The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us
In this triumphant work David Thomson, one of film's greatest living experts and author of "The New Biographical Dictionary of Film", tells the enthralling story of the movies and how they have shaped us. Taking us around the globe, through time and across multiple media, Thomson tracks the ways in which we were initially enchanted by this mesmerizing imitation of life and let movies - the stories, the stars, the look - show us how to live. But at the same time he shows us how movies, offering a seductive escape from the everyday reality and its responsibilities, have made it possible for us to evade life altogether. The entranced audience has become a model for powerless citizens trying to pursue happiness by sitting quietly in a dark room. Does the big screen take us out into the world, or merely mesmerize us? That is Thomson's question in this great adventure of a book. A passionate feat of storytelling that is vital to anyone trying to make sense of the age of screens - the age that, more than ever, we are living in. Reviews: "David Thomson is a giant in the world of film criticism, and his book is the chest-crusher you might expect: erudite, delightfully tangential and surprisingly polemical". ("The Times"). "David Thomson is, I think, the best writer on film in our time...He has found and created a marvellous plot for the history of film with insights and revelations on every page, as well as a few mcguffins. He is our most argumentative and trustworthy historian of the screen". (Michael Ondaatje). "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...A devilish, dazzling, out-there divination ...[full of] awe, poetry and witty iconoclasm...Criticism is rarely this passionate and brilliant". ("Empire"). "A grand aesthetic, spiritual, and moral account of cinema history assembled around the movies and artists that have meant the most to [Thomson]...A pungently written, brilliant book". (David Denby (author of "Snark")). "Line by line, Thomson is still the greatest biographical writer about film of all time ...to read him on his favourite films is to be sent back with renewed yearning to that land of Californian light and loveliness". ("Sunday Times"). "Subtle, erudite and entertaining". ("Economist"). "Fascinating ...a loose-limbed, conversational narrative, moving fitfully through time, dawdling over directors and films that interest ...crackling with ideas and vivid impressionisms...Thomson's stylish prose, simultaneously erudite and entertaining, captivates as it informs...Buffs and casual fans alike will enjoy this extra-large serving of popcorn for thought". ("Publishers Weekly"). "Nobody does it better". (Scott Eyman (author of "Empire of Dreams" and "Lion of Hollywood")). "Of the medium's many distinguished critics, none is better informed or more authoritative than David Thomson...["The Big Screen"] re-awakens in us the thrill and wonder of moving images and the need to know what happens next...It is as close to definitive as any book on film can be". ("Spectator Life"). "Thomson's brain is the ultimate repertory theatre, perpetually rerunning our favourites and allowing us to wonder at them all over again. The highest praise I can give him is to say that the images he treasures are just as alive on his pages as they were on the big screen". (Peter Conrad, "Guardian"). About the author: David Thomson has a fair claim to be the greatest living writer on film. His major works include "The New Biographical Dictionary of Film", now in its 5th edition, and "Have You Seen...?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films including Masterpieces, Oddities, Guilty Pleasures and Classics (with Just a Few Disasters)". Thomson was born in London, and now lives in San Francisco.
Thomson has composed a grand aesthetic, spiritual, and moral account of cinema history assembled around the movies and artists that have meant the most to him. As Thomson reconstructs film history, movies bring us close to reality and deliver us into ecstatic dreams. A pungently written, brilliant book -- David Denby (Author Of Snark) A great critic cuts both ways-he nudges you into reconsidering the films you love, as well as the ones you dislike. David Thomson's sensual prose has always amplified the imagination of a great critic. In broad outline, The Big Screen is a history of the movies, a wide-ranging task which usually carries with it a certain amount of connect-the-dots tedium. But Thomson's emphases are typically fresh and often ecstatic, even when he's disparaging a film you love. Nobody does it better -- Scott Eyman (Author Of Empire Of Dreams And Lion Of Hollywood) The best writer on film in our time ... The Big Screen is a large and vivacious map on the history of 'the screen' ... He has found and created a marvellous plot for the history of film with insights and revelations on every page ... He is our most argumentative and trustworthy historian of the screen. -- Michael Ondaatje Subtle, erudite and entertaining Economist