Writing a history of movies, rather than film or cinema, engenders reflection on the popular, commercial underpinning of a medium that, arguably more that any other, shaped the imagination of a world moving through the turmoil of modernity. As such, it is important to recognise how technological, economic, political, and social factors informed the entrenchment of a mass media entertainment system into the collective consciousness on a global scale. But this is no easy task. As an industrialised mode of engagement with visual images, the movies, like any other omnipresent media, were formed from a complex set of circumstances that lack a neat linearity whereby specific causes lead to straightforward effects. Perhaps the most obvious problem at the start of even a brief voyage into ...

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