Scotland, heritage and devolving British cinema



Neely S (2005) Scotland, heritage and devolving British cinema. Screen, 46 (2), pp. 241-246.

First paragraph: In his introduction to the groundbreaking 1986 edited collection All Our Yesterdays: Ninety Years of British Cinema, Charles Barr used the term 'heritage' in relation to a body of films from the 1940s. For Barr, this particular category stemmed from a long-held tradition of British cinema's reliance on the literary in order to 'exploit ... heritage in seeking out prestige material with export potential'. A few years later, in an edited collection on Thatcherism and cinema in Britain, Andrew Higson adopted Barr's term as a foundation on which to formulate a bona fide genre. Since then, the term 'heritage cinema' has gained a certain currency within both circles of criticism and production in Britain. Higson's initial definition of heritage cinema was informed by developments in the wider heritage industry of the 1980s, characterized by a commodification of the past within which the National Trust's promotion of stately homes could be linked to the aesthetic strategies and pleasures offered by films such as Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981), Another Country (Marek Kanievska, 1984), A Room With a View (James Ivory, 1986) and A Handful of Dust (Charles Sturridge, 1987). Underscoring Higson's analysis of heritage cinema was a general criticism of its exclusive representation of a privileged group within British society, a nostalgic past that contrasted starkly with a contemporary Britain marked by high unemployment and social division.

Screen: Volume 46, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2005
PublisherOxford University Press