‘The whole beauty of the Film,’ I announced to my mother and Richard next morning at breakfast, ‘is that is has a certain fixed speed.’ The way you see it is mechanically conditioned. I mean, take a painting — you can just glance at it, or you can stare at the left hand top corner for half an hour. Same thing with a book. The author can’t stop you from skimming it, or staring at the last chapter and reading backwards. The point is, you choose your approach. When you go into a cinema it’s different. There’s the film, and you have to look at it the way the director wants you to look at it. He makes his points, one after another, and he allows you a certain number of seconds or minutes to grasp each one. If you miss anything he won’t repeat himself, and he won’t stop to explain. He can’t. He’s started something and he has to go through with it… You see, the film is really like a sort of infernal machine–‘

I stopped abruptly, with my hands in the air. I had caught myself in the middle of one of Bergmann’s most characteristic gestures.

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood

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