Beginning September 2, Turner Classic Movies presents the U.S. television debut of Mark Cousins’ 15-part historical journey through cinema, “The Story of Film: An Odyssey,” which premiered on British TV in 2011. But there’s more.
Through December 9, TCM will supplement this brilliant, epic documentary with 119 films and dozens of shorts from Cousins’ handpicked cinematic canon, from early works of the Lumiere Brothers all the way to Alexander Sokurov’s single-take historical drama “Russian Ark” and more. TCM calls this its most “amibitious and far-reaching programming event ever.” Naturally, TCM host Robert Osborne will introduce each week’s episode with commentary.
A native of Ireland, Cousins is not only a great director on his own, but he is also a deeply knowledgable critic and historian. But “The Story of Film” is not your run-of-the-mill film studies survey. This is Cousins’ maddening, fascinating revisionist look at cinema, with an acute attention to developments in form and technique across the 20th century through today, asking questions as provocative as, “Is Nicolas Roeg’s ‘Performance’ the greatest film in the story of film?” “Story of Film” also boasts an extensive compendium of interviews with directors like Lars von Trier and Gus van Sant, among many more. (Check out our TOH! review from TIFF in 2011.)
Culling from films discussed in the doc both widely known and obscure, TCM’s 15-week, expertly curated series includes work by D.W. Griffith, Eric von Stroheim, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Roman Polanski, Akira Kurosawa, David Lynch and dozens more. This is your chance to not only brush up on your film savvy, but also to catch rare and elusive classics, many of which have never aired before on TCM.
Head to TCM for the full lineup, and watch clips from “The Story of Film” below.