PEOPLE say that the savage no longer
exists in us, that we are at the fag end
of civilization, that everything has been
said already and that it is too late to be
ambitious. But these philosophers have
presumably forgotten the movies. They
have never seen the savages of the twentieth
century watching the pictures. They haven
ever sat themselves in front of the screen
and thought how, for all the clothes on their
backs and the carpets at their feet, no great
distance separates them from those bright-
eyed naked men who knocked two bars of 
iron together and heard in that clangour a 
foretaste of the music of Mozart.
The bars in this case of course are so 
highly wrought and so covered over with
accretions of alien matter that it is extremely
difficult to hear anything distinctly. All is 
hubble bubble, swarm and chaos. We are 
peering over the edge of a cauldron in which 
fragments seem to simmer; and now and 
again some vast shape heaves and seems 
about to haul itself up out of chaos and the
savage in us starts forward with delight. 
Yet, to begin with, the art of the cinema 
seems a simple and even a stupid art. That 
is the king shaking hands with a football 
team; that is Sir Thomas Lipton's yacht; that 
is Jack Horner winning the Grand National. 
The eye licks it all up instantaneously and 
the brain, agreeably titillated, settles down 
to watch things happening without bestirring 
itself to think. For the ordinary eye, the 
English unaesthetic eye, is a simple mechan-
ism, which takes care that the body does 
not fall down coal-holes, provides the brain 
with toys and sweetmeats and can be trusted 
to go on behaving like a competent nurse-
maid until the brain comes to the conclusion 
that it is time to wake up. What is its sur-
prise then to be roused suddenly in the midst 
of its agreeable somnolence and asked for 
help? The eye is in difficulties. The eye 
says to the brain, 'Something is happening 

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which I do not in the least understand. You
are needed.' Together they look at the 
King, the boat, the horse, and the brain sees 
at once that they have taken on a quality 
which does not belong to the simple photo-
graph of real life. They have become not 
more beautiful, in the sense in which pic-
tures are beautiful, but shall we call it (our 
vocabulary is miserably insufficient) more 
real, or real with a different reality from 
that which we perceive in daily life? We 
behold them as they are when we are not 
there. We see life as it is when we have no 
part in it. As we gaze we seem to be re-
moved from the pettiness of actual existence,
its cares, its conventions. The horse will not 
knock us down. The King will not grasp our 
hands. The wave will not wet our feet. 
Watching the antics of our kind from this
post of vantage we have time to feel pity and 
amusement, to generalize, to endow one man 
with the attributes of the race; watching boats 
sail and waves break we have time to open
the whole of our mind wide to beauty and 
to register on top of this the queer sensation
—beauty will continue to be beautiful whether 
we behold it or not. Further, all this hap-
pened, we are told, ten years ago. We are 
beholding a world which has gone beneath the 
waves. Brides are emerging from the 
Abbey; ushers are ardent; mothers are tear-
ful; guests are joyful; and it is all over and 
done with. The war opened its chasm at 
the feet of all this innocence and ignorance. 
But it was thus that we danced and pirou-
etted, thus that the sun shone and the clouds 
scudded, up to the very end. The brain adds
all this to what the eye sees upon the screen.

But the picture-makers seem dissatisfied 
with these obvious sources of interest—the
the wonders of the actual world, flights of gulls, 
or ships on the Thames; the fascination of
contemporary life—the Mile End Road,
Piccadilly Circus. They want to be improv-
ing, altering, making an art of their own—