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the Complete Review
the complete review - film

Borges in/and/on Film

Edgardo Cozarinsky

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To purchase Borges in/and/on Film

Title: Borges in/and/on Film
Author: Edgardo Cozarinsky
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 1980 (Eng. 1988)
Length: 117 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Borges in/and/on Film - US
Borges in/and/on Film - UK
Borges in/and/on Film - Canada
  • Spanish title: Borges en/y/sobre cinema
  • Translated by Gloria Waldman and Ronald Christ
  • Includes seventeen of Borges' film reviews
  • With a Prologue by Adolfo Bioy-Casares
  • A previous version, Borges y el cine, was published in 1974

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Our Assessment:

B : useful collection

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Borges in/and/on Film is a small guide to the relation of cinema and Borges' own life and work. An essay by Cozarinsky gives a good overview, while the rest of the volume collects Borges' own writings on film , as well as offering descriptions of films made of Borges' work, as well as those that have been influenced by it. Already somewhat dated, and fairly cursory, it nevertheless is a useful guide for the Borges-fan. (Missing, however, is, for example, any mention or discussion of one of Borges' final projects, a screenplay for the benefit of the Venice in Peril Fund he was working on at the time of his death.)
       The centrepiece of the collection is Borges' own writings on film -- mainly reviews written for SUR in the 1930s. The reviews are more curiosities than important texts: generally several films are discussed in each, and often little more than a paragraph is devoted to a film. Judgements are summary, explanations limited. Nevertheless, there are some nuggets here, and it is of interest to see what Borges so succinctly addresses in these pieces.
       Many notable films of the 1930s are discussed, and not just American ones. Borges generally quickly cuts to the heart of the matter -- and expects some familiarity with cinema from his audience ("It is so bad that it deserves the signature of René Clair", he writes of one German film). He is often devastating in his criticism, as when he reviews Josef von Sternberg's Dostoevsky-adaptation, Crime and Punishment:

For this film, von Sternberg has renounced his customary marottes. Unfortunately, he has not replaced them with anything. (...) Formerly, he seemed mad, which at least is something; now, merely simple-minded.
       Hitchcock, Welles, Chaplin, Eisenstein, and many other major and minor directors are discussed -- all too briefly and quickly, but nevertheless with some interesting insights and observations (and, often, clever turns of phrases). It's clear that Borges was a film critic -- and one ahead of his time: he could even pass for one nowadays, his style (if not quite so compressed) one that often sounds contemporary.
       The discussion of Borges' influence on filmmakers, especially the French directors of the 1960s as well as Nicolas Roeg, is also of interest, though probably more so to true movie-fans (rather than Borges-fans). (The great Nic Roeg's first name is, unfortunately, consistently misspelt (as 'Nicholas' rather than the correct 'Nicolaus').)
       The brief descriptions and discussions of Borges-adaptations are also of some interest, though this is the one section that might usefully be expanded -- not only to be up to date, but also offering fuller descriptions.

       A useful, entertaining little volume, which should certainly be of interest to Borges fans.

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Jorge Luis Borges: Other books of interest under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Film-related books

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About the Author:

       Argentine-born Edgardo Cozarinsky has directed several movies and written several books.

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