The BEST Episodes of The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Award-winning film-maker Mark Cousins provides a worldwide guided tour of the greatest movies ever made and tells the story of international cinema through the history of cinematic innovation
#1 - The Golden Age of World Cinema
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 17, 2011
The 1920s were a golden age for world cinema. The programme visits Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai and Tokyo to explore the places where movie makers were pushing the boundaries of the medium. German expressionism, Soviet montage and French impressionism and surrealism were passionate new film movements, but less well known are the glories of Chinese and Japanese films and the moving story of one of the great, now largely forgotten, movie stars, Ruan Lingyu.
#2 - The Hollywood Dream
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 10, 2011
Movies in the Roaring Twenties: Hollywood became a glittering entertainment industry with star directors like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. But the gloss and fantasy was challenged by movie makers like Robert Flaherty, Eric Von Stroheim and Carl Theodor Dreyer, who wanted films to be more serious and mature. This was a battle for the soul of cinema. The result: some of the greatest movies ever made.
#3 - Birth of the Cinema
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 3, 2011
Mark Cousins tells the story of cinema, starting in this episode with the birth of the movies, telling the glamorous, surprising stories of early moviemaking and the first film stars.
#4 - New American Independents & the Digital Revolution
Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired Dec 3, 2011
Brilliant, flashy, playful movies in the English speaking world in the nineties. We look at what was new in Tarantino’s dialogue and the edginess of the Coen Brothers. The writer of Starship Troopers and Robocop talks exclusively about the films’ irony. In Australia, Baz Luhrmann talks about Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge, and we plunge into the digital world to see how it has changed the movies forever.
#5 - European New Wave
Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 15, 2011
The explosive story of film in the late fifties and sixties: The great movie star Claudia Cardinale talks exclusively about Federico Fellini; in Denmark, Lars von Trier describes his admiration for Ingmar Bergman; and Bernardo Bertolucci remembers his work with Pier Paolo Pasolini. French filmmakers plant a bomb under the movies, and the new wave it causes sweeps across Europe.
#6 - Cinema Today and the Future
Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired Dec 10, 2011
Movies come full circle: They get more serious after 9/11, and Romanian movies come to the fore. But then David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive becomes one of the most complex dream films ever made and Inception turns film into a game. In Moscow, master director Alexander Sokurov talks exclusively about his innovative films. Then, a surprise: The Story of Film goes beyond the present, to look at film in the future.
#7 - Post-War Cinema
Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 1, 2011
Mark Cousins explores how the trauma of war led to more daring creations for cinema, focusing on the darkening of American film and the drama of the McCarthy years. Screenwriters Paul Schrader and Robert Towne discuss the era and Stanley Donen - director of Singin' in the Rain - talks about his career.
#8 - Sex & Melodrama
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Oct 8, 2011
Sex and melodrama in the movies of the fifties: James Dean, On the Waterfront and glossy weepies. We travel to Egypt, India, China, Mexico, Britain and Japan to find that movies there were also full of rage and passion. Exclusive interviews include associates of Indian master Satyajit Ray; legendary Japanese actress Kyoko Kagawa, who starred in films by Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu; and the first great African director, Youssef Chahine.
#9 - American Cinema of the 70s
Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Oct 29, 2011
The maturing of American cinema of the late sixties and seventies: Buck Henry, writer of The Graduate, talks exclusively about movie satire of the time. Paul Schrader reveals his thoughts on his existential screenplay for Taxi Driver. Writer Robert Towne explores the dark ideas in Chinatown, and director Charles Burnett talks about the birth of Black American cinema.
#10 - Movies to Change the World
Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Nov 5, 2011
The movies that tried to change the world in the seventies: Wim Wenders in Germany; Ken Loach and Britain; Pasolini in Italy; the birth of new Australian cinema; and then Japan, which was making the most moving films in the world. Even bigger, bolder questions about film were being asked in Africa and South America, and the story ends with John Lennon’s favourite film, the extraordinary, psychedelic The Holy Mountain.
#11 - The Arrival of Multiplexes and Asian Mainstream
Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Nov 12, 2011
Star Wars, Jaws and The Exorcist created the multiplexes, but they were also innovative. In India the world’s most famous movie star, Amitabh Bachchan, shows how Bollywood was doing new things in the seventies too. And we discover that Bruce Lee movies kick-started the kinetic films of Hong Kong, where master Yuen Woo-ping talks exclusively about his action movies and his wire fu choreography for The Matrix.
#12 - Fight the Power: Protest in Film
Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired Nov 19, 2011
Protest in the movies of the 1980s: brave filmmakers spoke truth to power. American independent director John Sayles talks exclusively about these years. In Beijing, Chinese cinema blossomed before the Tiananmen crackdown. In the Soviet Union, the past wells up in astonishing films, and master director Krzysztof Kieslowski emerges in Poland.
#13 - New Directors, New Form
Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Oct 22, 2011
The dazzling 1960s in cinema around the world: In Hollywood, legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler reveals how documentary influenced mainstream movies. Easy Rider and 2001: A Space Odyssey signal a new era in America cinema. We discover the films of Roman Polanski, Andrei Tarkvosky, and Nagisa Oshima. Black African cinema is born, and we talk exclusively to the Indian master director Mani Kaul.
#14 - The Arrival of Sound
Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Sep 24, 2011
The coming of sound in the 1930s upends everything. We watch the birth of new types of film: screwball comedies, gangster pictures, horror films, westerns and musicals, and discover a master of most of them, Howard Hawks. Alfred Hitchcock hits his stride and French directors become masters of mood.
#15 - New Boundaries: World Cinema in Africa, Asia & Latin America
Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired Nov 26, 2011
Film in the 1990s enters a surprise golden age. In Iran we meet Abbas Kiarostami, who rethought movie making and made it more real. Then, in Tokyo, we meet Shinji Tsukamoto, who laid the ground for the bold new Japanese horror cinema. In Paris one of the world’s greatest directors, Claire Denis, talks exclusively about her work. The story ends in Mexico.