Cover image for British Film Institute film classics
British Film Institute film classics
White, Rob, 1970-
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Fitzroy Dearborn ; London : BFI, [2003]
Physical Description:
2 volumes (ix, 1248 pages) : illustrations ; 29 cm
General Note:
Reprints the 50 vols. originally published (1992-2000) as separate vols. in the series BFI film classics.
Added Uniform Title:
BFI film classics.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995 .B732 2003 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
PN1995 .B732 2003 V.2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



This illustrated two-volume set is a compendium of more than 50 monographs published by the British Film Institute since 1992. Each entry focuses on a single great film of world cinema, presenting an essay by a prominent critic, novelist, academic, or filmmaker. You will read Camille Paglia on The Birds, Richard Schickel on Double Indemnity , Salman Rushdie on The Wizard of Oz , and many more. Such a spectrum of critics, covering an equally broad selection of films, emphasizes the diversity of ways in which people experience cinema.

Film Classics showcases a breadth of styles and approaches to contemporary film criticism, offering informed and lively critiques of some of the most notable works in the history of film.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1982 the British Film Institute (BFI) compiled a list of 360 classic films produced throughout the world from 1914 to 1981. After initiating a project to build an archive of perfect prints of these films, in 1992 the BFI began to publish a series of monographs providing an introduction to each film. Now, the first 50 titles issued in the BFI Film Classics series have been brought together in this compilation. Arranged chronologically by the year of each film's release, the volumes contain 25 essays apiece, beginning with Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) in volume 1, and ending with Annie Hall (1977) in volume 2. Authored by a variety of well-known writers, including Richard Schickel, Camille Paglia, and Salman Rushdie, the commentaries are individualistic rather than following any set criteria concerning format or content. Some focus on the film's production history; others provide criticism, analysis, and interpretation; and others contain lengthy synopses of the story. Each is fascinating in its own way, providing insights and observations that illuminate the film anew for both cinema scholars and movie buffs. All of the essays include a selection of stills from the film, extensive film credits, and bibliographic references. Not all of the photographs and illustrations that appeared in the original series are reproduced here. In addition, all photographs are in black-and-white, although a number of the original monographs include color photographs. The lack of an index greatly limits this set's usefulness as a reference source. Although each volume includes a chronological list of the films covered in that volume, access is hindered by the absence of an overall table of contents for the set. Also missing are an alphabetical list of the films and a breakdown of films by country of origin. Without these enhancements, there is no reason for libraries that already have the individual volumes in the BFI Film Classics series to add this compilation. However, academic and research libraries that are not purchasing the series may want to consider this set for their circulating collections. RBB.

Choice Review

This work reproduces the text of 50 BFI Film Classics books, each dealing with a classic film preserved by the BFI Archives. American and British films lead in number, but foreign-language classics (The Seventh Seal, La Nuit Americaine) are also represented and more books are apparently planned. Written by scholars, critics, filmmakers, and others, entries average 20-25 pages and include bibliographies and production credits for each film. Style of analysis varies with the writer: some take a personal approach (e.g., Brief Encounter by Richard Dyer, The Wizard of Oz by Salman Rushdie) while others employ more scholarly analysis (e.g., Citizen Kane by Laura Mulvey, Chinatown by Michael Eaton). All discuss the personalities behind and before the camera, conditions and politics of production, social context, and how these factors influenced the film's outcome. Essays also provide in-depth analysis and interpretation of key visuals, dialogue, and scenes. Black-and-white images from archival prints accompany each entry and range in quality from crisp to muzzy, often within the same essay. The stature of films and writers makes this work valuable but redundant for collections already possessing the individual texts. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and higher. S. Clerc Southern Connecticut State University