Happy accident
The symbiosis of Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter
in British art cinema
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The filmmaking style of Joseph Losey is rooted in his early career in the theatre. Losey’s work as a director on the New York stage in the 1930s bore the imprint of the then-experimental theories and concepts of some of the early twentieth century’s major theatre practitioners. Later, he would translate their ideas into a distinctive cinematic language which came to maturity as he developed into an ‘arthouse’ director in 1960s Britain, in exile from Hollywood’s anti-communists. This chapter outlines Losey’s career in theatre, and explores the theatrical influences on him, exemplified in the work and theories of Bertolt Brecht and Vsevelod Meyerhold. The connection from ‘stage Losey’ to ‘screen Losey’ is demonstrated through close formal analysis of films from Losey’s British film career. His exile status gave him a singular inside/outside view of Britain, which, coupled with a directorial style immersed in modernist theatre concepts, resulted in films which occupy an important place in British art cinema.

British art cinema

Creativity, experimentation and innovation

Editors: Paul Newland and Brain Hoyle

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