Not dissimilar in both style and temperament to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Edward Ross’ graphic journey through film history is a clever and succinct introduction to the last century and a bit of moving picture, viewed through the lens of a series of articles, essentially, on such things as time, technology, the body and the voice.
This loose construction allows Ross to hopscotch from Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1896), right at the very beginning of the medium all the way through to the likes of Spike Jonze’s masterpiece Her (2014), providing a potted history of major innovations, major movements, interesting diversions and digressions, in a way that allows Ross (who appears, Sacco-like, in the book) to play dress-up in an amusing and entertaining way. One minute he’s Harold Lloyd, hanging from the clockface in Safety First; the next he’s floating in space talking to us about 2001.
It’s academic – in that Ross quotes freely and frequently from serious film academics throughout – but never so academic as to be off-putting. The only downside, possibly, is that, by approaching the book as a series of articles rather than a more comprehensive and free roaming history, it feels like there is more to be said, but perhaps that means we have further volumes to look forward to.
Any Cop?: It feels like a solid Christmas gift for the movie/comic buff in your life.