Though they work closely together, the two are markedly different as individuals. Bordwell is ebullient, brimming over with ideas that animate him. Thompson is more subdued, choosing her words more carefully, but packing a wallop with each quiet observation. The two are consistently tapped by local film programmers, including staffers for Cinematheque and the Wisconsin Film Festival, for advice and connections. Jim Healy, the director of programming for both organizations, says Bordwell and Thompson serve a critical role: “One of their contributions is that they’ve helped bridge the gap between the academic world and the popular world.”
If you’ve ever wandered into UW Cinematheque at Vilas Hall and tried to sit in the center of the first row, you’ll find those seats usually aren’t available. They’re reserved for David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, two local film scholars who have changed the way the world looks at cinema. Since the late 1970s, the couple have written books, taught classes, blogged and pioneered new approaches to examining film. Along the way, they’ve affected generations of both filmmakers and critics, and, some say, the industry itself.
Film is an art form with a language and an aesthetic all its own, and since 1979 David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's Film Art has been the most repected introduction to the art and analysis of cinema. In the new seventh edition, Film Art continues its commitment to providing the best introduction to the fundamentals of serious film study - images throughout the book are collected from actual film frames, not from production stills or advertising photos - and the book has been extensively re-designed to improve readability and teachability.
Partners in life and work, Bordwell and Thompson married in 1979. Their Film Art collaboration carried over into other books, including the 1994 Film History: An Introduction, which they plan to revise for its fourth edition next year. Since the beginning, their process has been the same: talking through and mapping out a book together, then going off to write separate chapters on their own. Their home offices are divided by two levels, each surrounded by their own set of books, each a tribute to the work they love and a sanctuary for each writer.