A Blog of Book Reviews

These book reviews are also featured on my blog, Scorpion Stalking Duck. Here they are distilled out of the rest of the posts, kind of like that scum at the top of a pot full of boiled potatoes. The title of this blog - and the quote above - come from the forward of Hillaire Belloc's book, The Path to Rome.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cameras in the Wild: A History of Early Wildlife and Expedition Filmmaking, 1895-1928

Cameras in the Wild: A History of Early Wildlife and Expedition Filmmaking, 1895-1928

Palle B. Petterson

McFarland & Company

Dr. Petterson has written a remarkable book about the early history of film.  I expected this book to be just a collection of short biographies on the first contributors to the film industry, but it actually includes more than that.  Petterson not only writes about the personalities of these early fimmakers, but he also writes about the development of the cameras they used, the venues where these movies were displayed, and how movies were becoming more a part of the social fabric. 

This book describes the works of photographers and film makers in Europe and the United States.  Their major works are briefly mentioned, as well as some of their travels to places such as Antarctica and the jungles of Africa.  Nearly every story mentions the hazards faced by these pioneers while trying to capture nature on film.  Sometimes their journeys ended with the discovery that their film was either destroyed or ruined.  They are all to be commended for their persistence in their work.

The evolution of camera and theater technology is also briefly discussed in each time period.  A lot of this was a little more technical than I care for, but those who have an interest in the subject will appreciate Petterson’s writing here.  One thing that struck me is that a little over one hundred years ago, people would go to the theater to watch movies of waves crashing into the shoreline.  When I think about how our modern society is accustomed to such visual stimulation as 3-D movies with surround sound, I am just amazed how we have been changed by motion pictures - and even more so by television.

This book contains an extensive list of references consisting of a Filmography for the time periods covered, Chapter Notes, and a Bibliography.  With this work, Dr. Petterson has written an excellent book for those who are students of the theater arts, while still making the subject fascinating for those of us who have the privilege to review it for the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing.

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