Boy’s Own Empire
Feature films and imperialism in the 1930s
in Imperialism and Popular Culture
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By the 1930s, the image of British Empire was already established, hallowed by the popular imperial melodramas of the Victorian theatre, by the paintings of Lady Butler and the heroic engravings of the war artists. This chapter looks at the British and American epics separately in the context of their respective cultures. In the case of Britain, there were some half a dozen films actually set in and dealing with the Empire, as opposed to films detailing imperial attitudes, of which there were considerably more. The Balcon trilogy is interesting because it deals essentially with economic aspects of Empire. This is worth noting because we sometimes get the impression, due to the overwhelming military emphasis of the Hollywood imperial epics that imperial films are about India, the Army and specifically the scarlet and gold heroics of the North-West Frontier.

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