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The British New Wave

The British New Wave: A certain tendency?

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    The British New Wave
    Book Description:

    This book offers an opportunity to reconsider the films of the British New Wave in the light of forty years of heated debate. By eschewing the usual tendency to view films like A Kind of Loving and The Entertainer collectively and include them in broader debates about class, gender, and ideology, this book presents a new and innovative look at this famous cycle of British films. For each film, a re-distribution of existing critical emphasis also allows the problematic relationship between these films and the question of realism to be reconsidered. Drawing upon existing sources and returning to long-standing and unchallenged assumptions about these films, this book offers the opportunity for the reader to return to the British New Wave and decide for themselves where they stand in relation to the films.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-193-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Plates
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1 The British New Wave: a certain tendency?
    (pp. 1-36)

    The British New Wave is the name conventionally given to a series of films released between 1959 and 1963. Here is the series in full:Room at the Top(Jack Clayton, 1959);Look Back in Anger(Tony Richardson, 1959);The Entertainer(Tony Richardson, 1960);Saturday Night and Sunday Morning(Karel Reisz, 1960);A Taste of Honey(Tony Richardson, 1961);A Kind of Loving(John Schlesinger, 1962);The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner(Tony Richardson, 1962);This Sporting Life(Lindsay Anderson, 1963);Billy Liar(John Schlesinger, 1963).

    Conventional approaches to these films place their greatest emphasis upon viewing them as...

  6. 2 From microscope to telescope: the films of Tony Richardson
    (pp. 37-68)

    Nowadays, for Peter Hutchings, writing on British cinema tends to lack what he calls ‘evaluative judgements’. Films no longer tend to be viewed as good or bad but are often only seen as interesting. Potentially, this lack can be explained by a greater awareness of the contingency of value judgements and their relationship with broader ideological questions. At the same time, however, this is as much an issue of critical positions. As Hutchings continues, evaluative judgements do have the potential to undermine approaches concerned with establishing what a film’s significance might be. Yet, this is useful because ‘the undermining of...

  7. 3 A cinema of surfaces: Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top
    (pp. 69-89)

    Julian Petley suggests that the vaunting and valorising of certain films must inevitably occur at the expense of dismissing and denigrating others. In the case of British cinema, this creates a division between realist and non-realist films and has resulted in ‘a dark, disdained thread’ of British films that have always been critically overlooked. One problem that has always dogged discussions of British films, realist or otherwise, has been the assumption that British filmsappearto be characterised by a ‘signifying paucity, formal invisibility and concomitant stress on “content” ’.⁴ It was this ‘appearance’ that caused style-based critics such as...

  8. 4 Major themes and minor movements: composition and repetition in John Schlesinger’s Billy Liar
    (pp. 90-107)

    Towards the end ofBilly Liar, Billy Fisher, the liar of the title, played by Tom Courtenay, has arranged to go to London with his friend Liz (Julie Christie). He has bought his ticket for the late-night train but now faces a problem. Having spent the entire film telling everyone that he is leaving, Billy is faced with the possibility that he might finally have to go. The time for talking has now finished and Billy needs to act but as we watch it becomes increasingly clear that he cannot go through with his plan. Despite Liz’s gentle protests, Billy...

  9. 5 The critical forest
    (pp. 108-123)

    A Kind of Lovingopens with a shot of two rows of dirty-looking terraced houses. A group of children play football on the ground between the houses and as with the industrial spaces that were visible through the window as Joe Lampton rode the train into Warnley, a real sense of the film’s locations is established straight away. As the title-music begins, three children break off from their game and begin to run across the frame. The camera follows them from right to left and as they run past the last house on the end of the terrace a patch...

  10. 6 Straight lines and rigid readings: Arthur Seaton and the arc of flight
    (pp. 124-142)

    Saturday Night and Sunday Morningends with Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) and his fiancée Doreen (Shirley Ann Field) sitting on a hill overlooking a new estate that is being built. Arthur’s behaviour throughout the unfolding film has been characterised by a certain irresponsibility but, following an unwanted pregnancy and a beating from two soldiers, the implication is that Arthur will now submit to a more responsible future by marrying Doreen and living in one of these new houses. The film actually closes with him and Doreen walking down the hill and we never find out what happens to them in...

  11. 7 Bodies, critics and This Sporting Life
    (pp. 143-163)

    The key to understanding Lindsay Anderson’sThis Sporting Life(1963) can be in examining the relationship between the film’s organisation of space and its deployment of characters within this space.⁴ However, as crucial as this idea is I can hardly claim it to be a revolutionary one. The same could be said for almost any film in the history of narrative cinema. Yet, there are two compelling reasons why I want to consider Anderson’s film in this way. To begin with,This Sporting Lifedemonstrates a remarkable predilection for filling its frames with bodies. In addition, the stylistic choices that...

  12. 8 Single vessels and twisting ropes
    (pp. 164-175)

    This is the case I have made for reconsidering the style and meaning of the British New Wave. My examination ofSaturday Night and Sunday Morning,A Taste of Honey or Billy Liarhas been based upon the pressing desire to re-evaluate the mise-en-scène of these films. This has been achieved by applying the kind of British critical methodology that first suggested that such an approach was unnecessary. Whether sustained readings of whole films, examinations of significant moments, or the discussion of specific examples from the films that are accompanied by existing critical opinions, the preceding chapters have demonstrated the...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 176-183)
  14. Index
    (pp. 184-189)