Mark Harris
September 24, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Picture start

Enter the dream-house, brothers and sisters, leaving Your debts asleep, your history at the door: This is the home for heroes, and this loving Darkness a fur you can afford.

Movies are an illusion — and the illusion starts with the word movies. There is no such thing as a motion picture. We look at still photographs — 24 of them every second — and the talents of skilled craftsmen and artists work in concert with our imaginations to do the rest. This special issue of Entertainment Weekly is a celebration of that astonishing alchemy, a bow to the masterworks that shaped the current generation of movie lovers, a tribute to the stars and scenarios whose images still unspool across the flickering lamplight of our memories.

The opening verse is by England’s onetime poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who wrote it about the movies of the first half of this century, and who died before his son Daniel became one of the finest film actors of the second. That the lines still resonate speaks of the enduring power of cinema, and of its allure as the most intimate of art forms — the only one best experienced in the dark. Movies made before 1950 deserve an issue of their own, as do documentaries and foreign films, given only brief recognition here. (Maybe next millennium.) But in the following pages, we begin halfway through the history of film, when the twin earthquakes of television and rock & roll shook cinema to its foundations — and helped it grow up. So much for the previews. Thank you for coming. We hope you enjoy our feature presentation.

You May Like