Even 15 hours seems like it might not be enough to cover over a century of film history, but "The Story of Film: An Odyssey," screening at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend, is making the attempt.
Based on the book of the same name by writer-director Mark Cousins, this 15-hour-long documentary delves into a global history of the movies, starting at the very beginning and moving along to the current age. Cousins interviews more than 40 cinematic luminaries, including Wim Wenders, Robert Towne and Alexander Sokurov.
"I wanted to choose people who had done great work or were eyewitnesses to great times," Cousins told Time Out London. "I was interested in people who could conjure up an era and mood in film history."
In a recent piece for the Guardian, Cousins explains his interest in tracking the way filmmakers have created and developed their techniques over time -- lighting, focus, editing, as an interest in "filmic ideas."
Why does a scene, shot a particular way, affect us the way it does? How does that particular idea or technique change as it's passed down, decade by decade, filmmaker by filmmaker? Where do you see the traces of Jean-Luc Godard and Carol Reed in Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver?" Cousins isn't interested in celebrity, or business, but in art. And rather than focus on Hollywood, "The Story of Film" moves all across the world to find its answers.
Or, as Cousins writes in the Guardian:
We'll still keep hearing about the business of film, of course, because movies make money as well as meaning. But to focus too much on the money is to miss the point, the pulse, the potency. Stanley Donen, who co-directed Singin' in the Rain, told me that Hollywood was just a garden. Many flowers grew there.
WATCH a trailer for "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" below: