The Art Of The Moving Picture
Vachel Lindsay

Part 4 out of 4

It is my hope that the moving picture prophet-wizards will set before the
world a new group of pictures of the future. The chapter on The Architect
as a Crusader endeavors to show how, by proclaiming that America will
become a permanent World's Fair, she can be made so within the lives of
men now living, if courageous architects have the campaign in hand. There
are other hopes that look a long way further. They peer as far into the
coming day as the Chinese historian looks into the past. And then they
are but halfway to the millennium.

Any standard illustrator could give us Verne or Bellamy or Wells if he
did his best. _But we want pictures beyond the skill of any delineator in
the old mediums, yet within the power of the wizard photoplay producer_.
Oh you who are coming to-morrow, show us everyday America as it will be
when we are only halfway to the millennium yet thousands of years in the
future! Tell what type of honors men will covet, what property they will
still be apt to steal, what murders they will commit, what the law court
and the jail will be or what will be the substitutes, how the newspaper
will appear, the office, the busy street.

Picture to America the lovers in her half-millennium, when usage shall
have become iron-handed once again, when noble sweethearts must break
beautiful customs for the sake of their dreams. Show us the gantlet of
strange courtliness they must pass through before they reach one another,
obstacles brought about by the immemorial distinctions of scholarship
gowns or service badges.

Make a picture of a world where machinery is so highly developed it
utterly disappeared long ago. Show us the antique United States, with ivy
vines upon the popular socialist churches, and weather-beaten images of
socialist saints in the niches of the doors. Show us the battered
fountains, the brooding universities, the dusty libraries. Show us houses
of administration with statues of heroes in front of them and gentle
banners flowing from their pinnacles. Then paint pictures of the oldest
trees of the time, and tree-revering ceremonies, with unique costumes and
a special priesthood.

Show us the marriage procession, the christening, the consecration of the
boy and girl to the state. Show us the political processions and election
riots. Show us the people with their graceful games, their religious
pantomimes. Show us impartially the memorial scenes to celebrate the
great men and women, and the funerals of the poor. And then moving on
toward the millennium itself, show America after her victories have been
won, and she has grown old, as old as the Sphinx. Then give us the Dragon
and Armageddon and the Lake of Fire.

Author-producer-photographer, who would prophesy, read the last book in
the Bible, not to copy it in form and color, but that its power and grace
and terror may enter into you. Delineate in your own way, as you are led
on your own Patmos, the picture of our land redeemed. After fasting and
prayer, let the Spirit conduct you till you see in definite line and form
the throngs of the brotherhood of man, the colonnades where the arts are
expounded, the gardens where the children dance.

That which man desires, that will man become. He largely fulfils his own
prediction and vision. Let him therefore have a care how he prophesies
and prays. We shall have a tin heaven and a tin earth, if the scientists
are allowed exclusive command of our highest hours.

Let us turn to Luke iv. 17.

"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And
when he had opened the book he found the place where it was written:--

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach
the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of
the Lord.

"And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat
down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened
on him. And he began to say unto them: 'This day is this Scripture
fulfilled in your ears.'

"And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which
proceeded out of his mouth. And they said: 'Is not this Joseph's son?'"

I am moved to think Christ fulfilled that prophecy because he had read it
from childhood. It is my entirely personal speculation, not brought forth
dogmatically, that Scripture is not so much inspired as it is curiously
and miraculously inspiring.

If the New Isaiahs of this time will write their forecastings in
photoplay hieroglyphics, the children in times to come, having seen those
films from infancy, or their later paraphrases in more perfect form, can
rise and say, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." But
without prophecy there is no fulfilment, without Isaiah there is no

America is often shallow in her dreams because she has no past in the
European and Asiatic sense. Our soil has no Roman coin or buried altar or
Buddhist tope. For this reason multitudes of American artists have moved
to Europe, and only the most universal of wars has driven them home. Year
after year Europe drained us of our beauty-lovers, our highest painters
and sculptors and the like. They have come pouring home, confused
expatriates, trying to adjust themselves. It is time for the American
craftsman and artist to grasp the fact that we must be men enough to
construct a to-morrow that grows rich in forecastings in the same way
that the past of Europe grows rich in sweet or terrible legends as men go
back into it.

* * * * *

Scenario writers, producers, photoplay actors, endowers of exquisite
films, sects using special motion pictures for a predetermined end, all
you who are taking the work as a sacred trust, I bid you God-speed. Let
us resolve that whatever America's to-morrow may be, she shall have a day
that is beautiful and not crass, spiritual, not material. Let us resolve
that she shall dream dreams deeper than the sea and higher than the
clouds of heaven, that she shall come forth crowned and transfigured with
her statesmen and wizards and saints and sages about her, with magic
behind her and miracle before her.

Pray that you be delivered from the temptation to cynicism and the
timidities of orthodoxy. Pray that the workers in this your glorious new
art be delivered from the mere lust of the flesh and pride of life. Let
your spirits outflame your burning bodies.

Consider what it will do to your souls, if you are true to your trust.
Every year, despite earthly sorrow and the punishment of your mortal
sins, despite all weakness and all of Time's revenges upon you, despite
Nature's reproofs and the whips of the angels, new visions will come, new
prophecies will come. You will be seasoned spirits in the eyes of the
wise. The record of your ripeness will be found in your craftsmanship.
You will be God's thoroughbreds.

* * * * *

It has come then, this new weapon of men, and the face of the whole earth
changes. In after centuries its beginning will be indeed remembered.

It has come, this new weapon of men, and by faith and a study of the
signs we proclaim that it will go on and on in immemorial wonder.



Nov. 1, 1915.


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