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The Eloquent Screen

A Rhetoric of Film

2019
Author:

Gilberto Perez
Foreword by James Harvey

The Eloquent Screen

A lifetime of cinematic writing culminates in this breathtaking statement on film’s unique ability to move us

In The Eloquent Screen, influential film critic Gilberto Perez makes a capstone statement on the powerful ways in which film acts on our minds and senses. Drawing on a lifetime’s worth of viewing and re-viewing, Perez invokes a dizzying array of masters past and present—including Chaplin, Ford, Kiarostami, Eisenstein, Malick, Mizoguchi, Haneke, Hitchcock, and Godard—to explore the transaction between filmmaker and audience.

Rhetoric is persuasion, but there is a kind of rhetoric, Gilberto Perez suggests, that is ‘all the more persuasive for seeming not to persuade.’ Similarly there is, at least in this amazing book, a powerful kind of film theory that seems not to be a theory at all but only a closely studied collection of film moments. We learn a lot here about the rhetoric of film, how it works, and the many forms it takes. But the range of examples is so wide and so rich, and the discussion of them so detailed, that a second book begins to hover discreetly behind the first: an introduction to the whole art of film itself. It’s a piece of amazing good fortune to have both works together.

Michael Wood, film critic and author of Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much

Cinema is commonly hailed as “the universal language,” but how does it communicate so effortlessly across cultural and linguistic borders? In The Eloquent ScreenThe Eloquent Screen shows how cinema, as the consummate contemporary art form, establishes a thoroughly modern rhetoric in which different points of view are brought into clear focus.

The Eloquent Screen

Gilberto Perez (1943–2015) held the Noble Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College and was author of The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium. He was film critic for The Yale Review and his essays on film have been published in The Nation, the New York Times, and the London Review of Books.

James Harvey is a film critic, essayist, playwright, and author of numerous books on film, including Watching Them Be: Star Presence on the Screen from Garbo to Balthazar

The Eloquent Screen

Rhetoric is persuasion, but there is a kind of rhetoric, Gilberto Perez suggests, that is ‘all the more persuasive for seeming not to persuade.’ Similarly there is, at least in this amazing book, a powerful kind of film theory that seems not to be a theory at all but only a closely studied collection of film moments. We learn a lot here about the rhetoric of film, how it works, and the many forms it takes. But the range of examples is so wide and so rich, and the discussion of them so detailed, that a second book begins to hover discreetly behind the first: an introduction to the whole art of film itself. It’s a piece of amazing good fortune to have both works together.

Michael Wood, film critic and author of Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much

How fortunate that Gilberto Perez finished this book before his untimely death. His agility in combining criticism and theory—interrogating the rhetoric of films as disparate as Stella Dallas, Shoah, Sherlock Jr., Toni, Caché, The Deer Hunter, Nazarin, and Greed—testifies to his precision. And his graceful prose has the unfashionably literary virtue of honoring his discoveries.

Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic and author of Cinematic Encounters

The Eloquent Screen

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