The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

broadcasting authorities, too, advocated using communication satellites for expanding their coverage nationwide (and also to the neighbouring regions, especially to central Asian republics), enhancing their channel capacity, and initiating a cable television system. Such a wide-ranging revolution in distribution, exhibition, and delivery systems for film, television, and video at a time of diminishing financial prowess of the country means the film industry must not only reach more and more of the swelling national population within the country but also create an international market for its products. This necessitates entering the commercial distribution of films abroad. Such a multifaceted scenario of change -- which is tantamount to a veritable mass-media revolution almost as profound as the anti-monarchy social revolution a dozen years earlier -- can be realized only if the government and the film industry are able to muster sufficient foresight, political will, social stability, and economic growth to sustain the industry long enough for it to become self-sufficient. Recent history, however, has suggested that political will and social stability, like economic health, are fragile commodities in Iran.


Gaffary, Farrokh ( 1973), Le Cinéma en Iran.

Issari, Mohammad Ali ( 1989), Cinema in Iran, 1900-1979.

Naficy, Hamid ( 1979), "Iranian Feature Films: A Brief Critical History".

-- ( 1992), "Islamizing Cinema in Iran".

India: Filming the Nation


In 1971 India overtook Japan to become the world's largest manufacturer of feature films, with a total of 431 titles. It had registered a fairly steady growth through the 1960s, but it fairly boomed in the next decade, topping the 700 mark in 1979. In 1975 a Unesco survey on film audiences showed that it was the only Third World nation to have a larger audience for indigenous cinema than for imported films. While foreign films remained relatively marginal to India's film distribution sector, and on two occasions the Motion Picture Export Association of America announced a boycott of the Indian market, its own foreign sales in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East (for example Malaysia) made it a cultural force equalling and sometimes outstripping Hollywood in these regions.

Inevitably the Indian cinema has come to mean many different things to different people. It developed as a cultural force largely independent of state support, surviving without subsidies (with the exception of the Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa regional governments) and facing a tax structure that hampered rather than assisted its growth. The mainstream cinema could hardly claim any 'official' cultural status, although it has had its political uses. And it has sustained a variety of ancillary industries: trade publications and fan magazines, the music recording industry, a fair portion of the popular fiction trade, the All-India Radio's only commercial 'light entertainment' channel Vividh Bharati, which was started in 1957, and now in the 1990s a variety of programming on Doordarshan (state-owned TV) and cable TV (especially the Hindi Zee-TV channel beamed on the STAR-TV network). And to the many émigré Indians whose only contact with the culture of their homeland has been through the movies, it has been the dominant source for the language of cultural diaspora -- in Britain, for instance, from Salman Rushdie's fiction to Apache Indian's music, Asian art has drawn from, commented on, and adapted its idioms for a variety of different cultural ends.

To a great extent, the Indian cinema megalith since 1960 has been effectively categorized in popular discourse as two things: the 'Hindi movie', and 'Satyajit Ray': the former being the song-dance-action stereotype made in over twelve languages and representing that most enviable of all national possessions, a cultural mainstream, and the latter a highly generalized category involving a variety of different directors generically celebrated as being culturally 'rooted' in their context. Both categories have been sustained as much by marketing strategies as by a committed and articulate brand of cinephilia accompanying each of them.

In both instances, it is obvious, a key component has been that of 'nation': and indeed, it is virtually impossible to speak of the Indian cinema without bringing somewhere into play that crucial cultural movement of Indian nationalism, and the shift or redirecting of nationalist utopia into other kinds of cultural practices after Independence was achieved and the promised 'nation' gave way to the Indian State.


India declared itself a sovereign democratic republic in 1950 and almost immediately instituted a series of measures to intervene in the movie industry that had been booming ever since the war had ended. The first was


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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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