The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies

by David Thomson

Hardcover, 2012




New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.


"The Big Screen" tells the enthralling story of the movies: their rise and spread, their remarkable influence in the war years, and their long, slow decline to a form that is often richly entertaining but no longer lays claim to our lives the way it once did.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ChrisNewton
Terrific book. Full of wisdom, full of insight, both into the history of cinema and the history of the humans who watched it (and what it did to them.)Plus a great resource for populating my Netflix queue.
LibraryThing member jonfaith
You are not watching life. You are watching a movie. And if, maybe, the movie feels better than life, then that is a vast, revolutionary possibility, and no one knows yet whether it is for good or ill, because the insinuation of dreams does so much to alter or threaten our respect for life. Dissatisfaction and doubt grew in step with film's projection of happiness.

My emotional detachment to this book remained constant, even as bliss gave way to my own doubtful dissatisfaction. This isn't a history of cinema. Thomson instead gives us a primer on looking and the effect on our reality. There are two paragraphs devoted to Ozu. Two. Pages upon pages flow on I Love Lucy and The Sopranos. Apparently there is no room for Asian cinema in a 600 page book. We do have space and time to ruminate on Thomson watching porn. Thomson watching Chelsea FC on TV. Thomson on YouTube. Thomson does herald Godard and that was the only reason I didn't throw the book out into the rainy streets last night.

So what did I learn about our proclivity to watch others in the dark? Not sure, I did learn that in the 1970s Orson Welles liked to demonstrate his commitment to returning to peak form by eating steamed fish in trendy restaurants and then having steak and baked potatoes delivered to his office. I also learned that William Holden died when during a bender he fell and cut his head and bled out.

I am now on holiday and I had hoped Thomson would inspire. He failed there as he does in other areas. I was fortunate to record Strike the other day on TCM and that will begin my mainlining of hard art.… (more)



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