The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies

. October 2012. 528p. 978-0-37419-189-4. 35.
Film guru Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film) presents a freewheeling historical and sociopolitical treatment of film that deals with screens big and small worldwide. Thomson discusses the global influence of film images (from Biograph Studios to the Zapruder film to Johnny Carson); subject matter (from film noir to politics to porn); significant films, directors, and genres; how sexual relationships have shaped the film community; academia’s resistance to film studies; and his own speculations about the future of the movies. Thomson blends fact with incisively witty commentary. The high quality of this sophisticated, worldly-wise overview of the industry, art, and influence of film outweighs its rough organization, awkward (or nonexistent) reintroduction of subjects, and generally kaleidoscopic (and thus disorienting) format.
VERDICT This is an essential title for readers who know and love film and for those who wish to know more; it functions both as a great reference and a great read. Chronology and linearity be gone, this thing sparkles.

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