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Steve Chibnall

In the 1950s, 'family entertainment' was still the cinema's core business, and it was inevitable that a promising new director would be pressed into the service of the mass market for insubstantial comedy and undemanding music. It was time for J. Lee Thompson to pay his dues to light entertainment. The themes of confinement and liberation, elaborated by a discourse of moral dilemma, are worked through the contemporary preoccupations of British social life, just as they are in his more serious films. Thompson's films contain post-war housing problems and the spread of new social mores (For Better, For Worse); the impact of foreign cultural forms on the British way of life (As Long As They're Happy); the megalomania of media tycoons and the dangers of materialism (An Alligator Named Daisy); and the erosion of small-scale modes of entertainment and the sense of community they engender (The Good Companions).

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Phil Powrie

After making Le Chien de Monsieur Michel in 1977 and winning the first prize for it at the Festival de Trouville, Jean-Jacques Beineix decided to stop work as an assistant director and prepare a script with Olivier Mergault whom he had met on set. This was the story of a honeymoon gone wrong, with the newly-weds grounded in Paris by a strike. Diva was released in March 1981. Many reviewers pointed out the newness of Diva's style, which was felt to reflect a contemporary aesthetic. Diva is the only film by Beineix to have solicited considerable scholarly attention. Partly no doubt because of the film's success in the USA, it drew the attention of one of the foremost theorists of the postmodern, Fredric Jameson. He points out that the film marks a turn which corresponds to the accession to power of the left for the first time in thirty-five years.

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Edited by: E.A. Jones

The section examines the fate of hermits and anchorites during the religious changes of the Reformation period. Some hermits were outspoken critics of the Dissolution. Others were caught up in its process, though the vocations were never officially abolished. Some individuals attempted to maintain their previous form of living, in at least some of its aspects, with varying degrees of success, into and beyond the 1540s. But by the end of the sixteenth century, hermits and anchorites were already part of the medieval past that was in process of being constructed as an object of study by early modern antiquarians.

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Steve Chibnall

By 1958 British production houses were becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of continental as well as American markets. Woman in a Dressing Gown and Ice Cold in Alex had both been premiered with striking success at the Berlin Film Festival, and Rank had begun to use German stars to ease its product into European cinemas. Impressed with his success in Germany, Wintle and Parkyn approached Lee Thompson to direct a vehicle for another 'Deutscher Star', Horst Buchholz. I Aim at the Stars gave Lee Thompson the opportunity to work with another 'Deutscher Star', Curt Jurgens, who played von Braun with a 'quiet, persuasive intensity'. Von Braun might be looking at the stars, but London critics judged that Lee Thompson was definitely standing in the gutter. Tiger Bay began filming only a few days after white youths in London's Notting Hill had mounted well-publicised attacks on the area's black residents.

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Diana Holmes and Robert Ingram

François Truffaut's films provide little explicit commentary on the social or political questions of their times. One way of approaching the films' system of values is through the underlying tension between what Truffaut tends to term 'le définitif' ('the definitive', 'the absolute') and 'le provisoire' ('the provisional', 'the impermanent'). La Nuit américaine expresses Truffaut's immense delight in the process of fictionalising reality into film and in the power of the medium to reverse the flow of time and to refuse the definitive nature of the past. Made five years after La Nuit américaine, La Chambre (based on a Henry James story) presents Truffaut in a role totally opposed to that of the film-director Ferrand. One of the films that has been most reproached with a failure to address socio-political issues is Le Dernier métro, set under the German Occupation and thus unavoidably referring to a contentious period in French history.

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Edited by: E.A. Jones

This section provides some insights into the daily routine of anchorites. Whereas most of the sources for Chapter 2 are administrative, the focus of this chapter is primarily on anchoritic rules and works of guidance, including the complete text of a rule for a monk-anchorite of Bury St Edmunds and excerpts from the fifteenth-century Speculum Inclusorum. Topics covered include food and drink, clothing, speech and silence, manual labour and other pastimes, and the reception of visitors. There is also a consideration of some anchorites’ visions that may be compared with those of Julian of Norwich.

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The context

Cinema saved my life

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Diana Holmes and Robert Ingram

François Truffaut's work invites biographical readings. This chapter provides a brief account of Truffaut's early life in post-war France. At the time of the Liberation in 1944 Truffaut was twelve-years old, a precociously literate and knowledgeable filmgoer, intellectually and emotionally committed to cinema, thus far primarily French cinema. The end of the Occupation left the French film industry divided, disorganised and lacking in resources. The work done by Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s was central to the development of film theory and criticism not only in France but also in the USA, Britain and the rest of Europe. The Cahiers team were united in their Bazinian respect for a particular kind of realism, their enthusiasm for Hollywood genre films and their dislike of the kind of cinema that was dominant in France.

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Elizabeth Ezra

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book aims to re-evaluate Georges Méliès's place in film history by examining some of the myths surrounding his work. These myths have been all-pervasive, leading many film students and scholars to accept them unquestioningly. However, by acknowledging Méliès's status as an auteur working independently to make a distinctive mark on the films he wrote, designed, directed, edited, produced and starred in, it is possible to replace these myths with a more accurate assessment of Méliès's legacy. The book shows that Méliès's films lend themselves to narrative analysis. What is most clear is that Méliès was a Janus-faced figure linking two centuries: he drew upon and developed the theatrical traditions of the nineteenth, but he also had a profound influence on cinematic art of the twentieth.

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Phil Powrie

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book shows how Jean-Jacques Beineix's films form a coherent body of work and sketches out a psychodrama formed by Beineix's feature films. It depends largely on the idea that a director's films, however heterogeneous in appearance, nevertheless have themes and styles in common which suggest the worldview of an auteur. It is likely that for the youth audiences of the cinéma du look, the notion of the auteur played little part in their appreciation of Beineix's films, as the difference in audience figures between Diva and La Lune dans le caniveau suggests. It is ironic that Beineix's films have been seen principally as part of the modernisation which the multiplex and a new type of audience might be considered to represent.

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Edited by: E.A. Jones

The sources selected for this section illustrate various aspects of the material life of anchorites in their cells. They include evidence for the size, design and furnishing of the reclusory; the provision of food and other necessities, including the role of servants; and patronage in a range of forms, from occasional and customary gifts to bequests in wills, and from a variety of patrons, ranging from ordinary local people to nobles such as Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII.