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Title: 1970s British film : capital, culture and creativity
Author: Barber, Sian
Awarding Body: University of Portsmouth
Current Institution: University of Portsmouth
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis explores British film culture in the 1970s through an examination of specific film texts and a range of social, cultural, industrial and institutional contexts. The study adopts an interdisciplinary approach and draws on the methods and practices of both cultural historians and scholars of film. Rigorous archival and historical research is thus combined with close textual analysis of visual sources to explore the relationships between film culture, its social and economic context and wider period concerns. My work is revisionist and source-based and actively challenges much of the received wisdom about the period. Using archival sources, my thesis develops a set of contexts in which to examine the fortunes of the British film industry throughout the decade. In addition, it surveys technological and institutional changes which impact upon the development of visual style. Examining the film industry in this way enables a map of production, distribution and exhibition to be drawn. It allows for changes and new trends to be acknowledged and scrutinised. I pay particular attention to new interventions in the industry from diverse fields and changes to established institutional practices in respect, for example, of cinema's relationship to television. The thesis then examines how successive governments attempted to support or discipline the film industry, what policy initiatives and legislation were created for these purposes and the differing approaches to the industry from Labour and Conservative administrations. My examination of film censorship within the thesis demonstrates how social controls also played an important role in mediating film culture and how the British Board of Film Censors adapted to changes in popular taste and levels of permission. I show how the BFFC followed a broadly unchanged liberal policy which relied upon pragmatism rather than a formalised approach which often came into conflict with pressure groups and the political Right. Presenting this range of contexts situates my discussion of the film culture of the period within the broad socio-political climate, and suggests the importance to the industry of external and internal factors in determining film production during the 1970s. The second half of my thesis then presents six case studies of 1970s British films selected for the richness and diversity of their archival material. These case studies are neither typical nor representative but rather are used to explore issues raised by the first half of the thesis, such as methods of production and finance, marketing and distribution and the importance of popular taste. Particular attention is also given to their visual style as well as to issues of authorship, stardom, and popularity. The thesis then relates these chosen films to the wider film culture and examines the cultural tasks they perform and their ideological functions. Specific attention here is paid to the importance of creative agency and it addresses more speculative ideas of manner, performance and visual style in the 1970s. The examination of selected film texts raises questions about the way in which cinema engages selectively with contemporary concerns. It also considers the cinema's omissions and evasions, and examines its distinctive modes of address in this period. My work demonstrates the unpredictable relationship between capital and culture in 1970s British cinema and draws upon modem methodologies of film history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available