The Battle of Britain on Screen: 'the Few' in British Film and Television Drama

The Battle of Britain on Screen: 'the Few' in British Film and Television Drama

The Battle of Britain on Screen: 'the Few' in British Film and Television Drama

The Battle of Britain on Screen: 'the Few' in British Film and Television Drama

Synopsis

This book examines in depth for the first time the origins, development, and reception of the major dramatic screen representations of 'The Few' in the Battle of Britain produced over the past seventy years. It explores both continuity and change of presentation in relation to a wartime eventthat acquired near-mythical dimensions in popular consciousness even before it happened and has been represented multiple times over the course of the past seven decades. Alongside technical developments, considerable social, cultural, and political fluctuation (as well as an expansion of factualknowledge concerning the battle itself) occurred in this period, all of which helped to shape how the battle came to be framed at particular junctures. The ways in which the Battle of Britain was being represented in other fictional forms as well histories and commemorations form part of the context in which screen representations are explored. Films discussed in detail include The Lion Has Wings, First of the Few, Ang.

Excerpt

More than half a century after the firing stopped, the Second World War continues to resonate in the public imagination. For many decades now, whole shelves have been devoted to it in bookshops great and small, as specialist and general publishers have fed an apparently insatiable appetite for works devoted to the battles, figures, and events of the war. In the 1950s dramatic accounts of various operations that had occurred between 1939 and 1945 were a money-spinning staple of the British cinema industry. And ever since watching the small screen supplanted visiting the big screen as a common social habit, these films have continued to be major draws on television and, from the 1980s, in video outlets as well. The arrival of satellite broadcasting and the consequent expansion in the number of available channels in Britain over the last decade have seen a concomitant growth in the number of documentary and other television programmes devoted to the events and personalities of the war years. ‘English culture’, as Richard Cockett once observed, ‘is saturated by images of the Second World War’.

Within this barrage of words and images, some subjects have tended to resonate more persistently than others, not least anything dealing with events that have long been popularly regarded as among Britain’s finest hours: Dunkirk and the Blitz, for example, or, of course, the Battle of Britain. The last, in fact, which was fought out in the skies between the middle of June and the latter part of September 1940 and resulted in the defeat of the Luftwaffe and any prospective enemy invasion by RAF Fighter Command, has ranked among the most often represented events of the war both on the page . . .

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