Moments That Made the Movies

David Thomson

"Cinema history cloaked as a coffee-table showpiece." —San Francisco Chronicle

In his first fully illustrated work, David Thomson breaks new ground by focusing in on a series of moments—which his readers will also experience in beautifully reproduced imagery—from seventy-two films across a 100-year-plus span. An indispensable counterpart to both his classic Biographical Dictionary of Film (called “a miracle” by Sight and Sound) and his lauded recent history, The Big Screen (“a pungently written, brilliant book” according to David Denby), Moments takes readers on an unprecedented visual tour, where the specifics of the imagery the reader is seeing are inextricably tied to the text. Thomson’s moments range from a set of Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering photographs to sequences in films from the classic—Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, The Red Shoes—to the unexpected—The Piano Teacher, Burn After Reading.

The excitement of Moments’s dynamic visuals will be matched only by the discussion it incites in film circles, as readers revisit their own list of memorable moments and then re-experience the films—both those included on Thomson's list and from their own life—as never before. Moments That Made the Movies will undoubtedly reaffirm Thomson's place as—according to John Banville—“the greatest living writer on the movies.”


A marvelous wordsmith with a keen eye, Thomson …somehow manages to illustrate his many moments in films both obscure …and legendary.

— The Boston Herald

The Brit transplant's long experience with writing accessible, entertaining, idiosyncratic, erudite and enlightening movie books led him to the most delightful one of all: Moments that Made the Movies…This is a keeper.


Explores iconic scenes in both classic and contemporary films that were not only enjoyable, but in some way groundbreaking.

— The Huffington Post

Moments That Made the Movies is full of assured declarations, chatty asides and free-associative essays…both fun and not a little feverish…Moment by moment, each statement is certainly worth considering, made as it is by a highly respected critic who is appreciated exactly for such a garrulous parade of this-not-that explications.

— The New York Times Book Review

The idea here is to focus on a series of moments in seventy-two films of particular significance and accompany them with wonderful stills representing those moments.

— The Nation

Accompanied by wonderfully evocative stills, this eminently browsable book is certain to delight film lovers.

— Booklist/American Library Association

[A] film-lover's treasure…The book's effect is undeniable, as the reader feels determined to hit the nearest theater.

— Publishers Weekly

Unafraid to stump for lesser-known and lowbrow movies …may inspire you to look at the whole medium anew.

— The Week

A visually thrilling tour of the magic of the movies, one special moment at a time.

— American Profile

This book is both a visual delight and a valuable tool for anyone who enjoys a good movie.

— Lifestyle Mirror

A real treasure.

— Woman Around Town

Tells of many an incredible filmed moment.

— Short and Sweet NYC

A lovely visual and written pairing that will be perfect for any film or arts library.

— The Midwest Book Review

Experiential…A great thing about Thomson is that he leaves things open.

— The Key Reporter


— Jewish Scene


David Thomson


David Thomson is a film critic and frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Guardian, and more. He is the author of The Biographical Dictionary of Film, now in its sixth edition, and Moments that Made the Movies.