Charles Barr / All Our Yesterdays: 90 Years of British Cinema / 1986

Millions Like Us (1943).

Introduction: Amnesia and Schizophrenia. There is a history of people denigrating British cinema. Nevertheless, since 1960s, number writers reexamining British cinema up. Alan Lovell, British cinema “The Unknown Cinema,” 1969. 3 of the most ambitious film publishing ventures of last decade: Cinema: A Critical Dictionary (1980), Dictionary of Films (1984), Dictionary of Filmmaking (1984). Many contributors from English critic Robin Wood, studied auteurs, Hitchcock, Hawks, Penn, Bergman, Satyajit Ray. Hitchcock’s Films (1965) 1st, most impressive work. Mid 60s, foundation of academic film study in Britain. British cinema constantly put down relative to Hollywood and Euro art cinema. For many, British film came into its own in WW2. In these films, the life of the community was at stake. By the end of WW2, many positive readings of “mainstream” British cinema available. Narratives of maintenance of group effort sublimating desire of individual. In Which We Serve, Millions Like Us, Fires Were Started, The Way to the Stars, San Demetrio London. Snapping out of grief of death of loved one in all 5 films and others; a central motif. Lesson drawn: British film had embraced its true vocation: realism. Qualities of restraint, stocicism validated by war; same qualities previously had been insipid to Ray and others. Henry V as culmination of wartime series of “heritage” films. This England, The Young Mr. Pitt, Lady Hamilton (Churchill’s favorite), and literature, A Canterbury Tale, Carol Reed’s film of H.G. Wells’ novel Kipps. Postwar years seen as falling off from Golden Age of purposeful austerity.


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