Name: Prue Middleton
Student Number: S2917605
Unit Code: CMM10
Unit Name: Screen History and Research
My tutor: Dr Danielle Zuvela
Unit Convenor: Dr David Baker
Assignment Name: Interview Based Report
Assignment Number: 1
Word Count: 1500
Due Date: Friday week 5
Extension Granted: No
(If yes) Extension Date: na
(If yes) Extension Date: na
Interview Based Report
Cinema in Great Britain from the 1920’s onwards became one of the most popular forms of relaxation and entertainment. Today, cinema plays a similar role in people’s lives, yet there are many differences and few similarities between the viewing experience and industry between the past and present.
One woman, Barbara can recall her experiences of attending the cinema in her home town of Doncaster. Her experience of cinema was from her childhood up to the age of 16 during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, including the end of World War 2. In Doncaster, during the 1940’s and early 1950’s there was on estimate, an audience attendance at the local cinemas of about 50,000 every week. Within the town boundaries there were over seven picture houses, used exclusively to show films that could accommodate collectively 10,000 patrons (Curry 1988, pp.1). Barbara, along with her friends were just some of those 50,000 locals who frequented the cinema as a social outing at least once a week. The Gaumont was their favourite picture house, where “boys went to westerns and girls went to musical type things”.
This report will draw on Barbara’s experiences obtained through interview and compare and contrast them with current cinema. Drawing focus to film technology, industry, audience and regulation, the changes evident will be considered what Allen and Gomery (1985) refer to in their ‘generative mechanics’ theory, as events that all constantly converge into what we realise as cinema of today.
There are three main ‘generative mechanics’ that will be considered; the importance of the market, the relationship between the film industry, the audiences, and the outsiders and social/cultural and ideological issues (Allen and Gomery 1985).
Changes in Technology
Coloured films were already significantly developed by the 1940’s. The company Technicolor lead the competition with their three-colour subtractive system. However, the market value of colour film was still uncertain, due to it’s aesthetic association with spectacle and fantasy films such as musicals, westerns, adventures and Disney’s cartoons (Neale 1985, pp. 139), all of which include a sense of non-heightened reality. Outside of these genres, the aesthetic and market value of colour was uncertain, unpredictable and unprofitable and therefore less popular. During Barbara’s time attending the cinema as a child, colour film was not ready to be accepted by the market and social conditions of the time. In contrast, colour has become the norm in present cinema; the view has shifted from colour representing fantasy to that of reality. Sequences shot in black and white now regularly represent a flash back or dream type scene.
Whilst Technicolor dominated the early developments of colour film by employing highly trained science graduates, Eastman Kodak brought competition by taking financial risks and investing heavily in research and development. World War 2 halted Technicolor’s advances as film budgets and resources shrunk, this highlights the non-straightforward historical development of film, as social and cultural events postponed technological advancements.
Due to the cultural climate, Technicolor shifted their customer focus and began to accommodate the demands of wide-screen systems (beginning in the early 1950’s), supplying the colour for the first cinemascope film, The Robe (Henry Koster 1953) (Neale 1985, pp. 144).
Barbara recalls viewing this film at her local cinema on what she describes as “a thin screen...
References: Allen, Robert Clyde, Gomery, Douglous. (1985) Film history as history. In Film history: theory and practice, Knopf, New York, pp. 3-32.
Australian Government, Australian Classification Homepage, Viewed 7 July 2014,
Austin, Bruce A (1989) Theories of moviegoing, in Immediate seating: a look at movie audiences, Wadsworth Pub. Co., Belmont, California, pp. 44-58.
Belton, John (1990) Glorious Technicolor, breath taking Cinemascope and stereophonic sound, In Balio, Tino (ed.) Hollywood in the age of television, Unwin Hyman, Boston, pp.185-211.
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