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The Phantom Empire: Movies in the Mind of the Twentieth Century

4.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  44 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
In his intense and mysterious evocation of (seemingly) every kind of movie ever made, Geoffrey O'Brien erases the distinction between spectator and commentator and virtually reinvents film writing in our time.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 17th 1995 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1995)
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Antonius Block
Imagine if Don Delillo (in Cosmopolis mode) were to write a prose poem in the style of Sans Soleil about the overpowering cultural effects of movies on their spectators, and you’d have a rough idea of what O’Brien’s dizzying head-trip of a book is like. With boundless metaphors and descriptive language that bombards you to the point that at times one forgets what’s even being described, it’s an uncontainable, visionary work that is very easy to read and very difficult to take specific ideas away ...more
Pat Rolston
Jul 06, 2015 Pat Rolston rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Incredible writing combined with a unique worldview make this a very fun read. This book will not be for everyone as the movies sited and the authors style will be foreign to many folks. He is high octane with a beat generation like energy and has a Hunter Thompson/Jack Kerouac hybrid vibe that electrifies the pages for me. I enjoy the author's premise that posits our culture is directly linked to our movies and the depth is not superficial. Highly recommended for obtaining what is clearly a per ...more
Keith B
Nov 14, 2015 Keith B rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
"You new children enjoyed, without remotely realizing it, a privilege none of your ancestors could savor: to look at the movies your parents watched, the movies your grandparents watched, and by that secretive gaze to appropriate the childhoods of the people who gave birth to you. You could even try (and it was one of the more delicate educational exercises the world afforded you) to grasp the muted sorrow of the grown-ups at seeing Gable and Garbo young, and Leslie Howard and Carole Lombard ali ...more
Tosh
Mar 04, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it
O'Brien's weird and wonderful reflection on Movies and how it mixes in with other aspects of popular culture. When I read this I felt like I was smoking opium.
Pax Analog
Jun 20, 2009 Pax Analog rated it it was amazing

Intriguing, poetic, and psychological rumination on movies. Need to read it again, as it's been a decade.
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