If the concept of using credibility as a marker of quality is often true for
the depiction of the past wherein even the slightest incongruity can be
fatal, it is especially true for the biblical film. Alongside the
development of special effects there have also arisen tropes and conventions
which have become hallmarks of the epic and which are here used to support a
biblical epic aesthetic. This chapter builds on ideas about effects in the
epic film as an expression of verisimilitude, but here I propose instead to
discuss effects not as guarantor of verisimilitude, but as ‘part of an
overall process in which cinema displays itself and its powers’ (Neale 1980:
35) and how effects act as a function of spectacle, becoming part of an
industrial selling point driving audiences to the cinema.
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.