Film Review: New film studies season explores cinema from fifty years ago

Electra Glide in Blue - Park CircusElectra Glide in Blue - Park Circus
Electra Glide in Blue - Park Circus
Were you alive 50 years ago? If you were, what do you remember of the films you saw? If you weren’t, what do you know about the cinema of 1973? Can you name any key films from that year?

How do they fit into the broader picture of the international film industry at that time? A new Film Studies course led by Dr Sheldon Hall of Sheffield Hallam University will help you find some of the answers.

Starting at Showroom Cinema on Wednesday 11 January, the ‘Fifty Years Ago’ course provides an extended study of the world of cinema in 1973. Exploring four films released in that year, each film will be from a different country. Starting at home with a discussion of the crisis in the British film industry, the first screening will be The National Health starring Lynn Redgrave and Bob Hoskins.

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The following weeks will look at the New American Cinema before visiting Western Europe and points beyond, with a final rare screening of A River Called Titas by Indian filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak.Dr. Hall will examine the films and their relationships to their own national cinemas and to the wider world of international cinema and seek to place them in relation to the social, cultural and political contexts of the time.

But why is it important to look at films from fifty years ago? One of the issues that concerns film historians is the relationship between film production and consumption at a given historical ‘moment’, a particular point in time. Social and cultural forces, political movements and topical issues, technological changes and economic factors all have an impact on the ways in which films are produced, circulated and consumed. They affect not just the types of films that get made but also film production and distribution; not just the aesthetic and technical qualities of specific films, but also audience behaviours.

By looking at the broad sweep of film history over extended periods, we may lose sight of what could be seen and experienced at any one time. Focusing on the array of filmmaking in a single year allows us to explore a historical moment in greater depth and detail. By looking at 1973 as a moment in time, we may also learn in more detail how things have changed over half a century.

Season passes and individual tickets for the Fifty Years Ago screenings and lectures are on sale now.