University of Exeter Press


A Critical Anthology of Eyewitness Experiences

    • 248 Pages

    This book is a carefully selected, thematically arranged collection of eyewitness accounts of seeing motion pictures – from the 1890s to the present day, and from countries across the globe. Included are essays, diaries, memoirs, travel accounts, oral history interviews, poems and extracts from novels. These verbatim accounts – from both professional and amateur writers – have been selected not only for what they tell us about the historical experience of cinema in many countries, but also for their literary value. Here is evocative testimony that shows how deeply cinema touches emotional needs, and the huge impact that the cinema has had on modern society.

    While most film history studies are centred on films or those who produce them, Picturegoers puts the voices of the audience first. It analyses and celebrates the audience’s point of view, shaped by time, experience and place, providing a rich, entertaining portrait of a medium that became so transformative precisely because anyone, rich or poor, educated or not, could share in it.

    The book will appeal to scholars interested in the relationship between cinema and society, those engaged in audience studies, and general readers interested in world cinema history.




    List of Illustrations



    First Encounters

    1. Anon., ‘Department of Physics’
    2. Anon., ‘Magic Lantern Kinetoscope’
    3. Anon., ‘Sporting Notions’
    4. Maxim Gorky, ‘Last Night I Was in the Kingdom of Shadows’
    5. Jean Renoir, ‘My Life and My Films’
    6. Junichiro Tanizaki, ‘Childhood Years’
    7. Joan Courthope, ‘Diaries of Joan Courthope’
    8. Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar, ‘Cinema in Iran’
    9. Edward Wagenknecht, ‘The Movies in the Age of Innocence’
    10. Filson Young, ‘Kinema’
    11. Robert Roberts, ‘The Classic Slum’
    12. Fermin Rocker, ‘The East End Years’
    13. Ingmar Bergman, ‘Magic Lantern’
    14. Leila Berg, ‘Flickerbook’
    15. John Sutherland, ‘Magic Moments’
    16. John Wyver, ‘Live from the Met’



    1. Andrei Tarkovsky, ‘Sculpting in Time’
    2. Ben Thomas, ‘Ben’s Limehouse’
    3. Dorothy Richardson, ‘The Front Rows’
    4. Taizo Fujimoto, ‘The Nightside of Japan’
    5. Maxwell Bodenheim, ‘East Side Moving Picture Theatre—Sunday’
    6. Claude Roy, ‘Into China’
    7. Min-Ch’ien T.Z. Tyau, ‘London Through Chinese Eyes’
    8. Mary Helen Fee, ‘A Woman’s Impression of the Philippines’
    9. Horace Green, ‘The Log of a Noncombatant’
    10. Graham Greene, ‘The Lawless Roads’
    11. George Jordan, ‘Bioscope & Cinematograph Shows’
    12. Verónica Feliu, ‘Movie-Going as Resistant Community’
    13. Louis Couperus, ‘Il Cinematografo’
    14. Ruth Frances Woodsmall, ‘Moslem Women Enter a New World’
    15. Harold Hobson, ‘Indirect Journey’
    16. C.W. Kimmins, ‘The Cinema’
    17. Alexander L. Pach, ‘With the Silent Workers’
    18. Italo Calvino, ‘A Cinema-Goer’s Autobiography’
    19. John Foster Fraser, ‘Russia of To-day’
    20. Rudolf Rocker, ‘Alexandra Palace Internment Camp in the First World War, 1914–1918’
    21. Richard Wollheim, ‘Germs’
    22. Lauchlan MacLean Watt, ‘The Heart of a Soldier’
    23. Arthur Ruhl, ‘The Other Americans’
    24. Jack Common, ‘Kiddar’s Luck’
    25. Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Words’
    26. Josef Morrell, ‘Tell Me Grandpa’
    27. Georges Perec, ‘Things’
    28. James Malone, ‘Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918’
    29. Archie Bell, ‘The Spell of China’
    30. Thomas Mann, ‘The Magic Mountain’
    31. Luke McKernan, ‘Going to the Cinema’



