rd Raindance Film Festival in 2015, then joined the team permanently in 2016 as the Registrar of the MA in Filmmaking. He is passionate about diversity in film, which he researches and writes about extensively. He is the producer of the hit webseries "Netflix & Kill" and the multi-award-winning short film "Alder", as well as a writer for stage and screen. His short film "U Up?" is currently in pre-production.