Review by Choice Review
Like any good British movie of the 1940s, this book unrolls in a distanced, recitative mode not unlike a doctoral thesis. At first, it seems bent on becoming historiography. Chapman (Open Univ., UK) sets forth the traits of three schools of historiography: a Whig, realist school; its historical and empiricist successor (centered in the editors and contributors to the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television); and, finally, a Marxist school, fleshed out with dollops of linguistic and anthropological theory. But rather than embarking into new theory, Chapman settles into the fact-driven, socially grounded cinema history of the empiricists, for whom the social and political circumstances of production matter more than theory in analyzing the making, reception, and meaning of films. For the reader this promises (and delivers) a book filled with the anecdotal accounts of personal conflicts, intrigues, and alliances that leavened old-fashioned empirical history. Accompanying the text are two signatures of evocative stills, a general and a film index, a densely packed bibliography, and useful footnotes. One sort of reader may wish for a more densely woven theoretical fabric, whereas another may want a more detailed account of the movies. This volume will find its audience among graduate students, faculty, and professionals. T. Cripps; formerly, Morgan State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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