The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

Leni, had also gathered pace by 1927-8, its motives were, at least until 1933, personal and professional as much as political.

The German cinema on the eve of Hitler's rise to power confronts one with a paradox: the narrative which attributes the rise of this cinema to the flourishing of talent in the creative ferment of the Weimar Republic must perforce see its cinema enter into decline, as the Republic disintegrates under the blows of the nationalist and Fascist right. The evidence, however, does not bear this out, since if decline there was, it was due to the drain of talent away to the richer pastures of Hollywood. If, on the other hand, one takes economic performance as an indicator of success, it was only during the political upheavals of the Republic's final years that the German film industry matured into a financially viable business. Elsewhere in Europe, too, the days of an innovative art cinema were strictly limited; what is remarkable about the German cinema is how long these days lasted right at the heart of a commercial enterprise, which by its very nature should not have been able to afford them at all.


Bock, Hans-Michael, and Töteberg, Michael, (eds.) ( 1992), Das UfaBuch.

Cherchi Paolo Usai, and Codelli, Lorenzo (eds.) ( 1990), Before Caligari.

Eisner, Lotte ( 1969). The Haunted Screen.

Jacobsen, Wolfgang ( 1989). Erich Pommer.

---, Kaes, Anton, and Prinzler, Hans Helmut (eds.) ( 1993), Geschichte des deutschen Films.

Kracauer, Siegfried ( 1947), From Caligari to Hitler.

Kreimeier, Klaus ( 1992), Die Ufa-Story.

Lamprecht, Gerhard ( 1976-80), Deutsche Stummfilme, 1903-1931.

Murray, Bruce ( 1990), Film and the German Left.

Petley, Julian ( 1979), Capital and Culture.

Petro, Patrice ( 1989), Joyless Streets.

Plummer, T., et al. ( 1982), Film and Politics in the Weimar Republic.

Rentschler, Eric (ed.) ( 1986), German Film and Literature.

The Scandinavian Style


For a brief period after 1910, the countries of Scandinavia, despite their low population (less than 2.5 million in Denmark in 1901; around 5 million in Sweden in 1900) and their marginal place in the western economic system, played a major role in the early evolution of cinema, both as an art and as an industry. Their influence was concentrated into two phases: the first centred on Denmark in the four-year period 1910-13, which saw the international success of the production company Nordisk Film Kompagni; and the second on Sweden between 1917 and 1923. And, far from consisting of an isolated blossoming of local culture, Scandinavian silent cinema was extensively integrated into a wider European context. For at least ten years the aesthetic identity of Danish and Swedish films was intimately related to that of Russian and German cinema, each evolving in symbiotic relation to the others, linked by complementary distribution strategies and exchanges of directors and technical expertise. Within this network of co-operation only a marginal role was played by the other northern European nations. Finland, which did have a linguistically independent cinema, remained largely an adjunct of tsarist Russia until 1917. Iceland -- part of Denmark until 1918 -- only saw its first film theatre opened in 1906, by the future director Alfred Lind. And Norway produced only seventeen fiction titles, from its first film Fiskerlivets farer: et drama på havet ('The perils of fishing: a drama of the sea', 1908) until 1918.


The first display of moving pictures in Scandinavia took place in Norway on 6 April 1896 at the Variété Club in Oslo (or Christiania as it was then called) and was organized by two pioneers of German cinema, the brothers Max and Emil Skladanowsky. Such was the success of their show, and of their Bioskop projection equipment, that they stayed on until 5 May. In Denmark, the earliest documented moving picture show was put on by the painter Vilhelm. Pacht, who installed a Lumière Cinématographe in the wooden pavilion of the Raadhusplasen in Copenhagen on 7 June 1896. The equipment and the pavilion were both destroyed in a fire started by a recently sacked electrician out for revenge, but the show was relaunched on 30 June to a fanfare of publicity. Even the royal family had visited Pacht's Kinopticon on 11 June.

The arrival of cinema in Finland followed a few weeks on from its first appearance in St Petersburg on 16 May. Although the Lumière Cinématographe remained in the Helsinki town hall for only eight days after opening on 28 June, owing to the high prices of seats and the relatively small size of the city, the photographer Karl Emil


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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • Cinéma-Vérité and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823


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