Straight lines and rigid readings
Arthur Seaton and the arc of flight
in The British New Wave
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This chapter deals with Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Saturday Night and Sunday Morning ends with Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) and his fiancée Doreen (Shirley Ann Field) sitting on a hill overlooking a new estate that is being built. The film actually closes with him and Doreen walking down the hill leaving audiences with a question that what happens to them in the future. John Hill reaches a conclusion, what he calls the ‘new wave’ narrative. Hill reaches this conclusion by drawing on Tzvetan Todorov's concept of the passage in a narrative ‘from one equilibrium to another’. This passage begins with a stable situation that is disturbed and thus becomes ‘a state of disequilibrium’. Eventually, the original equilibrium is restored but now it is somehow different from the original situation. For Hill, the narrative of a film such as Reisz's loosely adheres to this model, with the film's central disturbance ‘usually a socially or sexually transgressive desire’. Moreover, as Hill continues, this movement from disequilibrium to a new equilibrium is not random but patterned in terms of a linear chain of events.

The British New Wave

A certain tendency?


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