British Film Directors: A Critical Guide

British Film Directors: A Critical Guide

British Film Directors: A Critical Guide

British Film Directors: A Critical Guide

Synopsis

British national cinema has produced an exceptional track record of innovative, creative and internationally recognised filmmakers, amongst them Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell and David Lean. This tradition continues today with the work of directors as diverse as Neil Jordan, Stephen Frears, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. This concise, authoritative volume analyses critically the work of 100 British directors, from the innovators of the silent period to contemporary auteurs. An introduction places the individual entries in context and examines the role and status of the director within British film production. Balancing academic rigour with accessibility, British Film Directors provides an indispensable reference source for film students at all levels, as well as for the general cinema enthusiast.Key features include:• A complete list of each director's British feature films.• Suggested further reading on each filmmaker.• A comprehensive career overview, including biographical information and an assessment of the director's current critical standing. • 10 B&W illustrations.

Excerpt

… consequently it is virtually impossible-despite the wealth of talent and
occasional achievements of outstanding quality-to find a British film
making career that has the fullness of that of, say, Jean Renoir or Howard
Hawks. Roy Armes, A Critical History of British Cinema

There is little doubt that, in cinematic terms, we are living in the age of the director. A quick glance at the film pages in any of the national British broadsheet newspapers easily confirms this. The majority of reviews, even of mainstream commercial films, will make specific reference to the film’s director and suggest how this film conforms or deviates from the established pattern of their work. Advertisements for the latest releases will often play heavily on the director’s name and audiences are now familiar with opening credits which frequently include the claim that this is a film ‘by ’ said director. Such status is afforded to even first-time directors or those with little interest in the artistic possibilities of the medium. The notion of the director as the key figure in the creative process of film-making, to the exclusion of other individuals or wider contextual factors, appears to be broadly established both as a critical mode and a marketing tool.

This development in film culture might usefully be dated from the arrival of the auteur theory in the late 1950s, a product of the young critics at the magazine Cahier du Cinema. In claiming full artistic status for the modern era’s most popular entertainment, they elevated the role of the director to become the equivalent of a painter, sculptor or poet. This individual was a visionary who could impose their own personal vision on even the most mundane commercial chore and thereby transform it into a work of art. Although the concept of an ‘artist’s film’ predated the Cahier critics by a good forty years, it was a term that had been applied largely to the sphere of the European modernist avant-garde. Prior to the appearance of the auteur theory, very few mainstream directors had been afforded anything like this status, either from audiences or critics. Alfred . . .

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