Jeffrey Richards / “Introduction” / The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in Britain, 1930-1939 / 1984Posted: July 17, 2012
This book is an essay collection re: aspects of British cinema in the 1930s, exploring how mass culture is used to generate ideological consensus. Approach: historical and contextual. Approaches films not as works of art, but as product, dealing not with art which reflects individual worldview, but artefacts/entertainment.
INTRODUCTION. Period between wars, image applied to cinema = dreams. American anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker called film studios “dream factories.” Air of ritual, and adoption of religious language. Cathedrals: seats = pews, stars = gods and goddesses, cinema manager = modern parson. Clerics and many Christians fought cinema. The Devil’s Camera polemic. See Marx, those who control means of production also control production and distribution of ideas–> expanded by Gramsci into “hegemony”–>applied to culture and mass media by Start Hall. Ruling class authority derives from combination of force and winning consent.
CULTURAL CONTEXT: 1930, dawn of British talkies. Left-wing British film culture hostile to British commercial cinema. In arts, era of realism. Left Book Club, left wing poetry, Mass Observation, social realist novels including JB Priestly, AJ Cronin, Winifred Holtby.