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Texts and contexts

The 2000s were a decade that saw many important Scottish films make big splashes in critical and commercial terms, the decade ending with Peter Mullan's acclaimed film Neds. The field of Scottish cinema studies was more or less born with Scotch Reels (1982), a collection of essays edited by Colin McArthur. The collection sought to unearth a history of cinematic representations of Scotland and to argue for the need for more indigenous production. Scottish cinema studies is now a field that is very much alive and vibrant, as evidenced by a recent wave of book-length publications such as the latest anthology on Scottish cinema, Scottish Cinema Now (2009). This book seeks to add to this growing tide of scholarship and in so doing assist with the project of subjecting the works of Scottish cinema to sustained close analysis and historicization. The central context of this book is the production landscape surrounding Scottish cinema over the last thirty years. After Local Hero and Trainspotting, Mrs Brown ranks as the most prominent indigenously produced contemporary Scottish film in terms of both popularity and critical prestige. The book explores Lynne Ramsay's career after Morvern Callar telling us about the optimistic narratives presented by Scottish cinema historians. The book also concerns with a figure who has been less successful in critical terms than his peers even if his films, particularly Young Adam and Hallam Foe, have resonated more with audiences than Red Road, Orphans or Neds.

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This book is a collection of essays on the author's journeys taken during the past fifteen years. They are journeys in time and of memory about a country that no longer exists: the Italy of Roberto Rossellini's Paisà, torn by war and sometimes in conflict with the American 'liberators'. The essays concentrate on the structure and forms of the films they discuss; a confrontation of cultures, the Italy of Luchino Visconti, a territory more cultural than physical, subject to transfigurations wrought by a sophisticated intellectual who viewed the world through the lens of his sensibilities. The first three essays focus on discussions and films relating to neorealism. They seek problems and inconsistencies in points of view and prejudices that have become institutionalized in popular accounts of neorealism. The next two essays are dedicated to Visconti's commemorative and antiquarian vein, to the central importance of mise en scène (in the theatrical sense) in his films. The final essay is an attempt to recover an archetypical image in Pasolini's work. The characteristics shared by these essays include a sensitivity and knowledge of the cinema, genuine scholarship, and the ability to see aesthetic resonances to painting, literature, poetry, music. The contrast between darkness and light in Paisà and in Visconti's Vaghe stelle dell'Orsais most incisive and dramatic. They are all traversed by recurrent themes and obsessions: the contrast between darkness and light, night and day.

The dollars are coming!

While post-war popular cinema has traditionally been excluded from accounts of national cinemas, the last fifteen years have seen the academy’s gradual rediscovery of cult and, more, generally, popular films. Why, many years after their release, do we now deem these films worthy of study? The book situates ‘low’ film genres in their economic and culturally specific contexts (a period of unstable ‘economic miracles’ in different countries and regions) and explores the interconnections between those contexts, the immediate industrial-financial interests sustaining the films, and the films’ aesthetics. It argues that the visibility (or not) of popular genres in a nation’s account of its cinema is an indirect but demonstrable effect of the centrality (or not) of a particular kind of capital in that country’s economy. Through in-depth examination of what may at first appear as different cycles in film production and history – the Italian giallo, the Mexican horror film and Hindi horror cinema – Capital and popular cinema lays the foundations of a comparative approach to film; one capable of accounting for the whole of a national film industry’s production (‘popular’ and ‘canonic’) and applicable to the study of film genres globally.

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Creativity, experimentation and innovation
Editors: Paul Newland and Brain Hoyle

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.

Spain as an entity and Spanish cultural identity are no less difficult to pin down as the concept of the nation state is simultaneously assailed by political, economic and cultural globalisation and the fragmentation of the state by the demands of its autonomous communities. This book presents a coherent picture of the main narrative, thematic, stylistic and representational trends which have characterised the recent cinema produced in Spain. It seeks to explore the obsession of Spanish cinema with the past and its role as part of a wider recuperation industry. The book examines the varied forms of historical cinema ranging from literary adaptation and period drama to retro thriller and musical. It offers an analysis of other main forms of genre cinema which have dominated the commercial industry and the popular imagination in Spain since the 1970s. The book explores constructions of gender and sexuality across a wide range of examples taken from a variety of contemporary movies. It also focuses on cinema in the autonomous communities, mainly Catalonia and the Basque Country. The period 1993 to 1994 was perhaps one of the most difficult for the film industry in post-Franco Spain, particularly in relation to production totals and audience figures. The setting Institut de Cinema Catalá offered a new forum for debate and inaugurated the first of a number of attempts to define what Catalan film and a Catalan film industry ought to be doing and how Catalan professionals should develop their sector.

In terms of the so-called 'clash of civilisations' after '9/11', Islamic states such as Algeria have too often been perceived in the West as 'other' and hence as threatening. This book, via an analysis of cinema, provides a discussion on some misunderstandings and assumptions about Algeria, which remains to a large extent underrepresented or misrepresented in the UK media. It is about Algerian national cinema and illuminates the ways in which the official mythologising of a national culture at the 'centre' of the postcolonial state has marginalised the diverse identities within the nation. Tahia ya didou occupies a pivotal position between fiction and documentary, capturing the hectic modernization of the Boumediene era while reflecting back on the aftermath of historical trauma. La Citadelle presents gender differences as culturally engrained and patriarchal power as secure. Youcef, Bab El-Oued City and Rome plutôt que vous present differing visions of how a Freudian melancholia in the shadow of a crushed revolt might relate to Algerian experience after Black October. Lettre à ma soeur listens to the voices of the subaltern; the film is a sense of re-emergence that follows the initial insurgency of Nabila's activism, the trauma of her killing and the subsequent years of silence and self-imposed incarceration.

