The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

thereby pointed to problems had inherently subversive potential. Although Soviet cinema never regained the world-wide prestige it had enjoyed in the late 1920s, films once again became worth watching and a positive contribution to cultural life.


Kenez, Peter ( 1992), Cinema and Soviet Society, 1917-1953.

Leyda, Jay ( 1960), Kino: A History of Russian and Soviet Film.

Stites, Richard ( 1992), Soviet Popular Culture: Entertainment and Society in Russia since 1900.

Indian Cinema: Origins to Independence


India is one of the largest and most culturally varied countries in the world. It is second only to China in population, and second only to the United States in the scale and importance of its film industry. Indian films are popular not only in India itself, but in large parts of Asia and Africa and in many other countries where there are communities of Indian descent. The roots of a distinctive Indian cinema stretch back a long way and encompass a variety of cultural traditions. While Bombay was, and is, the main centre of Indian film production, film industries grew up early in the century throughout the subcontinent -- in Calcutta, Madras, Lahore, and other major centres -- basing their activity on theatrical and artistic modes which combined western and indigenous models. Out of this fusion sprang a number of genres such as the 'mythological' (based on Hindu myths and legends) which are unique to India.


Bombay and the Parsee theatre

History in India, as the historian D. D. Kosambi liked to show, often expresses itself geographically. In Bombay, even today, an arc in the heart of the city swings from the textile mills of Parel and Lalbaug to the famous dockyards adjoining Reay Road, the giant seconds market Chor Bazaar, the red-light area of Falkland Road, and towards the industrial wholesale trade up to Lohar Chawl and Crawford Market. This area, not over 10 square miles, saw the rise of the first (and then the richest) industrial working class in India, and was the base of the country's colonial economy on the west coast. It was also the place where the Indian film industry was born. The Kohinoor Film Company in Dadar, the Ranjit Movietone in Parel, and the Imperial Film Company adjoining today's Nana Chowk, the three largest studios India ever saw, flourished by the late 1920s within a few miles of each other.

The country's trader-capitalists, the kind who invested in the nascent entertainment industries of theatre and then film, emerged as a powerful economic class mainly through coastal trading with the west, Middle East, and China. Many of the first shipping enterprises of Surat and Bombay were set up by Parsees, later the founders of the nationally famed genre of the Parsee theatre.

The Parsee theatre, often considered the direct ancestor to the song-dance-action stereotype of the Hindi cinema, established itself as an industry when Sir Jamsedjee Jeejeebhoy bought the Bombay Theatre in 1835. Jeejeebhoy was one of India's biggest trader-industrialists, with a flourishing export business with China and Europe in silk, yarn, cotton, and handicrafts, and later the founder of the influential art academy, the J.J. School ( 1857), while the Bombay Theatre had begun in 1776, built as a straight copy of London's Drury Lane theatre and known, until then, mainly for performances of plays like Sheridan's School for Scandal and for its colonial British clientele. The combination established both a genre and an industry: the Bombay Theatre was followed by the even more famous Grant Road Theatre ( 1846), adapting local themes to the Elizabethan stage idiom. The romance drama, the 'mythological', the 'historical', and the adventure saga taken from popular Indian legendary tales such as Firdausi's tenth-century Shah Nama were accompanied by the first big adaptations of Shakespeare into Gujarati and Urdu. The music they used was inspired by the opera to transform the popular 'light-classical' north Indian musical, and thus to invent one of the ancestors of the early Hindi film song.

In Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and Lahore, but also in other cities, this brand of theatre was exhibited in a series of theatre palaces, usually ringed around the 'native' parts of town, in such a way as to be available to its richer clientele but also to keep its cultural distance from them. In Bombay the Edward, the oldest surviving theatre in India, was built in 1860, and was followed by the Empire, the Gaiety (now Capitol), and the Royal Opera House.


In its earliest days film exhibition was restricted to travelling tent theatres using the Edison and after 1907 the Pathé projection systems. From 1910, however, the first cinemas began to be built while the famous theatre


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
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


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 824

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.