From the advent of the 'talkies' in the 1930s to the emergence of the 'New Wave' in the late 1960s, British cinema has been home to some of the most influential movements in film history. The 1970s and 1980s saw a continuation of these pioneering trends and an emergence of new styles, themes and techniques. From the gritty realism of social realist films to the bright and colorful aesthetics of the popular British films of this period, this article will take an in-depth look at some of the most important British film movements of the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1970s and 1980s, British cinema experienced a period of great creativity and innovation. This era saw the rise of several influential film movements, which have had a lasting impact on modern films.
The Free Cinema movement was the first of these movements, emerging in the mid-1950s as a reaction against traditional Hollywood films. Led by filmmakers such as Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson, Free Cinema sought to create films that would be more realistic and engaging, often drawing upon themes related to working-class life. Key films from this era include Anderson’s 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' (1960) and Richardson’s 'The Knack...and How to Get It' (1965).The British New Wave was another important film movement of the 1970s and 1980s. This movement was largely inspired by the French New Wave, which sought to create more experimental and personal films.
British New Wave filmmakers such as Alan Clarke and Derek Jarman sought to explore similar themes, often using a documentary-style approach to create more realistic films. Key films from this era include Clarke’s 'Scum' (1979) and Jarman’s 'Caravaggio' (1986).The London Film-makers Co-op was another influential film movement of the era. This collective was founded in 1968 with the aim of creating more experimental films. The Co-op’s members included filmmakers such as Peter Gidal, Malcolm Le Grice, and Lis Rhodes, who sought to create films that explored ideas related to semiotics and structuralism.
Key films from this era include Gidal’s 'Shadowplay' (1969) and Rhodes’ 'Light Reading' (1978).These film movements have had a lasting impact on modern films. For instance, the documentary-style approach of the British New Wave can be seen in contemporary films such as 'Rivers and Tides' (2001), while the experimental techniques of the London Film-makers Co-op can be seen in films such as 'Inception' (2010). In addition, many of these movements explored themes related to class and gender that are still relevant today. Since the 1970s and 1980s, British cinema has continued to evolve. However, these film movements have made an indelible contribution to modern cinema in terms of aesthetic, techniques, and themes.
As such, they remain an important part of the history of British cinema.
The British New WaveThe British New Wave was a film movement in the United Kingdom that aimed to create a more personal, idiosyncratic style of filmmaking that explored social issues. The movement began in the late 1950s and continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s, influencing many modern films. Notable British New Wave films include 'A Taste of Honey' (1961), directed by Tony Richardson, which tells the story of a young woman's struggle to find her place in society. Another important film from this era is 'Look Back in Anger' (1959) by John Osborne, which follows a young man's struggle against the social norms of 1950s England. Both films were critically acclaimed and remain influential to this day.
The Free Cinema MovementThe Free Cinema Movement was an attempt by a group of British filmmakers to challenge mainstream filmmaking by creating more realistic films that explored everyday life.
The filmmakers involved in the movement, which was active between 1956 and 1959, sought to create films that were not only entertaining, but also had a social purpose. They sought to explore the reality of British life and to challenge the traditional conventions of storytelling. Notable examples of Free Cinema films include 'We Are the Lambeth Boys' (1959), a documentary about a group of young men from South London, and 'Every Day Except Christmas' (1957), a documentary about life in a Covent Garden market. These films explored topics such as poverty, racism, and gender inequality, and were noted for their use of non-professional actors and non-traditional narrative structures.
The Free Cinema movement had a lasting impact on British cinema. Its influence can be seen in later films such as 'Trainspotting' (1996) and 'Billy Elliott' (2000), which both explore the lives of working-class characters in gritty, realistic detail. The influence of the movement can also be seen in the work of directors such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, who both explore themes of social realism in their films.
The London Film-makers Co-opThe London Film-makers Co-op (LFMC) was an experimental filmmaking collective founded in 1972. The group was committed to creating independent, avant-garde films that pushed the boundaries of traditional cinematic form. LFMC attracted a range of filmmakers, from established professionals to enthusiastic amateurs, who shared a commitment to exploring new techniques and styles. The LFMC’s films were marked by their innovative approach to film production.
They often used unusual camera angles and perspectives, and experimented with sound design and editing. The collective also worked to challenge mainstream ideas about what constituted a ‘proper’ film. Many LFMC films were non-narrative, relying on atmosphere, imagery and music to create an emotional impact. Two of the LFMC’s most acclaimed films are Rivers and Tides (2001) and Tales of the Unexpected (1979). Rivers and Tides is a documentary about the Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy, whose work is created with natural materials such as rocks, leaves and water.
The film captures Goldsworthy’s creative process in a poetic, dreamlike fashion. Tales of the Unexpected is a surrealist drama in which a woman discovers her husband has been replaced by a doppelganger. The film’s nightmarish atmosphere and unsettling visuals make it an unforgettable viewing experience. The LFMC has had a lasting influence on British cinema, and its films continue to inspire filmmakers today. The collective’s commitment to innovation and experimentation has helped to shape modern films, making it an important part of British film history. In conclusion, the 1970s and 1980s saw a period of great creativity and innovation in British cinema, resulting in the rise of several influential film movements.
The Free Cinema Movement, the British New Wave, and the London Film-makers Co-op were some of the most important movements during this time. Their influence can be seen in a variety of ways, from the independent filmmaking style of the Free Cinema Movement, to the more mainstream success of the British New Wave. These movements have shaped modern British cinema and continue to influence filmmakers today.