The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

By contrast with Polafiski, Forman is by temperament a gentle director. His first film in the United States, Taking off ( 1971), attempted to study American family life and teenage rebellion with the same delicacy of observation he had shown in his Czech films. Thereafter he was to tackle an assortment of themes and subjects. An interest in the fragile borderline between sanity and madness sustains both One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest ( 1975) and Amadeus ( 1984), but otherwise he found it difficult to recover the consistency of style that had marked his early work.


Following the political changes of 1989, the cinemas of Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak republics, and the fast disintegrating Yugoslavia entered an entirely new phase. Political censorship was done away with, but the shift to a market economy led to drastic cuts in state subsidy for the cinema, particularly in the Czech Republic and Hungary, and a massive drop in indigenous film production. In the component parts of the former Yugoslavia (with the exception of Slovenia) production underwent a catastrophic decline as the country was plunged into civil war.

Polish cinema is relatively speaking in the best shape, being still partly subsidized by the state. Over thirty feature films were made in Poland in 1992, and this level of output was sustained through 1993. In Hungary and the Czech and Slovak republics, however, the decline in subsidized production left massive facilities lying idle and collapse was averted only by renting out studio space and services to film and television companies from the west.

The cinemas of all the post-Communist countries have come to depend increasingly on co-production for their survival. Co-production with both east and west was not uncommon in the past, but it always left space for a core of production which was national at heart. Now it has become a necessity and, as such, a mixed blessing. While providing a lifeline for struggling industries, it brings with it the risk of standardization and homogenization of film production, and a consequent threat both to individual creativity and to national specificity. The internationalization of film production is changing the character of the films produced and threatening their cultural identity in a world where the commercial-entertainment cinema genres prevail.

Films of eminent artistic quality still continue to be produced on a national basis or as international co-productions by the leading directors of central and eastern Europe. One might mention here The Double Life of Veronica ( 1991) by Krzysztof Kiešlowski, Virginia ( 1991) by Srdjan Karanović , Europe, Europe ( 1991) by Agnieszka Holland, Meeting Venus ( 1991) by István Szabó, The Silent Touch ( 1992) by Krzysztof Zanussi, and Arizona Dream ( 1991), made with French money by Emir Kusturica. Paradoxically, the Bosnian émigré Kusturica made his film abroad at the very time the French documentarists Thierry Ravalet and Alain Ferrari were making their disturbing documentary Un jour dans la mort de Sarajevo in Bosnia. Will the future spare the cinemas of central and east Europe such paradoxes? Knowing the range of talent of which these countries dispose, and the strong national traditions developed, some sort of revival can be predicted. But, as the smaller countries of western Europe have already learnt, film production without protection or subsidy is hard to maintain when serving only a small domestic market and exposed to the blast of foreign competition.


Goulding, Daniel J. (ed.) ( 1989), Post New Wave Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Liehm, Mira, and Liehm, Antonin J. ( 1977), The Most Important Art: Eastern European Film after 1945.

Michałek, Boleslaw, and Turaj, Frank ( 1988), The Modern Cinema of Poland.

Russia After the Thaw



Although the Communist Party's and Stalin's personal control over cinema clearly had a highly deleterious effect on cinema as an art form from the 1930s to the mid-1950s, Soviet cinema developed into a large-scale industry in the 1930s primarily because of the serious attention paid to it by the government and the resources which were channelled to the major studios. Cinema became not only a political and ideological tool for mass indoctrination, but also a medium of mass entertainment modelled on Hollywood. Some of the most popular films ever made in the Soviet Union are classics from the 1930s such as the Vas ilievs ' Chapayev ( 1934) and Grigory Alexandrov's Volga -- Volga ( 1938). During the era of 'few films' in the last years of Stalin's rule, these, along with Western 'trophy' films,


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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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