Next book



A capacious celebration of film’s potential to show us the world.

A documentary filmmaker examines the history of conveying truth on screen.

Drawing on his own career and extensive research (including viewing every film he discusses), Wilkman (Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles, 2016, etc.), whose series Moguls and Movie Stars was nominated for three Emmys, offers an illuminating, encyclopedic history of nonfiction film, from Eadweard Muybridge’s 1878 images of a galloping horse to the virtual reality of the 21st century. While Westerns, comedies, mysteries, and romances dominated the entertainment industry in its early days, in 1908, in order to meet audiences’ demand for “glimpses of the real world,” the French film company founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers began distributing newsreels: short films recording events such as a daredevil’s fall from the Eiffel Tower and a suffragette march in Washington, D.C. In addition to showing current events, including images of military activities during wars, nonfiction movies became a popular means of education. Henry Ford, diving into movie production, offered films on topics such as pottery making, newspaper production, and, not surprisingly, “Ford’s way of doing business.” Wilkman creates vivid profiles of significant documentarians: photographer Edward S. Curtis, who filmed Native peoples of British Columbia; the daring Osa and Martin Johnson, who filmed expeditions in Africa and the South Pacific; and Robert Flaherty, whose Nanook of the North, a lyrical celebration of Inuit culture, became an unlikely box office success. During World War II, the Army enlisted acclaimed director Frank Capra to produce documentaries “to show Americans what they’re fighting for and why.” TV ensured new audiences for revelations about public issues, society, and culture, on such programs as See It Now, CBS Reports, Frontline, Ken Burns’ histories, and a groundbreaking PBS series, An American Family, that filmed daily life in the Santa Barbara home of the Louds. The author also underscores the importance of documentary film “at a time when the foundations of evidential inquiry are under attack and virtual reality promises to change perceptions of what is accepted as real.”

A capacious celebration of film’s potential to show us the world.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63557-103-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Next book


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Next book



An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

Close Quickview