The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

makes possible a kind of long-term distribution never before available. Though the balance of power between Hollywood and other national industries may not be easily redressed, the loosening of avenues of distribution and changing circumstances of exhibition at least provide more possibilities than ever before.

The boundaries set between television and the cinema, shaped as they were in the very specific conditions of the 1950s and 1960s, can now be seen as far more arbitrary, and far less necessary, than the discourses inherited from these earlier periods would have us believe. Definitions set as long ago as the 1920s enforced distinctions and erected barriers that impeded a freer adaptation of old forms to new, and restricted potential audiences and uses of developing media. It was the introduction of new technology that, in most cases, finally broke down these now transparent and largely obsolete distinctions. However, new technology does not develop by itself, but serves to open avenues for competing sets of institutional interests to intervene forcefully in established arrangements. Though technology may provide the opportunity for change, it is shifting political and economic alliances that either spur or slow technological growth, and determine how such technology will be used.

Thus, television did not develop-as popular myth would have it -- as a new and potent interloper which conquered cinema by capturing its audience. It developed as an adjustment of a complex set of interests already arranged along mutually contested and shifting lines. In this relationship broadcasters, cinema producers, distributors and exhibitors, and the regulatory apparatus of the State play the major roles. It is in the balance of power between these forces established in the 1950s and 1960s that our everyday understanding of the basic meaning of 'film' and 'television' was formed, and which the advent of new technologies of distribution in the 1980s and 1990s begins to overturn.


Balio, Tino (ed.) ( 1990), Hollywood in the Age of Television.

Briggs, Asa ( 1979), "The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom", vol. iv: Sound and Vision.

Caughie, John ( 1986), "Broadcasting and Cinema 1: Converging Histories".

Dickinson, Margaret, and Street, Sarah ( 1985), "Cinema and State".

Emery, Walter B. ( 1969), National and International Systems of Broadcasting.

Gorham, Maurice ( 1949), Television: Medium of the Future.

Hilmes, Michèle ( 1990), Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable.

Nippon Hoso Kyokai ( 1967), The History of Broadcasting in Japan.

Noam, Eli ( 1991), Television in Europe.

Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey ( 1989), The European Experience.

Sandford, John ( 1980), The New German Cinema.

Scannell, Paddy, and Cardiff, David ( 1991), A Social History of British Broadcasting.

Sorlin, Pierre ( 1991), European Cinemas, European Societies, 1939-1990.

The New Hollywood


The Hollywood film industry entered a new age in June 1975, with the release of Steven Spielberg's Jaws. Two years later, George Lucas's Star Wars spectacularly confirmed that a single film could earn its studio hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, and convert a poor year into a triumph. The place of movies within the Hollywood production system changed; increasingly the focus was on high-cost, potentially highly lucrative 'special attractions' -- leaving the studio mogul-managers to look for regular, predictable cash flows from the 'ancillary' markets of television series production and, from the mid 1980s, videocassette sales.


Although important changes occurred in Hollywood movie-making, the major transformation in this period was in where fans watched Hollywood's offerings. The rise of the made-for-TV movie, the introduction of cable (and satellite) film channels, and particularly the home video revolution, transformed film viewing in the 1970s and 1980s.

This began in the mid- 1970s as the TV movie expanded into the mini-series, and millions of Americans viewed critically acclaimed series like War and Remembrance and Lonesome Dove. The average made-for-TV drama, however, is a successor to Hollywood's B movies of the past, and mini-series like Hollywood Wives or The Thorn Birds are regularly produced and give a big boost to ratings. Since the turnaround time from production to presentation is so short, made-for-TV films can deal with topical issues, as in 1983 when The Day After provoked a national discussion about the possibility of nuclear disaster.

At around the same time, the world of cable television in the United States was transformed by Time Inc.'s innovative Home Box Office (HBO). For a monthly fee of about $10, cable television subscribers could see recent Hollywood motion pictures -- uncut, uninterrupted by commercials, and not sanitized to please network censors. For


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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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