Movies and Film: British Film History

British Film History

In Shakespeare's Richard II, the old duke John of Gaunt famously describes England as a "Fortress built by Nature for herself, / Against infection, and the hand of war." It's a nice description of the nation's geography, but it won't work as a comment on the history of British cinema.

In fact, from the very beginning English film has had to deal over and over again with the immense pressures of its cinematically more powerful allies, France and the United States. Though British film has flourished at certain moments and in the hands of certain directors, you can't write the history of English film without accounting for the long history of foreign influence upon every aspect of the industry.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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