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A New History of British Documentary - download pdf or read online

By J. Chapman

A brand new background of British Documentary is the 1st accomplished evaluation of documentary construction in Britain from early movie to the current day. It covers either the movie and tv industries and demonstrates how documentary perform has tailored to altering institutional and ideological contexts.

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This can be seen in his development (with cinematographer G. A. Smith) of an early colour process known as Kinemacolor. 19 At the same time, Kinemacolor could be marketed as an attraction in its own right that would draw patrons into film shows by offering something different from other films. Kinemacolor’s potential for visual spectacle was demonstrated in its use for actuality subjects such as the unveiling of the Queen Victoria Memorial and the coronation of King George V (both 1911). ’20 Urban’s greatest triumph was his Kinemacolor film Coronation Durbar at Delhi (1911) – a record of the spectacular ceremony anointing George V as Emperor of India – which was shown to much critical and 24 A New History of British Documentary popular acclaim at the Scala Theatre in London.

Woolfe and Summers would almost certainly have been aware of these films though it is unclear whether they had seen them as most were not screened in Britain until after 1927. The BIF war reconstructions might be described as semi-official films in the sense that from Armageddon (which documents the campaign in Palestine) they all received – and in their credits acknowledged – the support of the Army Council or Admiralty. This official co-operation reached its fullest extent in The Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands for which BIF was allowed to film on board the Mediterranean Fleet and at naval bases in Malta and Portsmouth.

Hence the film presents the opening day of 32 A New History of British Documentary the Somme offensive as a military success and makes no reference to the scale of the casualties. These caveats aside, however, there is just as strong a case for Battle of the Somme as marking the origin of documentary film-making – as it came to be understood – rather than the more usual suspects such as Nanook of the North or Drifters. The film’s reception discourse focused on its qualities of realism and authenticity rather than its occasional resort to reconstruction: in fact there is no evidence that contemporary audiences recognized the staged material.

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