British Cinema, Anyone?November 24, 2015

You have seen the works of Terry Gilliam, but not Alexander Mackendrick. You don't have a clue about Mike Leigh, until your housemate reminded you of the Oscars. (And you're annoyed at him. He's the walking encyclopedia on cinema, and both of you might be studying the same module next term.) And "Hamlet" is the only film of Laurence Olivier you're familiar with. You'll study British Cinema, wishing local pictures instead.

The first month is making you nervous. Assessed essay must meet the deadline. You must obtain a pass mark for both pieces of work to pass the module. And essay should be no more than 4,000 words. Perhaps this will be a good opportunity to include the Hollywood films you've seen during the last few years, even if it will be treated as a marginalized genre.

You remain upbeat about the module, though. You want to watch new films, and this will be the right moment. And you're a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock. (The same housemate once said you had the director's semblance. You glared at him.) You have doubts about the inclusion of Guy Ritchie's filmography. (You were reminded of your coursemate in Modern literature, who passionately defended his remake of "Swept Away". Everyone knew she was a Madonna fan.) You wondered what titles you would work on. It will be different from your other modules on cinema. Here are some samples:

The best "romances" are seldom primarily concerned with celebrating romantic love. David Lean's "Brief Encounter" would come to mind. It was Mum's favourite movie, as she swooned at the bittersweet music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. She even swore that she could relate to the poignant affair between an idealistic doctor and a bored housewife. (You became curious, as you wondered if she was referring to Dad.) You fell asleep during your first viewing, and didn't appreciate it on your second viewing. You only figured out the reason during your third viewing. If not for your holiday in London many moons ago. It was a depiction of what English people would do during tempting moments. They stayed polite. And good morals prevailed. (There was no reality television and social media back then.) It was hardly affection.

When a novel is brought to the screen we lose the guidance we need, the guidance the author supplied. You thought a snob would think such a thing. Dead authors won't object to changes in their books, but producers must deal with their rabid fans. You wouldn't care at all. The ticket price to a movie theater isn't cheap. Your cousin in New York insisted cable. (You don't know if there's HBO in your area. You don't even know what TCM means.) But you have a pile of paperbacks on one corner of your room. And they're gathering dust. It's all that matters at the moment.

Is there not a certain incompatibility between the terms "British" and "Cinema"? Francois Truffaut once raised the question. You don't know if this was a thing between the British and the French, which would go back to the Middle Age. It might also be an allusion to the superiority of French Cinema. (You enjoyed their comedies, especially the post-apocalyptic farce about meat eaters ruling the world.) This will be the chance to find out, in case if you'll be asked to write about it. You hope it won't happen, as you don't have a clue.

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