Point of view and communication

This book explores the theoretical and critical concept of filmic point of view. Its case studies are six acclaimed and accomplished instances of ‘classical Hollywood cinema’: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Capra, 1936), Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, 1939), Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948), Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, 1959), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, 1962). The book’s particular contributions to the study of filmic point of view are to use ‘communication’ as an idea which permits new ways of approaching this topic, and to offer detailed explorations of the filmic representation of character experience (including character ‘consciousness’ and interaction), and of the relationship of film to other media of communication (especially print media and the novel). With respect to character experience, it is argued that the often-held distinction between an inner realm of thought and feeling and an outer realm of behaviour and objects fails to do justice to the human experience of ‘being-in-the-world’ and film’s ability to represent it. With respect to film’s relationship to other media, it explores the traversing of the public, the private and the social that narrative fiction film represents, in a way that aligns the medium with the novel. The book is offered as a demonstration and defence of the value of a ‘conversational’ critical method that entails detailed scrutiny of our film-viewing experiences and of the language we use to describe those experiences, and eschews the construction of a taxonomy designed for general applicability.

An introduction

This book provides an introduction to French film studies. It concentrates on films which have had either a theatrical or video release in Britain, or which are available on video or DVD from France. Most avant-garde film-makers, including Germaine Dulac, were unable to continue in the 1930s, faced with the technical demands and high production costs of the sound film. Exacerbated by the Depression, and above all by the financial collapse of both Gaumont and Pathé, film production fell from 158 features the previous year to only 126 in 1934, and 115 in 1935. While poetic realism was at its height, a talismanic figure in post-war film was faced with a generally lukewarm reception from critics and audiences. Thanks largely to German finance and also to an influx of filmmakers replacing those who had departed, after 1940 French film. If 1968 marked a watershed in French cinema's engagement with politics and history 1974 did the same for representations of sexuality. In that year, pornography entered mainstream French cinema. Although film-making remains male-dominated in France as elsewhere, 'more women have taken an active part in French cinema than in any other national film industry'. A quarter of all French films made in 1981 were polars, and many of those were box-office successes. French fantasy has had a particular national outlet: the bande dessinée. The heritage film often takes its subject or source from the 'culturally respectable classicisms of literature, painting, music'.

Between art and life

The term la Parisienne denotes a figure of French modernity. There is significant scholarship on la Parisienne in the fields of art history, fashion theory and culture and cultural histories of Paris However, there is little written on the (re)appearance and function of the type in cinema. This book is intended as an introduction to la Parisienne and her iconography in cinema, and deals predominantly with visual and narrative conventions, derived primarily from nineteenth-century art, literature and visual culture. The iconography of la Parisienne can be categorised according to the following concepts: visibility and mobility; style and fashionability, including self-fashioning; artist and muse; cosmopolitanism; prostitution; danger; consumption; and transformation. The book argues that la Parisienne is a type which exists between art and life, and the figure that emerges from this blurring of art and life is la Parisienne as muse. It considers the cosmopolitanism of the Parisienne type, in the sense of 'anyone' and 'anywhere', and argues that la Parisienne was conceived as feminity as such. The book explores the relationship between la Parisienne, fashion and film, and looks at la Parisienne as femme fatale within the context of French film noir. It traces her development in nineteenth-century art and literature, and examines the way the Parisienne as courtesan is (re)presented in cinema. The book also investigates the contribution star personae of Brigitte Bardot, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anna Karina, and Jeanne Moreau have made to the Parisienne type in cinema.

Ten directors

Despite the well-documented difficulties in production, distribution and exhibition that it has faced over the last fifty years, African cinema has managed to establish itself as an innovative and challenging body of filmmaking. This book represents a response to some of the best of those films. It is the first introduction of its kind to an important cross-section of postcolonial African filmmakers from the 1950s to the present. The book brings together ideas from a range of disciplines, film studies, African cultural studies and, in particular, postcolonial studies, to combine the in-depth analysis of individual films and bodies of work by individual directors with a sustained interrogation of these films in relation to important theoretical concepts. It provides both an overview of the director's output to date, and the necessary background to enable readers to achieve a better understanding of the director's choice of subject matter, aesthetic or formal strategies, ideological stance. The book focuses on what might loosely be called the auteur tradition of filmmaking, closely associated with Francophone African cinema, which explicitly views the director as the 'author' of a work of art. The aim is to re-examine the development of the authorial tradition in Africa, as well as the conception of both artist and audience that has underpinned it at various stages over the past fifty years. The works of Youssef Chahine, Ousmane Sembene, Med Hondo, Djibril Diop Mambety, Souleymane Cissé, Flora Gomes, Idrissa Ouédraogo, Moufida Tlatli, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, and Darrell James Roodt are discussed.