The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

cent more image area than standard 16 mm., was introduced in 1970-1, offering film-makers a relatively inexpensive format that facilitated blow-ups to 35 mm.) In some instances, Super 8 was used as a simple recording device by performance artists, such as Vito Acconci, who captured a number of his 'acts' on Super 8 (e.g. See Through, 1970). Manuel DeLanda used Super 8 to compose a portrait of New York City street life (Harmful or Fatal if Swallowed, 1975-80) and to document his own spray-painted graffiti ( Ismism, 1977-9).

When Super 8 sound cameras were introduced in 1974, several former 8 mm. artists, such as Saul Levine ( Notes of an Early Fall, 1976; Bopping the Great Wall of China Blue, 1979), switched to Super 8 sound. But the format also spawned a new generation of artists, such as the Filipino film-maker Raymond Red ( Pelikula, 1985), punk feminist Vivienne Dick ( Guerillere Talks, 1978; Beauty Becomes the Beast, 1979), Ericka Beckman ( We Imitate: We Break-up, 1978; Out of Hand, 1980), and Beth B and Scott B, whose The Offenders ( 1978-9) achieved the status of an underground punk classic.

Though a number of film-makers, like the Bs ( Vortex, 1982), moved up from Super 8 to 16 mm., many filmmakers continue to work in Super 8, ultimately transferring their films to video for distribution and exhibition. Taking advantage of the cheapness and flexibility of amateur equipment, British director Derek Jarman ( The Tempest, 1979; The Last of England, 1987) often shot his original cinematography on Super 8. The image quality was good enough to enable him to transfer this footage to 1" video, to transfer it to 35 mm. where it was intercut with footage originally shot in 35 mm., and to release his films theatrically in 35 mm.

Video technology continues to become increasingly important in the production of commercial motion pictures. Within the next few years, more and more films are likely to be shot on HDTV. And, in the area of exhibition, an increasing number of films will undoubtedly be released simultaneously to theatres and to home viewers via payper-view cable transmission. But, despite all these changes, for the immediate future, the 35 mm. motion picture format introduced more than 100 years ago by Thomas Edison (and his assistant W. K. L. Dickson) remains the medium of redcord.


Belton, John ( 1992), Widescreen Cinema.

Handzo, Stephen ( 1985), "A Narrative Glossary of Film Sound Technology".

Issari, Mohammad Ali, and Paul, Doris A. ( 1979), What Is Cinema Verite?

Lipton, Lenny ( 1975), The Super 8 Book.

Salt, Barry ( 1992), Film Style and Technology: History and Analysis.

Souto, H. Mario Raimondo ( 1977), The Technique of the Motion Picture Camera.

Sex and Sensation


In American movies before the 1960s, Hollywood's notorious Production Code dictated that characters got shot without bleeding, argued without swearing, and had babies without copulating. Censorship especially wreaked havoc with plot and motivation in films which either elided or occluded sexuality as an event in human life. This is not to say that sexual desire did not circulate in American films, but it was displaced: the objects of this desire tended to be exotic, often European, femmes fatales -- unattainable, glamorous, female ideals like Garbo and Dietrich whose bodies were always somehow distanced from the desires they animated.

In Europe, and particularly Scandinavia, on the other hand, sexual representations had always been comparatively less censored. French and Italian cinemas were more open to the representation of adulterous, or otherwise 'illicit', liaisons which, if not explicitly shown, were at least fully there in the narrative. Sexual desires were, for example, fully ensconced as theme and motive in French silent and sound films from Renoir's Nana ( 1926) to Max Ophuls's grand French films of the 1950s, La Ronde ( 'Merrygo-round', 1950), Le Plaisir ( 'Pleasure', 1952), and Madame de . . . (English title The Earrings of Madame de . . . , 1953). In Italy, where a certain earthiness had always prevailed, motives had often been sexual. A telling example is Visconti's Ossessione ('Obsession', 1942), adapted from James Cain's hard-boiled novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, which portrayed the physical and material hungers of provincial characters in a visceral way that the 1946 American film of the novel could not. In Italy, the return to contemporary reality called for by neo-realism meant that films as diverse as Rossellini's Il miracolo ('The miracle', 1948), De Santis's Bitter Rice ( Riso amaro, 1948), and later post-neorealist films such as De Sica's Two Women ( 1960) and Fellini's La dolce vita ( 1960) would explore sexual themes across a wide range of settings, from Anna Magnani's 'innocent' immaculate conception to Marcello Mastroianni's decline into decadent sexual play.


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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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