The Awakening (2011) and Development Practices in the British Film
This article reveals how screenwriter Stephen Volk‘s idea for a sequel to The
Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton) became, over the course of fifteen years, the British
horror film The Awakening (2011, Nick Murphy). It examines practitioner interviews to
reflect on creative labour in the British film industry, while also reorientating the
analysis of British horror film to the practices of pre-production, specifically
development. The research reveals that female protagonist Florence Cathcart was a
major problem for the project and demonstrates how the Florence character changed
throughout the development process. Repeatedly rewritten and ultimately restrained by
successive male personnel, her character reveals persistent, problematic perceptions
of gender in British horror filmmaking.
Cecil Court and the Emergence of the British Film Industry
Cecil Court is a small pedestrian passageway in the London Borough of Westminster.
Under its more famous name of Flicker Alley, it is also the mythic birthplace and
romantic heart of the early British film industry. This essay sets aside romantic
myths and adopts the economic theory,of agglomeration, using the film businesses
moving in and out of Cecil Court as a case study to demonstrate the changing patterns
within the industry. In doing so it charts the growth patterns and expansion of the
British film industry from 1897 to 1911. It shows its development from its origins,in
equipment manufacture, through to production and finally to rental and cinema
building and outfitting, marking the transition from its small-scale artisan-led
beginnings into a large and complex network of distinct but interlocking film
The article notes a trend towards low-key naturalism in twenty-first-century independent
queer cinema. Focusing on work by Andrew Haigh, Travis Mathews and Ira Sachs, it argues
that this observational style is welded to a highly meta-cinematic engagement with
traditions of representing non-straight people. The article coins the term ‘New Gay
Sincerity’ to account for this style, relating it to Jim Collins’s and
Warren Buckland’s writing on post-postmodern ‘new sincerity’. At its
crux, this new style centres itself in realism to record non-metropolitan, intimate and
quotidian gay lives, while acknowledging the high-style postmodernism of oppositional
1990s New Queer Cinema.
British Films of the 1970s offers fresh critical insights into a diverse range of films including Carry On Girls, O Lucky Man!, Radio On, Winstanley, Cromwell, Akenfield, Requiem for a Village, That’ll Be the Day, Pressure, The Shout, The Long Good Fridayand The Offence. The book sets out to obtain a clearer understanding of two things – the fragmentary state of the filmmaking culture of the period, and the fragmentary nature of the nation that these films represent. This book shows us that British films of the period – often hybridised in terms of genre - mediate an increasingly diverse and contested culture. It argues that there is no singular narrative to be drawn about British cinema of the 1970s, other than the fact that films of the period offer evidence of a Britain (and ideas of Britishness) characterised by vicissitudes. But the book demonstrates that while the 1970s in British filmmaking (but also in British culture and society) was a period of struggle and instability, it was also a period of openings, of experiment, of new ideas, and, as such, of profound change. The book will be of interest to scholars working on British film history but also British socio-cultural history and geography. It will appeal to academics, postgraduate and undergraduate students. But it has also been written in a style that will make it accessible to the general reader.
Although film renting began in Britain in London, the rapid spread of cinemas after
1910 meant that there was a demand for distribution closer to the sites of
exhibition. As a long-established trading centre, Manchester was well placed to
become the hub for Northern distribution, and local trade directories list
distributors from 1912 onwards. These clustered at first near Victoria Station, but
soon moved to Deansgate, as independent distributors began to outnumber branch
offices of the major companies. The life-expectancy of these was short, and the First
Worlds War affected their business, but they remain an important and under-researched
aspect of the early British cinema business.
Creating an Inclusive Film Industry through Reclaiming The Frame
In this interview with Mia Bays (Birds’ Eye View), we discuss the recent Reclaim The Frame project, a UK-wide touring programme that showcases female-directed or -scripted films, usually new or recent releases. The interview explores the idea that this kind of curation is a necessary feminist intervention in the contemporary British cinema circuit, one that offers audiences agency and acknowledges that initiatives in film production alone are not sufficient to shift structural inequalities in the film industry. The piece begins with some contextual detail before turning to my discussion with Bays.
British art cinema: Creativity, experimentation and innovation brings together a selection of essays from both new and established scholars that engage with how far artistic creativity, entertainment and commerce have informed a conceptual British ‘arthouse’ cinema. The chapters show that rather than always sitting in the shadow of its European counterparts, for example, British cinema has often produced films and film-makers that explore intellectual ideas, and embrace experiment and innovation. The book examines the complex nature of state-funded and independent British filmmaking, the relationship between the modernist movement and British cinema, and the relationship between British cinema, Hollywood and US popular culture. The chapters cover the history of British cinema from the silent period to the 2010s. Film-makers explored in detail include Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Derek Jarman, Ken Russell, Horace Ové, Joseph Losey, John Krish, Humphrey Jennings, Nicolas Roeg, and lesser-known artists such as Enrico Cocozza and Sarah Turner. There are new essays on the British New Wave, the 1980s, poetic realism and social realism, the producer Don Boyd, the Black Audio Film Collective, films about Shakespeare, and the work of the Arts Council in the aftermath of World War Two.
In a long and varied career, Lindsay Anderson made training films, documentaries, searing family dramas and blistering satires, including This Sporting Life, O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital. This book is about a director whose work came to public attention with Free Cinema but who, unlike many of his peers in that movement did not take the Hollywood route to success. What emerges is a strong feeling for the character of the man as well as for a remarkable career in British cinema. Making use of hitherto unseen original materials from Anderson's extensive personal and professional records, this book is valuable as a study of how the films came about: the production problems involved, the collaborative input of others, as well as the completed films' promotion and reception. It also offers a finely argued take on the whole issue of film authorship. It prompts renewed respect for the man and the artist and a desire to watch the films all over again.
Featuring more than 6,500 articles, including over 350 new entries, this fifth edition of The Encyclopedia of British Film is an invaluable reference guide to the British film industry. It is the most authoritative volume yet, stretching from the inception of the industry to the present day, with detailed listings of the producers, directors, actors and studios behind a century or so of great British cinema. Brian McFarlane's meticulously researched guide is the definitive companion for anyone interested in the world of film. Previous editions have sold many thousands of copies, and this fifth instalment will be an essential work of reference for universities, libraries and enthusiasts of British cinema.
The 1940s represent a high point in the history of British film, characterised by the works of such recognised greats as David Lean and Michael Powell. But alongside this ‘quality cinema’ there exists a body of popular productions by film-makers who have not yet been the objects of detailed scholarly attention. Four from the forties addresses this oversight, drawing attention to four directors whose career trajectories had a good deal in common and can tell us much about what British film-goers expected from the cinema in this crucial decade. Leslie Arliss, Arthur Crabtree, Bernard Knowles and Lawrence Huntington were all born at the turn of the century. All had been active in a range of film-making functions in the 1930s, and all would do their most proficient and popular work in the 1940s, thereafter prolonging their careers into the 1960s through ‘B’ movies, co-features and television. Taken together, they offer a commentary on the changing fortunes of mid-century British cinema.