Film studies is currently undergoing a needed and healthy expansion of methodologies and critical approaches, including media, cultural and technology studies. This is crucial not just for examining cinemas present but also its past. Using format theory, this article opens up our understanding of what cinema has been, rather than what it should have been. It does this by documenting the minor technological footprint of movie theatres when compared to the expansive one consisting of 8mm and 16mm small-gauge projectors. In the United States by 1980, these portable devices,outnumbered commercial theatres by an estimated factor of 1000:1.
This introduction to the Film Studies special issue on Sex and the Cinema considers the special place of sex as an object of inquiry in film studies. Providing an overview of three major topic approaches and methodologies – (1) representation, spectatorship and identity politics; (2) the increasing scrutiny of pornography; and (3) new cinema history/media industries studies – this piece argues that the parameters of and changes to the research of sex, broadly defined, in film studies reflect the development of the field and discipline since the 1970s, including the increased focus on putatively ‘low’ cultural forms, on areas of film culture beyond representation and on methods beyond textual/formal analysis.
This article addresses the current state of film studies as a discipline, profession and institution, arguing that the hunt for cultural authority has been the defining feature, motivating force and tragic flaw of film studies. The current self-reflexive soul- searching reveals that the field – no longer a radical upstart – still lacks the gravitas of more established subjects. Departments have responded to identity crises and changing enrolment patterns by mummifying, killing off or burying foundational emphases. The nostalgia for film studies origins and the jeremiads about an unmanageable, unruly and recalcitrant discipline yield rose-tinted fantasies about community and mutual intelligibility that must be ultimately resisted.
This article describes the rise of MA programmes in audio-visual archiving, preservation and presentation. It distinguishes between two key developments that are transforming the contemporary graduation education in AV heritage: digital developments that significantly impact the professional field, and new governance structures that comprise a (forced) move away from film studies as disciplinary home. It is the latter, this article argues, that poses the real threat for the future of professional education in preservation and presentation of moving images.
This article looks at contemporary film scholarship in order to address one of the disciplines pressing questions: the place of cinema in a context of rapid technological change. Rather than simply focus on technology, however, the article calls for a broad set of criteria to define what counts as cinema today. In particular, it revisits the concept of expanded cinema and treats filmmaking as an event that combines the contexts of production and reception. Finally, the article insists on the relevance of film studies as a field that will continue to lead the debate on moving image media.
This article investigates the emotive potency of horror soundtracks. The account illuminates the potency of aural elements in horror cinema to engage spectators body in the light of a philosophical framework of emotion, namely, the embodied appraisal theories of emotion. The significance of aural elements in horror cinema has been gaining recognition in film studies. Yet it still receives relatively scarce attention in the philosophical accounts of film music and cinematic horror, which tend to underappreciate the power of horror film sound and music in inducing emotions. My investigation aims both to address the lacuna, and facilitate dialogue between the two disciplines.
Towards a Theory for African Cinema is an English translation of a talk given in French by the Tunisian filmmaker and critic Férid Boughedir (1944–) at a conference on international cinema, which took place in Montreal in 1974. In his presentation Boughedir discusses the vocation of the African filmmaker, who must avoid succumbing to the escapism and entertainment values of Western cinema and instead strive to reflect the contradictions and tensions of the colonised African identity, while promoting a revitalisation of African culture. Drawing on the example of the 1968 film Mandabi (The Money Order) by the Senegalese director Sembène Ousmane, Boughedir conceptualises a form of cinema which resists the influences of both Hollywood and auteur film and awakens viewers, instead of putting them to sleep. Boughedir‘s source text is preceded by a translator‘s introduction, which situates his talk within contemporary film studies.
Before 1906, there were no dedicated venues for the exhibition of film in London. Five years later, cinemas had spread all over the city, and 200,000 people were attending a film show in the city every day. Many in these first cinema audiences were children. Significantly - indeed probably uniquely for the time - cinema was a mass entertainment deliberated aimed at, and priced within the range of, the young. Decades later, some of these children left memoirs (published or unpublished), or were interviewed by oral historians. This body of evidence on the experience of cinema-going before the First World War has been hitherto ignored by film historians. This essay examines this testimony from London audience members, which is constructed around the various stages of the act of going to the cinema. The testimony demonstrates that the experience and the enjoyment of the social space that the cinema provided were at least as important as the entertainment projected on the screen. The early cinema demands greater recognition for its function as a social sphere, and particularly as a welcoming place for children.
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 businesses.
Glasgow Corporation had been sponsoring films for almost twenty years when in 1938 its Public Health Department commissioned seven silent films. This marked new relations between the Corporation and the emerging Scottish documentary film movement and a change of approach towards the films’ audiences and the city itself. The essay traces the Corporation‘s film sponsorship from the late 1930s to 1978 when the final images of Glasgow‘s Progress, the Corporation‘s last sponsored film - on its urban renewal projects were taken. By then the Corporation had been amalgamated into Strathclyde Regional Council, the century-long social project of reform had come to an end and television had made its own documentary impact. It argues that over time Corporation films served a variety of political and institutional purposes and often prefigured the fortunes of the city and its people.