Take a Look at The Power of Film With TCM’s Upcoming Documentary Series





Turner Classic Movies is launching a new original documentary series next year that explores some of the greatest American classic films from the last century. The Power of Film is a six-part series hosted by legendary cinema professor Howard Suber.

Each 40-minute episode examines the art of storytelling by exploring defining principles and the inner workings of fan-favorite films. The series is based on Suber’s book of the same name. However, the series goes beyond his online masterclass by incorporating his structured framework, teachings, and insights with nearly 50 dramatic movie scenes to develop an engaging narrative using humor, emotion, and the human experience.

Image credit: Turner Classic Movies

“I am honored to have our series shown on TCM, surrounded by 17 of the most memorable American films, nearly all of which I discuss in depth in the series,” said Suber. “TCM’s commitment to the history of American films has always been remarkable.”

Over 53 years of teaching, Suber has made a lasting impression on the entertainment industry. His in-depth understanding of cinema has inspired countless filmmakers and earned him the Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award, the highest honor for a retired faculty member. Suber has an extensive history analyzing films and television, diving into what makes a film popular and memorable for generations.

TCM has been the home of classic movies since 1994, but in June faced a potential shutdown amid Warner Bros. Discovery’s cost cuts. The network almost folded until Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson called Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav to save it.

The Power of Film is directed by Laura Gabbert and written by Suber and Doug Pray. Gabbert and Pray studied and collaborated with Suber at the UCLA School of Film, Theater, and Television.

The series debuts on January 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET on TCM. The complete schedule for The Power of Film, as described by TCM:

Thursday, January 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET | Part 1 – Popular and Memorable

A large proportion of the most commercially successful American films are quickly forgotten. A tiny fraction, however, are truly memorable, lasting from one generation to another. Using iconic scenes from many of these classic films, this series explores films that were both popular and memorable. In this episode, Howard Suber asks why this small minority continues to have such power. 

Thursday, January 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET | Part 2 – Trapped

Nearly all memorable stories, whether told in movies or in real life, are about traps. The most memorable are generally about the loss, sacrifice, and ultimate triumph the central character must engage in to escape their trap.

Thursday, January 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET | Part 3 – Character Relationships

There’s no such thing as an interesting character; there are only interesting character relationships. But, as is true for religions, myths, and the longest-lasting dramas, the structure of most memorable dramatic plots centers on a single individual, around whom all the most important action and the other characters revolve.

Thursday, January 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET | Part 4 – Heroes and Villains

Memorable films tend to be a compensation for what we don’t see much of in the real world— justice, commitment, and altruism. Film drama frequently treats the central characters as if they were heroes or villains, but often the two are very much alike.

Thursday, February 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET | Part 5 – The Power of Paradox

In almost every memorable film, things are not what they seem, and learning the truth about characters and situations creates much of the tension in the film. Often, the truth of the film is quite paradoxical, which is what makes us want to keep watching.

Thursday, February 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET | Part 6 – Love and Meaning

Although it’s often said that in order to succeed, a Hollywood film has to have a happy ending, when you look at the most memorable love stories it’s astonishing how many of them end with the separation or death of one or both lovers. Often, the paradox underlying the film helps explain why they stick in our memories.

Image credit: Turner Classic Movies

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