Bambi vs Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business by David Mamet - review by Christopher Silvester

Christopher Silvester

Horrors of Hollywood

Bambi vs Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business


Simon & Schuster 272pp £11.99

The message of this book, which is that the movie business has been corrupted, is hardly new, but has it ever been encapsulated so elegantly? It was ‘originally the cosa nostra of arcade hustlers’, says David Mamet, yet they understood the needs and desires of the audience. Now, however, films are ‘being made no longer to attract the audience but to buttress or advance the position of the executive’. In the early days of the movie business, the moguls and producers were buccaneering risk-takers, tricksters, ‘in effect, quasi-criminals’. Since they were predominantly Ashkenazi Jews, originating from within a two-hundred-mile radius of Warsaw, and since ‘Asperger’s syndrome has its highest prevalence among Ashkenazi Jews and their descendants’, Mamet surmises that ‘it is not impossible that Asperger’s syndrome helped make the movies’. In recent times, the movie business has become bureaucratised.

Mamet is scornful of script readers, screenwriting courses (all that programmatic guff about three-act structure and character arcs), and ‘the development process’, the purpose of which seems to be to prevent films being made. Thus, a film in development ‘functions, as do the endless and proliferating committees of Government, as

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RLF - March