The Story of Film
This recommendation is a rather ambitious undertaking well met. The Story of Film: An Odyssey lives up to its title and then some. Beginning at the beginning and following through to the present the series explores where film has come from, been, and is going, all within the fifteen-week series. And it succeeds in a manner that is comprehensive yet easy to understand even for the uninitiated.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey was published as a book first and then adapted into a film. That’s right, a book. Although a bit intimidating in length the author still felt compelled to create an equally ambitious fifteen-hour series. It was a smart move. Covering every aspect a film fan could think of and more, the project gives the viewer a complete and satisfying overview of the history of the great American art form: cinema. I recommend tackling the film series first. It will serve as a type of primer for the equally esteemed book, which can serve as a resource you can turn to time and again for reference, filling in the bits and pieces between the lines. The fifteen-week series began airing September 2, 2013 on TCM, but don’t despair if you’ve missed episodes. It’s a sure bet that the classic film network will rerun this production from time to time. So check schedules and set those DVRs.
No one source can provide everything there is to know about any subject. However, The Story of Film comes as close as any book or film on any subject ever has. Truly, it’s one for the dedicated cinephile, but I believe the casual fan will find it immensely enjoyable as well - perhaps not all in one sitting, but in time and eventually. I think I like it like that.