The British Film Industry, Then and Now
As well as considering the similarities and differences between the British Film industry during the 1940’s and the British Film industry today, there are two other important issues to consider when preparing for the topic. First, as has already been indicated in the section on Hollywood in this chapter, you will need to consider those factors and features that are the same or different between the British and Hollywood industries. The second question to consider concerns a definition: what is a British Film? Whether you ultimately identify the main consistent factor in your definition to be financial, thematic, or to concern narrative, you should attempt to fortunate an answer to this question.
The ‘Golden Age’ of British cinema
The 1940’s in British cinema is often considered to have been a Golden Age in British Film production. The commencement of the Second World War in 1939 had had default a significant blow to the British Film industry: cinemas were closed, because of the threat of bombing. Of course, within a period of wartime, where national morale was low and individuals craved an escape from the deprivations brought on by the war, film was a potential means of escape and the closing of the cinemas did little to improve the spirits of the British public. The British government quickly realised this, but also realised the importance of film within propaganda campaigns. The role of film in the drawing together of the national community, and the demonizing of the threat to that community’s safety, became evident in many of the films which were released during the early 1940’s. What was also significant at this time was the particular representation of Britishness that was found in many films released. Not all film products were propagandist in tone and many presented the shifting nature of class and society in Britain at this time.
Two major British studios during this period that you need to consider were...
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