British Cinema in the 1980's: Issues and Themes

British Cinema in the 1980's: Issues and Themes

British Cinema in the 1980's: Issues and Themes

British Cinema in the 1980's: Issues and Themes

Synopsis

In recent years the role and identity of British cinema has undergone numerous changes and this book traces the ways in which British society, the British film industry, and British films have interacted in the 1980s. Hill traces the response of British filmmaking to the increasing domination of HoLLywood, examines the kinds of images British cinema has produced in this period and how they relate to the shifting sense of "British" identity, and looks closely at a number of films and genres to provide a definitive study of this important period.

Excerpt

Despite the appeal of periodizing the past in terms of decades, it is rare that social and political developments, or indeed cinematic trends, conform to neat ten-year patterns. There is, however, some justification for attributing a degree of basic coherence to Britain of the 1980s. At a political level, this was provided by the premiership of Margaret Thatcher and the related phenomenon of 'Thatcherism'. As the Introduction indicated, a Conservative government was elected to office in May 1979 and Mrs Thatcher continued as Prime Minister right through the decade (finally resigning as party leader in November 1990). While the remnants of the Thatcherite project may have survived her, there is still no doubting that this was the end of an era.

In the case of the British cinema, it is less easy to pinpoint dates although the Oscar-winning success of Chariots of Fire in March 1982 undoubtedly signalled what at least popularly became known as a 'renaissance' of British filmmaking. As with previous revivals (in the mid-1930s, during the Second World War, and in the early 1960s), this renaissance was, almost inevitably, destined to prove short-lived. None the less, the British cinema which emerged in the 1980s did contain a number of genuinely novel and distinctive aspects and did, at least temporarily, overcome some of the difficulties which beset British filmmaking in the 1970s. However, if it makes sense to view the 1980s as a relatively coherent period, is it the case that the cinema and the politics of the period were in some ways connected? The answer is almost undoubtedly 'yes' although the connections were not necessarily straightforward. In order to identify some of the links which existed, therefore, it is necessary to begin with a discussion of what is meant by the concept of 'Thatcherism'.

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