British Cinema in the 1950's: a celebration by Ian MacKillop, Neil Sinyard

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By Ian MacKillop, Neil Sinyard

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154. I was given a tape of Anderson’s original cut by the director in the late 1980s. See Angus Finney, The State of European Cinema: A New Dose of Reality (Cassell, 1966). MacKillop_03_Ch2 31 9/1/03, 9:28 am 32 MacKillop_03_Ch2   …………………………………………… 32 9/1/03, 9:28 am Mirroring England MacKillop_04_Ch3 33 9/1/03, 9:29 am MacKillop_04_Ch3 34 9/1/03, 9:29 am National snapshots: fixing the past in English war films fred inglis A    end of Saving Private Ryan (1998), Steven Spielberg presents us with a screen-filling view of the Stars and Stripes.

In a wide-ranging polemic against prevailing cultural attitudes he complained that: ‘The trouble with the S & S non-theory is that it is an assortment of prejudices and habits which thinks it is the broadest possible, the biggest and best, range of tastes. 8 But Durgnat’s relationship with auteurism is a complex one. He was influenced more by the left-wing populism of Positif than the politique des auteurs espoused by Cahiers du Cinéma, and was sceptical of the over-emphasis on style and the over-valuing of Hollywood directors by English auteurists, but he was even more dubious about the opposite camp of ‘commitment’ critics who wanted an openly political cinema and retained the Documentary Movement’s hostility to popular commercial cinema.

Those same efforts of hers compounded the derision of Englishness so cordially expressed over the borders of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and concentrated at home by critics flying on the queasy, internationalist wings of academic leftism. Given that politics is now so completely dissolved into culture, those same critics on the left, friends and comrades of mine, found the Englishness of their malediction in every turn of the country’s popular narratives. In the poetry of Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin, the novels of John Fowles and Penelope Lively, the music of Benjamin Britten and William Walton, the architecture of Leslie Martin and Colin St-John Wilson and above all in the films of Michael Powell, David Lean, Anthony Asquith, Humphrey Jennings, the Brothers Boulting and company, this small, malevolent church detected a threnody sung over the loss of empire and the decline of British (which is to say English) imperial power.

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