Expanded Cinema: A Progress Report, Fifty Years On

Tom Mahon
2 min readMar 13, 2022

When I was in film school in 1970, “Expanded Cinema” by Gene Youngblood was published. It became must-read for those many of us in film schools all over the world then, dazzled by “2001” and “Yellow Submarine,” among many other films.

At the end of the book he discusses holograms as a visionary product. And I got fascinated by the idea of massless 3D objects moving in 3D space. (George Lucas introduced us to Princess Leah as a hologram seven years later in the first Star Wars film.)

And I wondered then if you could float holograms in a weightless enclosure and then float along with them and enter the story. Ride with holograms of Butch and Sundance, or become one of the Magnificent Eight, or go dancing with holograms of Katherine Ross or Candice Bergen.

A roadmap based on what Youngblood outlined back then seemed to me to be a real possibility by 2000.

We are still far from that but I recall my schoolboy fantasy of 50 years ago when I read now about the metaverse. First, I envisioned such an early 21st Century medium as a recreation, like going to a movie or a play using advanced technology. You go, you enjoy, you go back to your life.

I never thought of is as a wholly owned environment, as the metaverse will become, where one is expected to live out their entire lives under someone else’s control. Be warned; be careful.

© 2022 Thomas Mahon



Tom Mahon

I've been writing about technology for 50 yrs, most of that time in Silicon Valley. The 40 Anny reprint of my book CHARGED BODIES has just been re-printed.