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Power of Movies

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  84 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
How is watching a movie similar to dreaming? What goes on in our minds when we become absorbed in a movie? How does looking "into" a movie screen allow us to experience the thoughts and feelings of a movie's characters? These and related questions are at the heart of "The Power of Movies, "a thoughtful, invigorating, and remarkably accessible book about a phenomenon seemin ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published December 10th 2008 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published 2005)
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Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What kind of book can talk about "the power of movies", and never refer to a single scene in a single movie? Oh sure, McGinn mentions Citizen Kane in the second chapter, but says absolutely nothing about it: he uses the movie, and the fact that Orson Welles played the lead, not to tell us anything about the art or craft of making movies, but merely to ruminate on the relation of image to object. This is not helpful.

I suppose the subtitle of the book (How Screen and Mind Interact) ought to have b
Mar 11, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only wish I could give this ponderous, pretentious piece of sh*t a negative rating. I only made it to page 42, so I suppose it could have done a complete 180 and ended up being good, but I randomly skimmed other parts and I oh-so-seriously doubt it.

Who is the most OCD person you know? If you know me, your probable answer is Yours Truly. Now, imagine me on some illicit, mind-altering substance trying to be really profound about some subject but instead just talking in circles and failing to mak
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A New York Times review of this work, which got its title wrong, called its first 60 pages “twaddle.” The reviewer is speaking of McGinn’s distinction between looking at and looking into. McGinn says we look into movies in the same way that we look into people’s faces to discover their souls. I like this distinction, but McGinn does not explore the idea of soul in any depth. In terms of film theory, he is much more in the camp of Arnheim than that of Kracauer. Like the surrealists of the twentie ...more
Steve Wiggins
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! An important book that explores why it is that we like movies so much. I learned a lot about seeing, dreams, and even a little philosophy as I read this important little book. We all love movies, but how often do we stop to ask why? I think McGinn is clearly onto something in his analysis. It is one of the few books that I wish was bigger so that I could learn more. See comments on my blog as well: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
Apr 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read the first two chapters. McGinn's basic premise is that movies are so powerful because they are dream like. His whole premise hangs on the idea that movies, as we experience them in the theater, are the power. I think that movies are powerful because they are living stories, and they do a good job of telling stories, just like the old days of myths around the campfire. Also, movies are powerful whatever medium they are presented through, even 6 inch screens of portable DVD players.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the subject quite interesting, but the presentation was lacking. For a book about the power of movies McGinn seemed reluctant to use examples from film history. He also is quite adept at pounding a point home ad nauseum. Two hundred pages to point out that films are very similar to our dreams seems like overkill. He comes at his theory from every possible angle, but by the end I was wondering what the point was.
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film, philosophy
McGinn explores some interesting ideas about the way our minds connect with movies as though they were dreams. The book analyzes several implications of the theory, and provoked thought about the importance of both ways of thinking. Nothing earth-shattering, but still worth a read.
Peter Keough
Some good points, but mostly specious, obvious, or just plain wrong.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Talks about viewers psychological connection to the movies and movie images. Short book with some interesting insights.
Michael Goldburg
Compelling philosophical/theoretical treatise on the persuasive connection between watching/making movies and dreaming. Worth reading.
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How interesting! I've done dream journals off and on over the years and I love film. To combine ideas about the two captured my imagination. I'm sure I'll be referencing this book for years to come.
Apr 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far I've been enjoying this accessible philosophy book. I've yet to get to the best sections: how movies are like dreams!
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Colin McGinn is a British philosopher currently working at the University of Miami. McGinn has also held major teaching positions at Oxford University and Rutgers University. He is best known for his work in the philosophy of mind, though he has written on topics across the breadth of modern philosophy. Chief among his works intended for a general audience is the intellectual memoir The Making of ...more
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