Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Download Ex Machina
Before the DVD release on 8th June
Win Premiere Tickets
To see Mission: Impossible in Vienna.
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

BOOK DETAILS
Released
11 October 2012
Author
David Thomson
Publisher
Allen Lane

LATEST BOOK REVIEWS
Young Winstone
3 Star Empire Rating
Quentin Tarantino FAQ
3 Star Empire Rating
Art Of Inside Out, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Sick In The Head
4 Star Empire Rating
Shining: Studies In The Horror Film, The
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Charlie Chaplin Archives, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Saturday Night Live: The Book
5 Star Empire Rating
Grand Budapest Hotel, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Becoming Richard Pryor
5 Star Empire Rating
75 Years of Marvel
5 Star Empire Rating

The Big Screen: A History Of The Movies And What They Did To Us


submit to reddit

Review
“Selznick was crazy perhaps,” points out film historian David Thomson of Gone With The Wind’s producer, “foolish often, but seldom without insight.” Could he also be describing himself? Equal parts shaman, shrink and cinematic preacher, Thomson has seen more films than we ever will.

Typically eccentric, this is not simply a history of film, but an attempted autopsy on the medium, fearful movies have damaged our respect for life. Told almost as autobiography: his choices, his misgivings, his prolix outpourings on the romantic bond between the “huddled masses” and the silver screen — our “desire” for film.

Beginning with Edward Muybridge’s sequential photographs, we travel on the generous, excited surge of Thomson’s prose through the commotion of early Hollywood, sprawling out nation by nation around a world awakening to cinema: those montage-crazy Soviets; swooning French; tight-lipped Brits; and moody Italians. Whole chapters attend to special cases: Eisenstein in America, manic Welles, or womanising Hawks (Thomson notes how many great artists endure their agonies by sleeping with their leading ladies — that great desire made flesh). A devilish, dazzling, out-there divination that ends up confronting Adam Sandler’s Jack And Jill.

From the awe, poetry and witty iconoclasm (Casablanca is “fake, foolish, and fanciful beyond belief”) with which he regards cinema’s formative years, he turns pessimistic, almost despairing. “This book is a love letter to a lost love,” he confesses, lamenting a present day where watchers turn to their phones while in the cinema. It’s a spiritual exhaustion that afflicts the book. After a delicious swoop from the “fearful rhapsodies” of Scorsese to “irresistible” Tarantino, it fizzles out. No history could hope to grasp film’s entirety, but he gives up trying. You feel the loss. Where are the Scotts, or the Coens, or the rise of China and Korea? Where is Thomson’s humane and loquacious eye upon game-changing James Cameron? If anything, he insists the game has already changed too much.

But then, surely every love letter can be uneven. And criticism is rarely this passionate and brilliant. You come away wanting to watch it all. On the biggest screen you can find.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Terminator Genisys: Empire's Verdict
It wants your clothes and your (re)boots

100 Greatest Movie Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains exclusively revealed!

Bonfire Of The Vanities: When Personal Projects Go Wrong
15 hubristic horrors that went straight to movie jail

Podcast 167: Emily Mortimer, Robert Sheehan, Corin Hardy
It's the live Edinburgh special round 2!

The 15 Most Exciting Games Of E3
The greatest games currently winging their way towards a console near you

Hollywood Jackanory: Stars Reading Things Out Of Context
From Ian McKellen vs. One Direction to Hugh Jackman vs. baking innuendos

Before And After: How 10 Books Changed On Their Way To Becoming Movies
...And how their authors reacted

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)