Remapping Early British Cinema
«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)
Chapter 2: Connecting Places: Film, Transport and Display
← 84 | 85 → CHAPTER 2
Connecting Places: Film, Transport and Display
In which we visit one of the most extraordinary buildings of the nineteenth century and encounter the most exotic examples of the animal kingdom in the heart of London.
Between the beginning of the nineteenth century and the Great War the expansion of direct colonial dominion influenced the geographical imagination of the British. Colonial exhibitions and world fairs displayed peoples, animals, places, cultures and products which were underpinned by the technological modernity offered by new constructional, industrial, communication and transport technologies. An article published in 1862 in the Illustrated Weekly News proclaimed “this is the age of exhibitions.”1 Exhibitions were also destined to become a favourite subject of early actuality films of the city. As a product of the forces of Victorian capitalism, early films contributed to urban cultures of display which, as Antoinette Burton argues, led to a re-configuration of metropolitan culture enforced by commodity capitalism for the display of colonial subjects and things at world exhibitions.2
Films of London exemplify forms of literal and figurative movement in, to and from the city. The first part of this chapter investigates the relationship between early films of London and exhibitions, including newly-built museums, the Crystal Palace and the London Zoo. In particular, I discuss ← 85 | 86 → the exhibition of exotic or colonial subjects and objects and the display of technological novelties. In a discussion on the role of cartography in forging...
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