Having passed my allotted three score and ten, I realise that I have spent too much time watching movies. I can only hope that come judgment a merciful Lord will forgive my frivolous wasted hours.
My excuse is that cinema has been the major literary form of my time, a powerful influence on the ideas, attitudes, values, and behaviour of a great many people. In early days that role was filled by the Bible and the classics. The 19th century was largely dominated by the novel, and for most of the 20th century it was the movies.
By default a citizen of the United States, I can only feel shame at the condition American film has reached in the 21st century—pornography, nihilistic violence, filthy-mouthedness, imitativeness, moral depravity, and just plain tackiness. American film is no longer literature unless comic books qualify as literature. Today’s movie industry is only surpassed in evil influence by its bastard offspring, television. The shame is especially acute when I realize that other countries have maintained some literary and artistic standards in their cinema—Britain, France, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Australia, Japan, and even Iran, a country which our late-Empire American megalomaniacs want to destroy. (Old men are irascible. I generalise too sweepingly about American movies. There are still good ones being produced by good people who have at least one foot out of the Hollywood mainstream.)
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