The definitive story of the medium that defines our times
The Big Screen tells the enthralling story of the movies: their rise and spread, their remarkable influence over us, and the technology that made the screen as important as the images it carries.
But The Big Screen is not another history of the movies. Rather, it is a wide-ranging narrative about the movies and their signal role in modern life. The celebrated film authority David Thomson takes us around the globe, through time, and across many media to tell the complex, gripping, paradoxical story of the movies. He tracks the ways we were initially enchanted by movies as imitations of life—the stories, the stars, the look—and how we allowed them to show us how to live. At the same time, movies, offering a seductive escape from everyday reality and its responsibilities, have made it possible for us to evade life altogether. The entranced audience has become a model for powerless and anxiety-ridden citizens trying to pursue happiness and dodge terror 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 grand adventure of a book, vital to anyone trying to make sense of the age of screens—the age that, more than ever, we are living in.