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British art cinema, 1975-2000 : context and practice

Hoyle, Brian


Brian Hoyle


Gabriele Griffin

Rowland Wymer


This thesis shall largely concern itself with examining two general aspects of British art cinema between 1975 and 2000; namely, how the British art cinema operates as an art cinema in the context of its 1960s and 1970s European counterparts54 and how the individual filmmaking practices of these British directors both conform to and deviate from classic definitions of art cinema. In this way, this thesis shall demonstrate the ways in which British art cinema can be characterised not only as a belated continuation of classic European art cinema but also a significant development from it. Therefore, it shall examine the work of key British art filmmakers in the context of art cinema history, linking it with earlier movements in European art cinema such as Italian neo-realism and the French Nouvelle Vague, individual forebears such as Resnais, Godard, Pasolini and Wenders, and previous examples of art films in Britain.

Furthermore in examining the filmmaking practices of these leading British art cinema directors this thesis will demonstrate British art cinema's stylistic and thematic eclecticism. Taken as a whole, it engages not only with its European counterpart, but with a wide range of influences including classical Hollywood, pop art, structural cinema and music videos as well as more typically British cinematic traditions such as the documentary and social realism. British art film directors have also experimented with new and existing filmmaking technologies and techniques, and made advances in cinematic style and the treatment of subject matter from their European colleagues of the 1960s and 1970s.

To investigate these claims, the chapters in this thesis shall not address individual films or filmmakers, but rather, to allow a greater breadth of analysis, will examine their individual attitudes towards factors such as realism and film narrative, and their ties with the cinematic avant-garde and Hollywood as well as European art cinema, that can help to contextualise their films in the traditions of both European art cinema and British cinema itself. Chapter One will provide a brief critical overview of art cinema in Britain before 1975, thereby contextualising contemporary British art cinema's place in British film history, and highlighting the changes in the British film industry that made the growth of British art cinema possible. Several key aspects of British art cinema shall then be examined individually to illustrate the way in which these factors have helped to shape and characterise British art cinema. Chapter Two will analyse the attitudes of British art filmmakers towards the modes of cinematic realism that have perhaps come to dominate British film history. Chapter Three addresses the attitudes of British art filmmakers towards narrative, and will examine the degree to which they have rejected the classical Hollywood narrative in favour of modernist, structuralist, and other less traditional methods of cinematic storytelling. Chapter Four will examine the avant-garde roots of several contemporary British art filmmakers and illustrate the ways in which some of the ideas and techniques of avant-garde filmmaking have carried over into their subsequent work in art-house feature films. Finally, Chapter Five will address the influence of both Hollywood and European art-house styles of filmmaking on British art cinema. It shall also demonstrate how these often contradictory influences have helped to mould the latter's distinctive shape, and highlight the disparity amongst British filmmakers between those who look towards Hollywood for inspiration and financial backing and those who choose to operate in the culturally richer but financially poorer European cinema.


Hoyle, B. (2006). British art cinema, 1975-2000 : context and practice. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords English
Public URL
Additional Information Department of English, The University of Hull
Award Date Jul 1, 2006


Thesis (14.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2006 Hoyle, Brian. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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