Monday, July 27, 2015

David Bordwell on the Art of the Martial Arts Film


Author, scholar and critic David Bordwell wrote the book on what constitutes film art, literally. His "Film Art: An Introduction" is one of the most widely assigned and perhaps the best ever basic textbook on general film aesthetics. He is brilliant across the board on the subject of filmmaking as storytelling and, best of all, for folks like me who respect martial arts cinema as something very special and worthwhile, he concurs. His book "Planet Hong Kong" (out of print but available as a PDF on Bordwell's site) takes the aesthetic and cultural appreciation of Chinese action cinema (and other popular forms) to a much higher level than anyone else has.

Here is Bordwell lecturing at a Toronto International Film Festival sponsored forum. He lays out framework for an appreciation of martial arts films as a cinematic movement not unlike Italian neorealism, a national cinema that enlightens and informs in new and important ways if we learn to watch these films with respect and appreciation. The film clips are unfortunately omitted, but we can still get a lot from the lecture.

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