Jeffrey Richards / “15. Visions of the Past – Messages for the Present” / The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in Britain, 1930-1939 / 1984Posted: August 7, 2012
Historical subjects permitted filmmakers to comment on contemporary society in ways contemporary films couldn’t because of the censors. 1933, The Private Life of Henry VIII, produced by Korda, set style for historical films. Mixture of 1) mythologizing royalty – people want to know private lives of great people, 2) humanizing royalty – family life, “the unhappiness of kings” idea, discourages people from wanting power and makes powerful sympathetic. 1936, Edward VIII abdicates to marry American Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Chooses love over duty (romantic film trope). Herbert Wilcox films assured monarchy’s soundness: Victoria the Great, 1937, Sixty Glorious Years, 1938, depicted Victoria as the Great White Mother. Victoria the Great same year as Chamberlain returned from Munich, to proclaim “peace in our time.” Partly scripted by Robert Vansittart of the Foreign Office, an opponent of appeasement, and critic of Munich conference. Deeply moved Queen Mary, and many working class people as well. 1936, change toward nostalgia for Victorian values, pride in British Empire in the “age of dictators.” Only dissenters from praise were highbrow leftwing journals. Film industry generally patriotic. King George V Silver Jubilee 1935. Studio films: The King’s Jubilee, Long Live the King, 25 Years a King, Royal Cavalcade. Films rarely mentions the Depression, and tells the story of how government beat the 1926 General Strike.