Twin traditions
The biopic and the composed film in British art cinema
in British art cinema
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This chapter focuses on some of the overlaps between the anti-realist tradition and British art cinema. It does this through an examination of two small, but artistically significant traditions in British filmmaking, the composed film and the artist’s biopic, and assesses how these forms have been exploited by two key figures in British art cinema: Ken Russell and Peter Greenaway. Attention is paid to Russell’s The Music Lovers, and Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching, Goltzius and the Pelican Company and Eisenstein in Guanajuato. Before this, however, the chapter briefly examines the influence of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger on the composed film. ‘Composed film’ was Powell’s adopted term for a work that was substantially or entirely shot to a pre-existing music score. Particular attention is paid to The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffman.

British art cinema

Creativity, experimentation and innovation

Editors: Paul Newland and Brain Hoyle

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