The Power of the Cinema
“THERE IS a real danger of historical falsehood being popularized through the film, because there is not the normal chance of one film being corrected by another film. When a book appears displaying a doubtful portrait of Queen Elizabeth, it will generally be found that about six other historical students are moved to publish about six other versions of Queen Elizabeth at the same moment. We can buy Mr. Belloc’s book on Cromwell, and then Mr. Buchan’s book on Cromwell; and pay our money and take our choice. But few of us are in a position to pay the money required to stage a complete and elaborately presented alternative film-version of Disraeli. The fiction on the film, the partisan version in the movie-play, will go uncontradicted and even uncriticised, in a way in which few provocative books can really go uncontradicted and uncritcised…. A false film might be refuted in a hundred books, without much affecting the million dupes who had never read the books but only seen the film.”
~G.K. Chesterton: Illustrated London News, Jan. 5, 1935.