Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Cinema’ Is An Essay Way Ahead Of Its Time!

Virginia Woolf was one of the best writers of the Victorian Age, perhaps one of the best writers of all times.

Revisit her writings, and you will find that her ideas hold relevance even in the 21st century!

Woolf wrote essays on feminism. Her ideas were beyond revolutionary. A strong, stubborn, and independent writer; Woolf has left no stone unturned in charming her way into the reader’s heart through her words.

“Thinking is my fighting”, she once proudly quoted. And she stood absolutely true to her proclamation.

Among her many essays that talks about love, women’s rights, their personal space and freedom, Virginia Woolf also made her opinions implicit about the newborn art in the 1920s- Cinema.

Virginia Woolf’s  ‘The Cinema’ (later titled ‘The Movies and Reality’), talked extensively about the perils and promises of this seventh art form.

Virginia Woolf called moviegoers “savages of the twentieth century…”

“The eye licks it all up instantaneously, and the brain, agreeably titillated, settles down to watch things happening without bestirring itself to think.”

In today’s world, we call this “leaving the brain behind!”

Talking about adaptations, Woolf believed in what we call today, “The book is always better than the movie.”

Virgina Woolf’s ‘The Cinema’ also talks about cinematic plagiarization!

Virginia Woolf further compares the movie to a “parasite”, by saying: “If it [movies] ceased to be a parasite, how would it walk erect?” This, in today’s words, means- Cinema should stop taking inspiration (plagiarizing) from Literature!

Well, wasn’t Virginia Woolf one cool writer? She spoke about things that most of the experts on Film and Literature are trying hard to convey today!

And if you believe that the book is always better than the movie, fret not!  You can form mind blowing arguments by reading the full text of Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Cinema’ here.



As a Literature student, Pooja is passionate about the world of words. Apart from spending hours snuggled up in a blanket with a book in hand, she enjoys digging up facts and theories about historical as well as mythological events. However, sharing them with the world is what keeps her going in life.

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