The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

types, the most important being START in Warsaw and Awangarda in Lvov. Mention should also be made of the experimental film work of Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, who carried on the traditions of the European avant-garde in films such as Apteka ('The pharmacy', 1930), Europa ( 1932), and Przygoda czlowieka poczciwego ('The adventures of a good citizen', 1937).

The outbreak of war in September 1939 put a definitive end to this period of artistic ferment and conflictual evolution. Over the next six years many actors, directors, script-writers, and composers lost their lives at the hands of the Nazi invaders. Others, including Józef Lejtes, Michal Waszyński, Henryk Wars, Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, Ryszard Ordyfiski, and Stanislaw Sielafiski, ended up in foreign countries, where they carried on working in their profession. After 1945 only a few of the wartime émigrés chose to return to a homeland devastated by war and now under Communist domination.


Balázs, Béla ( 1952), Theory of the Film.

Bartošek, Luboš ( 1986), Naš film: kapitoly z dëjin, 1896-1945 (' Our [Czechoslovak] film; chapters in its history'].

Hendrykowska, Malgorzata ( 1993a), ≽ladami tamtych cieni: film w kulturze polskiej przelomu stutci, 1895-1914 ( In search of distant shadows: film in Polish turn-of-the-century culture).

---- ( 1993b). Sladami tamtych cieni:film w Kulturze polskiej pr prezelomu stulci, 1895-1914.

Kosanović, Dejan ( 1986), Poceci kinematografija na tlu Jugoslawije, 1896-1918 (' The beginnings of cinema in Yugoslavia').

Ozimek, Stanislaw ( 1974), Film polski w wojennej potrzebie ( Tolish film under the stress of war').

Rittaud-Hutinet, Jacques ( 1985), Le Cinéma des origines: les frèes Lumière et leurs opérateurs.

Toeplitz, Jerzy ( 1970), Histotia sztuki filmowej ('History of film art'), vol. v.

Soviet Film Under Stalin



At the end of the 1920s Soviet film enjoyed a well-deserved world-wide reputation, but within a short time the fame and influence of the great directors was lost; the golden age was brief and the eclipse sudden and long lasting. The coming of the sound film made the famous 'Russian montage' outdated, and therefore was a factor in the decline. But far more important in destroying the reputation of the Soviet cinema were the political changes that took place in the early 1930s.

From 1928 to 1932 the Soviet Union experienced a massive transformation, touching on all aspects of life. The changes introduced in the cultural sphere were part and parcel of wider changes that included forcibly collectivizing the countryside, liquidating the kulaks, and attempting to build an industrial civilization in the shortest possible time. The destruction of the moderate pluralism that had existed in the 1920s came to be called by the Stalinists, perversely, 'Cultural Revolution'. Artists were cajoled and coerced to come up with principles and methods that would be suitable in the new order. Some were passive victims, but all too often they collaborated.

Although in its golden age Soviet film was widely admired, the Stalinist leadership was dissatisfied. The Bolsheviks considered film to be an excellent instrument for bringing their message to the people, and they aimed to use it, more than any other artistic medium, for creating the 'new socialist man'. These excessively high expectations were bound to lead to disappointment: films that were artistically successful and made in a Communist spirit did not attract a large enough audience. The government wanted artistically worthwhile, commercially successful, and politically correct films. It turned out that these requirements pointed in different directions and no filmmaker could possibly satisfy them all.

The Cultural Revolution aimed to remedy what seemed a fault to the Bolshevik leaders: the most interesting and experimental works from an artistic point of view remained inaccessible to simple people. In order to make an impact on workers and peasants, audiences had to be attracted. Bolshevik policies brought about some of the desired results, and in the course of the 1930s film-going for the first time became part of the life of the average citizen. In the 1920s cinema was basically an urban entertainment, but the bulk of the people lived in villages. Now the peasantry was coerced to join collective farms and the collectives were pressured to buy projectors. Between 1928 and 1940 the number of installations quadrupled and the number of tickets sold tripled.

Images from Franciszka and Stefan Themerson's Moments musicaux (Drobiazg melodyjny). Made in Poland in 1934, the film itself is now lost, but surviving materials were collaged together by Stefan Themerson in London in the 1940s.


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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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