Mark Cousins’ latest documentary offering is one of imagination and inspiration. The First Movie (2009) and The Story of Film: an Odyssey (2011) set Cousins up as a truly unique documentary filmmaker. He holds the passion for film viewing as much as any deserving cinephile, the knowledge of a discerning film studies graduate and the ability to direct documentaries like no other filmmaker around today. An array of wonderful books on film and its magical forms and impressive projects such as Cinema is Everywhere (2009) have shown, his devotion to the medium of film seemingly knows no bounds.
Using live action clips of films where children are the focus of the camera and scene, Cousins sets out to deliberately avoid the idea of adults’ interpretations of children shown on screen.
His latest piece of work is a meditation on the inclusion of children in films and how they are represented. Using live action clips of films where children are the focus of the camera and scene, Cousins sets out to deliberately avoid the idea of adults’ interpretations of children shown on screen. Opening the feature with Vincent Van Gogh’s room from the French sanatorium where he painted his famous landscapes, he discloses his mantra for the film. Expressionist works demonstrating emotional impact of how we see things as the individual are similar in light of how children see things compared to adults and of course then how children appear on screen.
Using an intimate piece of footage shot in his Edinburgh flat where his niece and nephew play with a marble run they built, Cousins takes the viewer on a journey of clips of world cinema to explore children in film. Taking simple aspects of what is included in the footage of the marble run, noticing small moments of things like how they look at or respond to the camera, or something as broad as their accents, every part of the footage is digested. Each fleeting suggestion is spurred on by the sectioning of the feature under themes like social class and shyness exposed.
As with his previous works, this is every part the essay film. It’s always very comprehensively related, each clips and section bleed into each other with the thoughts and narrative outlining commentary of Cousins. The documentary is academic in its exploration, but as it’s on screen and drafted with a voice over, there’s an entertainment value. We aren’t just reading an essay on the subject; we are being shown the essay by the means of visual sources, and having them explained to us as we experience them as source material. It’s a lesson in cinema, in the cinema setting.
A wondrous collection of cinematic moments ranging from Soviet history narratives to Japanese contemporary, from Tom and Jerry cartoons to European classics and Hollywood iconic features.
Technical elements like camera positioning and the composition of the lighting are mentioned in just enough detail, without the film becoming uncomfortable viewing for those without knowledge of technical film vocabulary. Looking at it as an incredibly good short course on world cinema, flourished with clips but not harboured with theory, makes it suitable for all ages of cinema fans. The cinematic merits of the feature make it something any cinema lover will adore. A wondrous collection of cinematic moments ranging from Soviet history narratives to Japanese contemporary, from Tom and Jerry cartoons to European classics and Hollywood iconic features.
The nature of the clips sequences keeps it very light and it’s impossible to detract your attention because of how the film moves. The singular overarching theme holds together the clips wonderfully. Like any good essay the conclusion recaps the major points that the essay is making; life on screen and the ability of cinema. The expression of naturalistic and forced emotions in children in film is a great portrayal of human feelings. Cousin’s informative and captivating documentary takes all that we love about cinema and neatly packages it up for our viewing pleasure.
[notification type=”star”]85/100 ~ GREAT. Cousin’s informative and captivating documentary takes all that we love about cinema and neatly packages it up for our viewing pleasure.[/notification]