The Dream That Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain

The Dream That Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain

The Dream That Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain

The Dream That Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain

Synopsis

The Dream the Kicks is a classic account of the prehistory and early years of cinema in Britain. In this new paperback edition, which has been thoroughly revised to take into account recent scholarship of early cinema, Michael Chanan provides a fasciniating account of the rich and hitherto hidden history of the origins of film.Chanan demonstrates that the theory of 'the persistence of vision', which led to the invention of moving pictures, has been superceded by modern scientific findings. In its place, he puts forward a theory of invention as a type of bricolage , and shows that cinematography was a product of the forces of nineteenth century capitalism. He discusses the wealth of influences, both popular and bourgeois, on the culture of early cinema, including diorama, the magic lantern, itinerant entertainers and music hall. He looks at the relationship between film and photography, and considers the nascent film business, the ways in which early cinema was received by its audiences and the developing aesthetics of cinema in its first fifteen years.

Excerpt

The centenary of the birth of cinema in 1895 provides an apt excuse for the second edition of this book. When it was first published in 1980, early cinema was just beginning to make a come-back in academic circles. In the preceding dozen or fifteen years, the study of film had turned to other disciplines (linguistics and semiotics, psychoanalysis and structural anthropology) to reconstitute itself and its object in accordance with a new critical agenda. Film scholars reached back, in the process, to the beginnings of the theory of film in the 1920s, especially in the Soviet Union, and it was largely through those eyes that the shadowy world of early cinema was seen. Since the 1920s, writers on film had speculated about the early self-discovery by film of its artistic capacities, and pointed to its dual nature: the seizure of physical reality on the one hand, the seduction of fantasy on the other; but for the most part they saw the process as unproblematic. The 1970s changed all that, and several new studies of early cinema which have appeared since this book first came out show interesting results. One reason for a new edition, then, rather than just a re-issue, is in order to revise the account I gave then in the light of this new work.

It is not as if I have changed my mind about anything substantial, but there were examples and connections which I overlooked or misplaced, and passages where I could have expressed the argument more succinctly. I have therefore done a thorough textual revision from beginning to end. Least affected are Chapters 3-7, covering the dialectic of invention. The second chapter, however, I have almost entirely rewritten. The new versions of the last two chapters are not so drastic; the material is the same but has been re-ordered, and some new passages added. At the same

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