Author: Paul Newland

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.

Editor: Paul Newland

British Rural Landscapes on Film offers wide-ranging critical insights into ways in which rural areas in Britain have been represented on film, from the silent era, through both world wars, and on into the contemporary period. The contributors to the book demonstrate that the countryside in Britain has provided a range of rich and dense spaces into which aspects of contested cultural identities have been projected. The essays in the book show how far British rural landscapes have performed key roles in a range of film genres including heritage, but also horror, art cinema, and children’s films. Films explored include Tawny Pipit (1944), A Canterbury Tale (1944), The Go-Between (1970), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), Another Time, Another Place (1983), On the Black Hill (1987), Wuthering Heights (2011), Jane Eyre (2011), and the Harry Potter and Nanny McPhee films. The book also includes new interviews with the filmmakers Gideon Koppel and Patrick Keiller. By focusing solely on rural landscapes, and often drawing on critical insight from art history and cultural geography, this book aims to transform our understanding of British cinema.

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British journeys
Paul Newland

This chapter explores the ways in which some British films of the 1970s are structured around journeys undertaken by lone individuals. It primarily focuses on two films, O Lucky Man! and Radio On, and argues that these films, featuring solo travellers, operate as ‘state-of-the-nation’ films which serve to depict a fragmenting Britain. The chapter also places these two films within the context of British art films and British avant garde films of the period. The chapter concludes by exploring a range of films which have British characters travelling abroad, and places these films within the socio-cultural context of increased foreign (and especially European) travel in the 1970s.

in British films of the 1970s
Pop, rock and war children
Paul Newland

This chapter begins by examining how far the Second World War has an imaginative hold over a wide range of British films of the 1970s. The chapter then moves on to explore how far popular music became a central aspect of a number of films of the period, and how a number of music films demonstrate nostalgia for earlier years (especially the 1950s). The steadily increasing influence of US culture on Britain as witnessed in these films is discussed. The chapter also explores the ways in which British film producers (such as David Puttnam) and directors exploited the bankability of British pop and rock stars in order to develop films that might be successful at the box office.

in British films of the 1970s
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Racial politics
Paul Newland

This chapter explores the ways in which the racial tensions pulling at traditional notions of Britishness during the 1970s are represented in a number of films of the period. Primarily focusing on Pressure, Black Joy and Babylon, the chapter specifically examines the ways in which black immigrant communities are depicted. Particular attention is paid to the formal, aesthetic qualities of the films, and the ways in which they choose to tell stories about black communities. The chapter concludes with an examination of the ramifications of the endurance of social realist aesthetics across a range of British films of the period.

in British films of the 1970s
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Paul Newland
in British films of the 1970s
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Sexual politics
Paul Newland

This chapter examines the ways in which British films of the 1970s represent tensions evident in British society concerning contemporary shifts in sexual politics, and notices how far these tensions are informed by issues of class. The chapter primarily focuses on two films, Eskimo Nell and Carry On Girls, but also examines a range of films drawn from across different genres. The chapter notices how far issues of permissiveness in Britain are worked through in these films, and how far the liberalisation of censorship laws also affected depictions of sexual behaviour. It also notices the recurring theme of the breakdown of marriages. Finally, the chapter explores the representation of homosexuality in British films of the period.

in British films of the 1970s
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The past in the present/the present in the past
Paul Newland

This chapter examines the ways in which narratives drawn from British history are represented across a range of films of the period. Paying particular attention to the films Cromwell and Winstanley (set during the English Interregnum), the chapter explores how far the past comes to inform the present in 1970s British films. It is also argued that these films allow for contemporary political tensions to be worked through in the British past. Attention is paid to the types of historical stories being told in these films, and to the ideological implications of these stories. Attention is also paid to the formal qualities of these films - the ways in which they choose to tell their stories.

in British films of the 1970s
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The countryside and modernity
Paul Newland

This chapter examines the ways in which British films of the 1970s represent rural communities. Two films, Akenfield and Requiem for a Village, are analysed in detail in order to understand how they depict the changes underway in rural villages in Suffolk. Particular attention is paid to how far Britain as a nation in the 1970s is often depicted being torn between tradition and modernity, and how modernist aesthetics are often employed in order to do this. The chapter also explores how far aspects of Englishness often remain located in a mythical idea of the traditional countryside.

in British films of the 1970s
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Peripheral Britain
Paul Newland

This chapter explores the ways in which one particular film, The Shout, employs Dolby sound technology in order to evoke the boundaries of sanity and the edges of everyday, rational experience. The chapter then develops in order to examine the ways in which peripheral – often coastal - areas of Britain are employed in films of the 1970s as a space in which peculiar, uncanny activities are seen to be taking place. These films - such as Neither the Sea nor the Sand, Straw Dogs and Doomwatch - are placed within the contexts of a rapidly modernizing nation. As such, this chapter notices how far events such as the construction of motorways in England apparently shifted widely-held conceptions of the apparent ‘Otherness’ of rural and coastal communities.

in British films of the 1970s