    1. Khalil Totah, ‘Dynamite in the Middle East’
    2. Edmund Wilson, ‘Red, Black, Blond and Olive’
    3. C.M. Leicester, ‘A Holiday in Burma’
    4. Edwa Moser, ‘The Mexican Touch’
    5. ‘Inbad’, ‘An Island Night’s Entertainment’
    6. Gloria Swanson, ‘Swanson on Swanson’
    7. Laurie Lee, ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’
    8. Madhur Jaffrey, ‘Climbing the Mango Trees’
    9. Frank Kessler, ‘Astor-Harmonie’
    10. Harry A. Franck, ‘Working North from Patagonia’
    11. Li Hung-fu, ‘Report from a Chinese Village’
    12. Arthur Ransome, ‘The Crisis in Russia’
    13. Miss Johnson, ‘An Evening at the Cinema’
    14. Park Yeon-mi, ‘In Order to Live’
    15. Otto Mänchen-Helfen, ‘Journey to Tuva’
    16. Olga Briceño, ‘Cocks and Bulls in Caracas’
    17. Jacob Tann, ‘Going to Watch a Movie in 3021’



    1. James Baldwin, ‘The Devil Finds Work’
    2. C.H. Rolph, ‘London Particulars’
    3. Molly Picon, ‘So Laugh a Little’
    4. Arnold Bennett, ‘Journal 1929’
    5. Lorna Sage, ‘Bad Blood’
    6. Edward W. Said, ‘Out of Place’
    7. Nelson Mandela, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’
    8. J.B. Priestley, ‘Delight’
    9. V.S. Naipaul, ‘The Middle Passage’
    10. John Osborne, ‘A Better Class of Person’
    11. Thomas Burke, ‘Nights in Town’
    12. Anon., ‘Sociology of Film’
    13. Es’kia Mphahlele, ‘Down Second Avenue’
    14. ‘Negro male student in High School. Age 17’, ‘Movies and Conduct’
    15. Paul van Ostaijen, ‘Asta Nielsen’



    1. Stefan Zweig, ‘The World of Yesterday’
    2. Sydney Race, ‘The Journals of Sydney Race’
    3. J.G. Ballard, ‘Miracles of Life’
    4. Véra Tsaritsyn [Lady Colin Campbell], ‘Modern Gladiators’
    5. Henry Newbolt, ‘The War Films’
    6. Virginia Woolf, ‘The Cinema’
    7. Tony Harrison, ‘Flicks and This Fleeting Life’
    8. Ray Lankester, ‘Diversions of a Naturalist’
    9. Gilbert Frankau, ‘Gilbert Frankau’s Self Portrait’
    10. George Orwell, ‘Diaries’
    11. Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘Total Recall’
    12. Paramahansa Yogananda, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’
    13. Mihail Sebastian, ‘Journal 1935–1944’
    14. Anon., ‘Newsreels’
    15. Joseph Roth, ‘Twenty Minutes from Before the War’
    16. Taran N. Khan, ‘Shadow City’


    Fears and Desires

    1. Franz Kafka, ‘The Diaries of Franz Kafka’
    2. Peter O’Toole, ‘Loitering with Intent’
    3. Vernon Scannell, ‘Autobiographical Note’
    4. Mrs K.J. Bills, ‘Facts about Birth of a Nation Play at the Colonial’
    5. Elizabeth Bowen, ‘Why I Go to the Cinema’
    6. J.M. Coetzee, ‘Boyhood’
    7. Negley Farson, ‘The Way of a Transgressor’
    8. D.H. Lawrence, ‘Mornings in Mexico’
    9. Rrekgetsi Chimeloane, ‘Whose Laetie Are You?’
    10. Canon H.D. Rawnsley, ‘The Child and the Cinematograph Show’
    11. ‘Shorthand typist secretary, 21, female’, ‘British Cinemas and their Audiences’
    12. John Baxter, ‘A Pound of Paper’
    13. Paul Rose, ‘My Memories of Star Wars Are Only True from a Certain Point of View’
    14. Mary J. Breen, ‘The Legion of Decency’
    15. ‘College girl of nineteen’, ‘Movies and Conduct’
    16. Robert Ferguson, ‘Scandinavians’
    17. Philip Norman, ‘Babycham Night’
    18. Roland Barthes, ‘Leaving the Movie Theater’



    1. Frank Cottrell-Boyce, ‘A Love Letter to Cinema’



      • 248 Pages
      • 21 Black & white illustrations