The Big Screen tells the enthralling story of the movies: their rise and spread, their remarkable influence in the war years, and their long, slow decline to a form that is often richly entertaining but no longer lays claim to our lives the way it once did.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. At first, film was a waking dream, the gift of appearance delivered for a nickel to huddled masses sitting in the dark. But soon, and abruptly, movies began transforming our society and our perception of the world. David Thomson takes us around the globe, through time, and across many media—moving from Eadweard Muybridge to Steve Jobs, from Sunrise to I Love Lucy, from John Wayne to George Clooney, from television commercials to picture bytes on the Internet—to tell the complex, gripping, paradoxical story of the movies. He 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, 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 anxietyridden 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. Books about the movies are often aimed at film buffs, but this passionate and provocative feat of storytelling is vital to anyone trying to make sense of the age of screens—the age that, more than ever, we are living in.