Early Cinema: Space Frame Narrative
Thomas Elsaesser (ed), Early Cinema: Space Frame Narrative (London: British Film Institute and Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990) 424pp, ill.
In the twenty years preceding the First World War, cinema rapidly developed from a fairground curiosity into a major industry and a social institution, a source of information and entertainment for millions of people. Only recently have film scholars and historians begun to study these early years of cinema in their own right and not simply as first steps towards the classical narrative cinema we now associate with Hollywood.
Thomas Elsaesser, Fassbinder's Germany: History Identity Subject (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1996), 396 pp.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of the most prominent and important authors of post-war European cinema. Thomas Elsaesser is the first to write a thoroughly analytical study of his work. He stresses the importance of a closer understanding of Fassbinder's career through a re-reading of his films as textual entities.
The Last Great American Picture Show
Thomas Elsaesser [with A. Horwath and N. King] (eds)., The Last Great American Picture Show (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2004) 391 pp, ill.
The Last Great American Picture Show brings together essays by scholars and writers who chart the changing evaluations of the American cinema of the 1970s, sometimes referred to as the decade of the lost generation, but now more and more recognized as the first New Hollywood, without which the cinema of Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton or Quentin Tarantino could not have come into existence.
Thomas Elsaesser, Metropolis (London: BFI Classic, 2000) 87 pp.
Metropolis (1925) is a monumental work. When it was made it was Germany's most expensive feature film, a canvas for director Fritz Lang's increasingly extravagant ambitions (it took sixteen months to film). Lang, inspired by the skyline of New York, created a whole new vision of cities. One of the greatest works of science fiction, the film also tells human stories about love and family.
Weimar Cinema and After
Thomas Elsaesser, Weimar Cinema and After (London: Routledge, 2000) 472 pp.
German cinema of the 1920s is still regarded as one of the "golden ages" of world cinema. Films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu and The Blue Angel are among the key films defining an age of Germany as a nation uneasy with itself. Directors such as Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau and G.W. Pabst, having apparently announced the horrors of fascism while testifying to the traumas of a defeated nation, cast long shadows over German cinema to this day.
Studying Contemporary American Film
Thomas Elsaesser [with Warren Buckland], Studying Contemporary American Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) 309 pp.
How should the student set about analysing contemporary American cinema? This book takes an innovative approach to film analysis: each chapter examines the assumptions behind one traditional theory of film, distils a method of analysis from it, and then analyses a contemporary American movie. It then goes beyond the traditional theory by analysing the same movie using a more current theory and method.