Catalogue


The British documentary film movement, 1926-1946 /
Paul Swann.
imprint
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
description
x, 216 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. --
ISBN
0521334799
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
isbn
0521334799
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
1544934
 
Bibliography: p. 200-207.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-01:
A thoroughly researched political and social history of British documentary film from 1926 to 1946. Swann views the films produced by John Grierson and his followers and rivals as a reaction against Hollywood films, which filled screens and swamped the British film industry after WW I. Swann's study is respectful of Grierson's contempt for the more debased forms of commercial cinema and of his rejection of film as a propaganda tool (which is what Lenin meant when he called it "the most important art") in favor of a view of film as an important means of educating and informing a democratic public. Still, the book is less worshipful than accounts that have gone before it, questioning the size of the audiences and the influence of documentaries, and pointing out the elitism of many of the films, which went against the movement's purported populist principles. Swann reflects on the irony that it was American expertise in public relations and advertising as much as the influence of Flaherty and the Russians that shaped documentaries in this period, and he notes that movements all over Europe had a similar purpose of nurturing the growth of local cinema in the withering shadow of Hollywood. A bit dry and mechanical in structure and style, the book is a solid source of information and is recommended for large film collections serving scholars and graduate students. -J. J. Jorgens, American University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Here is a useful one volume history of an important aspect of the history of film." CAST/Communication Booknotes
"Swann has written a readable, concise, and well-researched history of the organizational side of the British documentary film movement...this intelligent and often critical analysis suggests the thesis that the British documentary film movement may have been overestimated in the past in regard to both its impact and its contribution to the art of film making." Tim Travers, American Historical Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 1990
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
The most important and internationally influential development in British cinema was the documentary film movement led by John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s. This is a political and social history of that movement, which was characterized by actuality-based films made outside the commercial industry. Based on examinations of official government records, the study provides a fascinating picture of the relationship forged between Grierson and the civil service bureaucracy for his own needs and the needs of his country. The book offers a fresh look at a rare moment in the history of cinema when a different mode of production, philosophy, and source of funding permitted a determined group to create a distinguished body of work.
Description for Bookstore
The most important and internationally influential development in British cinema was the documentary film movement led by John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s. Paul Swann's study is a political and social history of this movement, which was characterized by actuality-based films made outside the commercial industry.
Main Description
Paul Swann's study is a political and social history of the documentary film movement led by John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s.
Main Description
The most important and internationally influential development in British cinema was the documentary film movement led by John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s. Paul Swann's study is a political and social history of this movement, which was characterized by actuality-based films made outside the commercial industry. Based upon examinations of official government records, this book provides a fascinating picture of how Grierson manipulated the civil service bureaucracy both for his own ends and, in his view, for the good of his country. The documentary movement was both a socially conscious group intent upon raising the consciousness - and consciences - of viewers, and something like a film school, providing opportunities to fledgling film-makers. Working in reaction to the escapist Hollywood films that then dominated British screens, the documentary film-makers drew upon traditions such as Soviet realism and the European avant-garde and used ordinary men and women instead of actors.
Main Description
The most important and internationally influential development in British cinema was the documentary film movement led by John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s. Paul Swann's study is a political and social history of this movement, which was characterized by actuality-based films made outside the commercial industry. Based upon new examinations of official government records, this book provides a fascinating picture of how Grierson manipulated the civil service bureaucracy both for his own ends and, in his view, for the good of his country. The documentary movement was both a socially conscious group intent upon raising the consciousness - and consciences - of viewers, and something like a film school, providing opportunities to fledging film-makers. Working in reaction to the escapist Hollywood films that then dominated British screens, the documentary filmmakers drew upon traditions such as Soviet realism and the European avant-garde and used ordinary men and women instead of actors. Swann offers a fresh look at a rare moment in the history of cinema, when a different mode of production, philosophy, and source of funding permitted a determined group to create a distinguished body of work. His book is a provocative examination of the role of the state in Grierson's efforts to forge an indigenous film culture as an alternative to the American feature film.
Table of Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: the British documentary film movement
The empire marketing board film unit, 1926-1933
The general post office film unit, 1933-1937
The general post office film unit, 1937-1940
The 'independent' documentary film, 1932-1939
The British documentary film, trade propaganda, and national projection, 1926-1939
The documentary movement during the war, 1939-1945
Conclusion
Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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