Written and compiled by British film critic Ronald Bergan, the DK Eyewitness Companion book is much more cursory, but the organization is also more amenable to the casual browser looking for a few film factoids. That's because the 500-plus-page soft-cover book mimics the same pleasing graphics, easy-to-follow organization, and abbreviated observations of the extensive Eyewitness guidebook line. This one is divided into six discrete sections - The Story of Cinema, How Movies Are Made, Genres, World Cinema, A-Z of Directors, and Top 100 Movies. Each provides interesting tidbits of a thumbnail variety, especially the first chapter which dares to cover the history of movies in such an expeditious fashion. The second section gives a solid look at the entire process of filmmaking from development to release.
The section on film genres is somewhat more inconsequential, but Bergan's overview of world cinema and its leading directors provides some true nuggets. It's also interesting to see he doesn't offer much praise to actor-directors other than Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen (whom he mistakenly credits for directing Play It Again, Sam - it was Herbert Ross). It seems inevitable that a Top 100 list should be presented, and Bergan's list is as subjective as any other film scholar's. He further conditions his list by including only one film per noted director (so, for example, Hitchcock gets identified for Vertigo and nothing else in his illustrious filmography). The likely candidates are here, but so are some idiosyncratic choices like Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas and Mike Newell's Four Weddings and a Funeral. As with any Eyewitness book, there are lots of nicely presented photographs and sidebars to break up the text. This is good browsing material for the more casual film lover.