Quotation by Michael Wood

Novels, with a few famous exceptions, usually pretend that we have never read a novel before in our lives, and may never read another after this one. Movies, on the other hand, tend to assume that we spend every waking moment at the pictures, that anyone who has found his or her way to the cinema is a moviegoer, a regular, an addict.... Movies rely on our experience of other movies, on a living tradition of the kind that literary critics always used to be mourning for, because it died in the seventeenth century or fizzled out with D.H. Lawrence. The movie tradition, of course, specializes in light comedy, well-made thrillers, frothy musicals, and weepy melodramas, rather than in such works as Donne's Holy Sonnets or George Eliot's Middlemarch; and we shouldn't listen too seriously to the siren voices of those critics who claim big things for Hollywood movies as art. But there is a tradition. We have in our heads as we sit in the cinema a sense of all the films we have seen, a range of common reference which is the Greek and Latin of the movies, our classical education.
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