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The lion had wings: the invention of British Cinema, 1895-1939

Moody, Paul (2013) The lion had wings: the invention of British Cinema, 1895-1939. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Studies of the relationship between British cinema and national identity have tended to focus on the subjects and themes of a select number of films, part of a canon generally agreed to represent the qualities of the British ‘character’. Yet several authors have identified limitations to this approach, and presented a range of theoretical and empirical obstacles to the concept of ‘British cinema’. This problem of provenance has been the mainstay of critical debate about the British film industry since its inception, but in prioritising textual analysis, this interpretation often ignores the additional factors involved in the development of notions of ‘Britishness’. In contrast, this thesis focuses on how the concept of what became known as ‘British cinema’, was created during the early twentieth century, addressing the contextual elements of the cinema experience, and arguing that they were extremely important in determining what ‘British cinema’ would come to represent. Using a range of private papers, government records and marketing materials, I chart the development of the link between ‘British’ cinema and national identity, and the various ways that this concept was presented to the public both in Britain and across the globe. Rather than conceive of this as a definitive form ab initio, I argue that it was a complex process of invention, a myth augmented over time and which was so potent it could accommodate a divergent range of films and filmmakers. Thus, this thesis is not a critique of what British cinema represented, but how it came to represent it.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Paul Moody
Library of Congress subject classification: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Sked, Alan

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