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.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.