50 Years of Film Comment

The story of Film Comment’s first 50 years is, by one telling, the story of the general-interest film magazine: its birth at a time when serious filmgoing had never been more prominent in the cultural conversation; its rocky passage through changing tides of fashion and theory; its pragmatic adaptations and its stubborn refusals to adapt. By another telling, it’s the story of three generations of film critics: their personal philosophies, pet theories, changes of heart, private confessions and public disputes. By still another, it’s the story of what criticism has (and hasn’t) been to different people at different times: a platform for aesthetic judgments; a cultural litmus test; an ideological tool; a force for social change; a personal soapbox; a forum for debate. By yet another, it’s a messy, exhaustive history of the movies, caught with one foot in the medium’s ever-changing present and another in its ever-growing past. Throughout, it’s the story of an idea, or maybe an ideal: that a film magazine could be contemporary and timeless; rigorous and readable; discerning and unsnobby; and smart about movies, as it tagged itself for a few years in the 2000s.

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