Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
Interstellar Review
The Making Of The West Wing
Subscribe To Empire Today
Save money and get 12 issues for only £25
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
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
Battlestar Galactica Vault
4 Star Empire Rating
Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy
5 Star Empire Rating
Showrunners
3 Star Empire Rating
Consumed
4 Star Empire Rating
Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective
5 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy
5 Star Empire Rating
Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective
5 Star Empire Rating
Joss Whedon: Geek King Of The Universe
5 Star Empire Rating
Art Of John Alvin, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Making Of The Return Of The Jedi, The
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.

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 48% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
World War II Movies That Win At History
World War II Movies That Win At History

The 25 Shatneriest William Shatner Moments Of All Time
Prepare. For. Many. One. Word. Sentences.

Marvel Announces Phase Three Film Slate Up To 2019
Photos from the event and have a look at all the new movie logos

Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's 25 Greatest Scares
Monsters, ghosts, horrible old ladies: the scenes that have kept us hiding behind the sofa for the last 25 years. Warning: contains spoilers.

Empire's Interstellar Review
Read our official verdict on Christopher Nolan's science-fiction epic

The 40 Most Fearsome One-Man Armies In Cinema
When you absolutely, positively have to kill every last mutha in the room...

Movie Poster Mashups: The Arctic And Antarctic Animals Edition
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be appalled at the punning...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  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)