The British New Wave, its Origins and the Case of the A Kind of Loving

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Information about The British New Wave, its Origins and the Case of the A Kind of Loving
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Published on March 7, 2014

Author: itsirkas

Source: slideshare.net

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by Charel Muler & Ioannis Tsirkas

Charel Muler & Ioannis Tsirkas University of Sussex

 ‘[R]ealism as a specific aesthetic emerging from the documentary idea of 1930s’ (Higson 1986, p.93)  ‘[T]he importance of the documentary movement lies not in the quality of individual films, but in the impact it had in general on the British cinema’ (Hillier and Lovell 1972, p.35)  Founded by John Grieson who influenced and shaped British documentary and tried to educate citizens to understand the democratic society (Palmer 2006, p.57)  Grierson (1933, cited in Higson 1986): ‘the creative interpretation of actuality’  Collaborative, unit-style approach to film making / Intellectual, artistic and aesthetic experimentation along with propaganda / Communication between the state and the citizen (Dodd and Dood 1996, p.39) / Socialization amongst the citizens  The spectator as part of the community / Social activity and not cinema as “escapism” / Social documentation as a mode of cultural-political practice

 Emerged in the 1950’s  Continuation and influenced from the documentary movement in the 30’s and 40’s  ‘More preoccupied by the message than the medium’ (Lay 2002, p.67)  Social problem films:  exploration of issues in contemporary society  continuation of the documentary movement’s mission to educate  the problems of youth, gender, sexuality, incest, religious fundamentalism and racial intolerance as issues  Similarities with British New Wave:  “life as it is”  obfuscation of class inequalities  re-defining the limits of sexual issues

 Emerged in the late 1950’s  ‘[…] freedom from commercial constrains and considerations, and freedom to choose the subjects that interested them as artists’ (Lay 2002, p.55)  Significant differences from the British New Wave:  certain ideals and interests  worked mainly in the documentary form  British New Wave film-makers were not a collective  Continuities with the British New Wave:  visual style  same intentions such as the fascination with the culture of the traditional working class and the representation of the “now-ness” of contemporary life in Britain (Lowenstein 2000, p.225)

 Emerged in the late 1950’s and 1960’s  Working-class subjects / Certain aesthetic form / ‘[O]pen treatment of sexuality’ (Lovell 1996, p.168)  Influences from the Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave (Hill 1986, p.134)  Poetic realism / Existential truths  A shared interest in literary adaptation  Stylistic conventions (Hill 1983, p.311)  Location shooting was preferred - Use of regional actors with regional accents  The use of “place” as a place rather than setting  Extended montage sequences  Creative camera (angled shots, hand-held effects)

 Lack of political elements  Presentation of an alternative way of living  Individuals as ‘willing victims of “bad faith”’ (Hill 1986, p.139)  Working class heroes protagonist who is “limited in their sensibilities”

 Based on novel by writer Stan Barstow  John Schlesinger’s first feature film  Starring Alan Bates and June Ritchie  Low-budget (£180,000) (Murphy 1992, p.25)  Commercial and critical success (6th most successful film of 1962)

 Long takes  Little non-diegetic music  Location shooting  ‘I prefer taking a unit away from a studio and working in a manner which needn’t be in every single respect predetermined. Besides, I like bringing in real people who live in the area where I’m working’ (Manvell 1969, p.70)  Establishing shots

 Long takes  Little non-diegetic music  Location shooting  ‘I prefer taking a unit away from a studio and working in a manner which needn’t be in every single respect predetermined. Besides, I like bringing in real people who live in the area where I’m working’ (Manvell 1969, p.70)  Establishing shots

 Vic is from a working class family in a white- collar job: familiar narrative  Ingrid stems from a higher class  Activities reflect their class

 No narrative purpose  Sense of location  Use of music  Establishes/reinforces gulf in class between Vic and Ingrid

