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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sleeping with the hegemony : subtitle British cinema and Hollywood in the 1990s Stubbs, Jonathan

Abstract

This thesis deals with British film production in the 1990s and the ways it has adapted to Hollywood's stranglehold on global markets. It is my view that the tendency to connect Britain's volatile industrial production base with the weakness of British cinema generally, a belief shared by film scholars and popular journalists alike, fails to take into account the more complex discourses that British films have come to inhabit. My argument proceeds as follows: In my introduction I outline the terms in which critics have generally discussed British cinema, focusing particularly on the nationalism and pessimism that colours their arguments. Chapter One examines the manner in which cinema in Britain came to be dominated by Hollywood and the way the British film establishment has ultimately acquiesced to its presence. My second chapter looks at the idea of national cinema, which has often been mobilised as a means to counter Hollywood domination, arguing that the concept has little relevance to the way film is produced and consumed in Britain. By analysing the impact of globalisation on film, I argue that British cinema is better defined not in terms of where it is produced but of what it represents. Chapters Three and Four thus examine the two principle discourses governing representations of Britain: the British past and the British actor. The former discourse is strongly connected to the British heritage film aesthetic, which emerged in the 1980s and was subsequently appropriated by Hollywood as a means to invoke a sense of the bygone. The latter discourse centres on the representations of British nrasculinity and femininity produced in the performances of British actors, which are typically constructed in opposition to Hollywood norms. Representations of Britain in 1990s British cinema have thus proved migratory; they have transcended their circumstances of production and been adopted by the international Hollywood system, in the process giving them an enormous global currency. As a result of these changes, and despite the inadequacies of the film industry in Britain, British cinema can therefore be said to be in solid shape.

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