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Title: Constructing a national cinema in Britain
Author: Higson, Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0001 1448 4331
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 1990
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This exploration of British cinema as a national cinema looks at various cultural, political and industrial responses to the dominant presence of Hollywood, including competition, collusion, protectionism and product differentiation. Introductory chapters survey debates about British cinema, and offer an overview of the film industry and intellectual film culture in Britain since the 1920s. The first of three historically specific case studies looks at Hepworth's Collin' Thro' The Rye (1924) in the context of the 'heritage genre'; its pictorialism and 'primitive' narrational qualities are seen as a coherent attempt to establish an English art cinema which can display the 'national past'. The second study contrasts the activities of one of the 'Ineom-te attempting to break into the American market with films which emulate the Hollywood style (Evergreen (1934), starring Jessie Matthews, is the example used) with an 'independent' making broad musical comedies for the domestic market (Sing As We Go (1934), starring Gracie Fields, is the example used). The final case study concentrates on the the influence of the documentary movement of the 1930s on the 'melodrama of everyday life' in the mid-1940s, focussing on two critical and box-office successes, Millions Like Us (1943) and This Happy Breed (1944); the episodic, multiple narratives, the play with both the 'public gaze' of documentary and the subjective point of view of narrative cinema, and the realist detail of these films produces an image of the nation as a knowable community. These analyses reveal distinctive modes of narration and uses of space, and a distinctive way of articulating the public and the private in the British films most self-consciously differentiated from Hollywood. Although the various films examined seem quite different, they have a surprisingly consistent way of imagining the community of the nation, its history, and the space which it occupies, often within the tradition of pastoral.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: ML Literature on music ; PN Literature (General) ; HM Sociology