 Reviewer Pamela Gilliatt and John Hill talk about misogyny under the surface  ‘Questions of the hero’s identity in relation to a class thus never appear ‘pure,’ but are crucially “overdetermined” in relation to questions of sex’ (Hill 1983, p.304)  Female desires are depicted, but the ending favours patriarchy  Criticism of emerging consumer society (TV, clothes, etc.)  In A Kind of Loving ‘the superficial values of the new “affluence” are linked inextricably with women, whose obsession with house, television, clothes and physical appearance is persistently emphasized throughout the film’ expressing an anxiety about the erosion of masculinity (Murphy 1992, p.30)

 ‘[…] what is celebrated is not conformism and repression but the necessity of respect and understanding in a relationship. Their decision to try and make their relationship work […] seems like a triumph over emotional courage and honesty rather than a lapse into stultifying conformity’ (Murphy,1992, p.25)  Conservative values  Vic is not an “angry young man”

1. Dodd, Kathryn and Dodd, Philip (1996) ‘Engendering the Nation: British Documentary Film, 1930-1939’ in Higson, Andrew (ed) Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema. London: Cassell, pp. 38-50. 2. Higson, Andrew (1986) ‘“Britain’s Outstanding Contribution To the Film”’: The Documentary-Realist Tradition’ in Barr, Charles (ed) All Our Yesterdays: 90 Years of British Cinema. London: BFI, pp. 72-97. 3. ——— (1996) ‘Space, Place, Spectacle: Landscape and Townscape in the “Kitchen Sink’ Film’ in Higson, Andrew (ed) Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema. London: Cassell, pp. 157-177. 4. Hill, John (1983) ‘Working-class Realism and Sexual Reaction: Some Theses on the British “New Wave”’ in Curran, James and Porter, Vincent (eds) British Cinema History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, pp. 303-311. 5. ——— (1986) Sex, Class and Realism: British Cinema 1956-63. London: BFI. 6. ——— (2000) ‘From New Wave to “Brit Grit”: continuity and difference in working-class realism’ in Ashby, Justine and Higson, Andrew (eds) British Cinema: Past and Present. London: Routledge, pp. 249-260. 7. Hillier, Jim and Lovell, Alan (1972) Studies in Documentary. London: Secker & Warburg / BFI. 8. Lay, Samantha (2002) British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit Grit. London: Wallflower. 9. Lovell, Terry (1996) ‘Landscapes and Stories in 1960s British Realism’ in Higson, Andrew (ed) Dissolving Views: Key writings on British Cinema. London: Cassell, pp. 157-177. 10. Lowenstein, Adam (2000) ‘“Under-The-Skin Horrors”: Social Realism and Classlessness in Peeping Tom and the British New Wave’, in Ashby, Justine and Higson, Andrew (eds) British Cinema: Past and Present. London: Routledge, pp. 221-232. 11. Manvell, Roger (1969) New Cinema in Britain. London: Studio Vista. 12. Murphy, Robert (1992) Sixties British Cinema. London: British Film Institute. 13. Palmer, R. Barton (2006) ‘The British New Wave’ in Badley, Linda, Barton Palmer, R. and Schneider, Steven Jay (eds) Traditions in World Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 52-64.

o ‘Except for its North of England setting and inexperience of its director, there would seem little reason to categorise A Kind of Loving with the Woodfall films […]. In fact, Schlesinger […] was a pioneer of a different kind of documentary realism’ (Murphy 1992, p.26).  Considering our afore-mentioned points, do you agree with Robert Murphy’s argument that the A Kind of Loving is in actual fact a film significantly different from the others of the British New Wave? o ‘The “image of active sexuality” in the British “new wave” provided a “resistance to refinement and repression”, but this image is primarily masculine. […] The women are in the most films associated with consumerism’ (Hill 1986, p.316).  By taking into account these particular arguments of John Hill, do you find the representation of the women in the film problematic, and if so, in which ways?  Can you call to your mind some later British (and non-British) films in which we can observe the influence of the British “New Wave” realism?

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