Show Less
Restricted access

Of Empire and the City

Remapping Early British Cinema


Maurizio Cinquegrani

This book explores the cinematic representation of the city in British film from 1895 to 1914, featuring depictions of London, Glasgow, Dublin, Delhi and other British colonial cities. The author argues that the films are not only an invaluable record of the economic, social and cultural life of these cities but also that the spatial organization of these urban areas, and the cinematic representations of them, were shaped by the ideology and activity of imperialism. The pioneer camera operators who made these early films often put forward an imperialist ideology by paying particular attention to the cinematic representation of monumental and ceremonial spaces, modern communication and transport within the city and between the city and the empire. Of Empire and the City establishes connections between these cities and their cinematic representation by means of continuous motifs and themes, including modernity, Orientalism, spectatorship and the imperial subject. The book makes a unique contribution to studies of early film, British urban history and the history of the British Empire.
«This is a highly original and genuinely groundbreaking piece of scholarship on early British cinema. Very little work on this subject to date has sought to contextualise films of the 1890s and 1900s within the broader field of the history of imperialism. Cinquegrani's book systematically corrects this ‘blind spot’, and in its use of a wide range of ideas and methodologies […] it offers a compelling new model for future scholarship on British cinema of the silent era.» (Dr Jon Burrows, Associate Professor, Department of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick)
Show Summary Details
Restricted access



I would like to thank the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for supporting my research with a Doctoral Award. My supervisors, David Green and Mark Shiel, have given me enormous help during my research. Thanks.

I should also thank Palgrave Macmillan, Tate Britain, the University of Edinburgh Press, and Taylor & Francis for the permission to include here sections of the articles and book chapters I have authored for these publishers. Portions of Chapter 1 have been published previously as “Empire and the City: Early Films of London” (The Camden Town Group in Context, eds Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy, London: Tate Britain, 2012) and “The Nexus of the Empire: Early Actuality Films of London at the Turn of the Twentieth Century” (Journal of British Cinema and Television, vol. 6, no. 1, 2009, pp. 207–219). Sections of Chapter 2 have been published previously as “The Cinematic Production of Iconic Spaces in Early Films of London” (The City and the Moving Image: Urban Projections, eds Richard Koeck and Les Roberts, Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 169–182). Portions of Chapter 6 have been published previously as “Travel Cinematography and the Indian City: Imperial Spectacle at the End of the Long Nineteenth Century” (Nineteenth-Century Contexts: an Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, 2010, pp. 65–78). Parts of Chapter 8 have been published previously as “‘A fit of absence of mind’?: Empire and Urban Life in Early Non-Fiction Films” (Early Popular Visual Culture, vol....

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.