The Story of Film: An Odyssey
The Story of Film: An Odyssey is a documentary series about the history of film, presented on television in 15 one-hour chapters with a total length of over 900 minutes. It was directed and narrated by Mark Cousins, a film critic from Northern Ireland, based on his 2004 book The Story of Film.
The series was broadcast in September 2011 on More4, the digital television service of UK broadcaster Channel 4. The Story of Film was also featured in its entirety at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and it was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in February 2012. It was broadcast in the United States on Turner Classic Movies beginning in September 2013.
The Telegraph headlined the series’ initial broadcast in September 2011 as the “cinematic event of the year”, describing it as “visually ensnaring and intellectually lithe, it’s at once a love letter to cinema, an unmissable masterclass, and a radical rewriting of movie history.” An Irish Times writer called the program a “landmark”.
In February 2012, A. O. Scott of The New York Times contrasted the project with its “important precursor”, Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire du cinéma. In contrast to the Godard project, which Scott called “personal, polemical and sometimes cryptic”, Scott described Cousins’ film as “a semester-long film studies survey course compressed into 15 brisk, sometimes contentious hours” that “stands as an invigorated compendium of conventional wisdom.” He also commended its “refusal to be nostalgic”.