British Cinema History

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  • Topic: Cinema of the United Kingdom, Film, Cinematograph Films Act 1927
  • Pages : 9 (3450 words )
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  • Published : December 20, 2012
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British Cinema History
Emergent British Cinema 1880-1900
Modern cinema is generally regarded as descending from the work of the French Lumière brothers in 1892, and their show first came to London in 1896. However, the first moving pictures developed on celluloid film were made in Hyde Park in 1889 by William Friese Greene, a British inventor, who patented the process in 1890. The film is the first known instance of a projected moving image. At the end of the 19th America had started to experiment in how to get a moving image onto a screen and in Britain Friese-Green was working hard at doing much the same thing on a commercial basis. The first people to build and run a working 35 mm camera in Britain were Robert W. Paul and Birt Acres. They made the first British film ‘Incident at Clovelly Cottage’ in February 1895, shortly before falling out over the camera's patent. Although the earliest British films were of everyday events, the early 20th century saw the appearance of narrative shorts, mainly comedies and melodramas. Popular and pioneering film makers included the Bamforths in Yorkshire, William Haggar and his family business in Wales and Frank Mottershaw whose film, A Daring Daylight Robbery, started the chase genre. The early films were often melodramatic in tone, and there was a distinct preference for storylines which were already known to the audience - in particular adaptations of Shakespeare plays and Dickens' novels. By the mid-twenties the British film industry was losing out to heavy competition from the United States, which was helped by its much larger home market - in 1914 25% of films shown in the UK were British, but by 1926 this had fallen to 5%. The biggest star of the silent era, English comedian Charlie Chaplin, was Hollywood based.The Cinematograph Films Act 1927 was passed in order to boost local production, requiring that cinemas show a certain percentage of British films. The act was technically a success, with audiences for British films becoming larger than the quota required. But it had the effect of creating a market for poor quality, low cost films, made in order to satisfy the quota. The 'quota quickies', as they became known, are often blamed by historians for holding back the development of the industry. However, later important British film-makers learnt their craft making such films, including Michael Powell. Early British Cinema 1900 - 1920

Another British fellow called George Albert Smith devised the first colour system, Kinemacolor, in 1908. But even now there was competition - Gaumont and Pathe had both opened film companies by 1909 and there were now films coming into England from Europe. America was advancing at a similar pace to Britain at around this time (pre –war) and two Americans, Jupp and Turner, were staring to make American films in Britain. This of course was all halted by the Great War in 1914 and efforts were directed elsewhere. By this stage Britain was starting to lag behind the US. Post war saw the nearly the death knell of British cinema as the desire for American films, and lack of money in Britain saw the industry slow down and by the mid twenties it had practically stopped. Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) is often regarded as the first British sound feature.[18][19] It was a part-talkie with a synchronised score and sound effects. With the advent of sound films, many foreign actors in less demand with English received pronunciation commonly used; Anny Ondra voice in Blackmail was substituted by an off-camera Joan Barry during Ondra's scenes. Later the same year, the first all-talking British feature, The Clue of the New Pin (also 1929) was released. It was based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, starring Donald Calthrop, Benita Home and Fred Raines, which was made by British Lion at their Beaconsfield Studios. Hitchcock had settled on the thriller genre by the mid-1930s with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938),...
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