Mysteries of Cinema: Reflections on Film Theory, History and Culture 1982-2016

The long-awaited book Mysteries of Cinema: Reflections on Film Theory, History and Culture 1982-2016 by distinguished film critic Adrian Martin is now available for purchase as part of the Film Culture In Transition series at Amsterdam University Press. Nothing in this collection has already been reproduced at the author’s website and around one-third of the contents has never been published anywhere else. Part of the impulse behind the selection for Mysteries of Cinema was also to retrieve the best and most transversal of hard-to-access texts from older or more obscure (Australian) journals. Here you can directly access the table of contents and read the introduction.

“This book covers 34 years of a writing life, so far. It is not a ‘collected essays’ that contains all my work to date (far from it), nor is it a ‘selected essays’ that tries to represent all the different areas and modes in which I practice (again, far from it). It is not quite a book of film criticism, because it lacks articles on specific films or directors’s careers; nor is it a book of conventional academic scholarship, since I have worked within the tertiary education system only for a couple of relatively short periods in my life, and none of the essays contained here derive from university-approved publications.

So, what kind of assemblage is this, exactly? It is a book of general, transversal reflections – clusters of associations, each time around a different centre or theme. It is, as I would like to describe it, a book of threads. There are threads that accompany all of us as we make our way through time – historical time as well as personal, subjective, lived time. This book is a record of how I have constantly tried to tie or weave two particular threads together: to put this in the simplest way, the thread of films (and other creative works) I have experienced, with the thread of written texts I have read, heard, noted, and upon which I have reflected. When bound together, collectively, these threads form what we (sometimes airily) refer to as a film culture.

One will see in the following pages, under specified rubrics (and also dancing between them), a few phantom books never written per se by me, yet somehow elaborated, and constantly updated, along the Ariadnean thread of years. These rubrics are an attempt to capture or corral some of my longstanding obsessions, waxing and waning over time.”

Adrian Martin


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