Why Cars are So Crucial to the Best Movies Ever Made

Filmmakers use automobiles as movie characters unto themselves. The relationship between the car and cinema is deep and complex. Let's examine the movie industry's love affair with the automobile.

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Think about your personal favorite movies. Look at a list of the greatest films ever made. Chances are, most of the titles you come across feature automobiles in a major way. But how did the movie-making industry develop such a deep and fervent admiration for cars?

The answer is partly historical. Think about Hollywood: A city that sprang up as the movie industry blossomed in the early 20th century. That timing coincided exactly with the rise of the mass-market automobile—in a city where, in order to do just about anything, you needed a car.

But that's only part of the story. There are cinematic and artistic reasons why cars—more than any other appliance, device, or possession—get treated the way they do by great filmmakers. And .

The answer, of course, is open-ended. Much the way cellphones and smartphones changed our society, the promise (or threat) of self-driving cars is one that will shift our world irrevocably. With it, cinema portrayals of the automobile will change dramatically. And only time will tell what that looks like.

Enjoy Thomas Flight's painstakingly edited, beautifully presented examination of cars in cinema. And tell us in the comments below: What's your favorite car-centric movie?

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