Filmquake – Ian Haydn Smith

Published By: Quarto
Pages: 208
Released On: 04/01/2022

FilmQuake introduces 50 movies that shook the cinematic world, telling the fascinating stories behind their creation, reception and legacy.

From unbelievable developments kn technology (Citizen Kane 1941) to feminist triumphs (Wanda 1970); films that kickstarted New Queer Cinema (Paris is Burning 1990) to others that challenged laemakers (A Short Film About Killing 1988) – FilmQuake presents the movies that questioned boundaries, challenged the status quo and made shockwaves we are still feeling today.

From film’s first innovators, people like the Lumiere brothers, whose short film of a train arriving was reported to have terrified audiences in 19th Century Paris, through iconoclasts like Sergei Eisenstein and Luis Bunuel, to titans of 20th Century cinema like Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, discover the stories behind the films which incontrovertibly changed the course of cinema forever.


Thanks to Quarto for the advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Having studied for a degree in film, I am obsessed with anything to do with movies – of old and new. Any bit of trivia or opinion I can learn improves the viewing experience for me. I’m used to reading about the positives and the glory of film, so I found it an interesting avenue to write a book about disruptive films, and what makes them disruptive, and whether I agree or not.

What I found interesting was not just the idea of a particular film being disruptive, but the exploration that film in and of itself was a disruptive medium.

The layout of this book is easy to read and well defined, with an excellent choice of photographs. Each chapter is well thought out and allows the reader to dip in and out as desired.

It also explores the relatively short time between the advent of film to popular blockbusters to TV series and streaming services. The industry has come a long way in a little over 100 years since the Lumiere brothers showed their first moving picture, and these new advents present these films to an ever increasing audience.

I admit I haven’t seen a lot of the films chosen in this book, but Ian’s written about them so passionately that I might just look them up. I’m glad he chose one of my favourite films – Brokeback Mountain – which is a worthy addition. For all its “disruptiveness”, it is a truly magical movie. But the one thing I will disagree on – quite controversially – is that I don’t believe Citizen Kane is the greatest film ever made, in fact, I thought it was really rather terrible.

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