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The Bookshelf

New and recent books of interest

The Cinematic City
Edited by David B. Clarke (London: Routledge, 1997, 252 pages, paper).
ISBN 0-415-12746-7 $19.95

Film is traditionally an urban art, articulating its narratives against the backdrop of the metropolitan city. Historically, filmmakers have been intrigued by the varied settings large cities have to offer. Cities in film are often seen as crime-ridden, sinister, and over-crowded or as places of cultural virtue, passion, and mystery. The bucolic countryside is frequently juxtaposed with the dark, mysterious city in film narrative. Such symbols have changed over time, reflecting the tone of society. How is a society of war, poverty, peace, or wealth portrayed in film today in contrast to Metropolis, a classic work?

The Cinematic City is a compilation of theories which recognize urban settings as symbols found in film history. This book is of value to anyone interested in architecture, urban studies, or cinema studies. The conjunction of urban theory and film theory is a subject which editor David B. Clarke feels has been traditionally understated. He believes the city has undeniably been shaped by the cinematic form. In this volume, the history of urbanization and industrial capitalism is traced through films such as Metropolis, The Captive City, It's a Wonderful Life, The Fountainhead, Vertigo, Blow-Up, Manhattan, Blade Runner, Night on Earth, and more.

In The Cinematic City, writers Giuliana Bruno, Iain Chambers, David Clarke, Marcus Doel, Antony Easthope, John Gold, James Hay, Frank Krutnik, Rob Lapsley, Elisabeth Mahoney, Colin McArthur, Will Straw, and Stephan Ward offer a multi-dimensional anthology of ideas on cities and cinema, informed by the work of such contemporary philosophers as Benjamin, Baudrillard, Foucault, Deleuze, Lacan, and Lefebvre. As a unique collection of theories, The Cinematic City provides insight into genres such as film noir, new wave, and postmodern cinema.

Michele Nauman
Art & Architecture Librarian
Pratt Institute Library

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