From intimate pleasures to spectacular vistas: musicality and historicity in French and American 'classical' cinema of the 1930s
Brown, Tom (2007) From intimate pleasures to spectacular vistas: musicality and historicity in French and American 'classical' cinema of the 1930s. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2172326~S15
This thesis considers the role of spectacle in two modes of filmmaking in the French and American 'classical' cinemas of the 1930s. I examine the relationship of spectacle to the emotions and drama of musical films, and to the `history-telling' of biopics, war films and other genres of historical cinema. One reason for the comparison is the hegemonic position of classical Hollywood cinema in film scholarship. Although I am respectful of the insights offered by the concept of a `classical' cinema, a more central motivation for this study is the failure of much criticism to account for the relationship of spectacle to a concept denoting an unobtrusive, self-effacing style.
An introduction is followed by a chapter surveying key literature in the field, focusing in particular on work on classical French and American cinema, cinematic spectacle and filmic, particularly generic, categories. The second chapter is divided roughly in two. The first half examines the various theatrical roots of French and American musical films of the thirties. The second half examines the `utopian' feelings (Dyer, ( 1992) musical spectacle serves. This division uncovers the greater ambivalence of French musical films, and their more circuitous approach to spectacle. Chapter three examines historical films through categories inspired by the work of Friedrich Nietzsche ( 1983). I examine the prevailing `monumental' approach to historical subjects, but also two key varieties of spectacle: the `spectacular vista' and the `decor of history'. I conclude by reflecting on the possibility of a critical historiography within French and American film of the thirties.
Though the balance of my attention favours French examples in the chapter on musical films, my intention throughout is to compare and, where fruitful, contrast the two national cinemas. The thesis develops theoretical but, even more, practical understandings of particular kinds of spectacle; they are susceptible of the practice of close textual analysis. This is my central method of investigation. I attempt, throughout, to place the examination of films within their wider historical, industrial and critical contexts.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900, Spectacular, The, Musical films -- History and criticism, Historical films -- History and criticism, Motion pictures -- United States -- 20th century, Motion pictures -- France -- 20th century, Motion pictures -- Aesthetics|
|Official Date:||January 2007|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Film and Television Studies|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Vincendeau, Ginette, 1948-|
|Sponsors:||Arts and Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC) ; University of Warwick (UoW)|
|Format of File:|
|Extent:||452 leaves : col. ill.|
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