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2008 | 62-63 | 6-18

Article title

The Limited Imagination of National Cinema


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The author considers the usefulness of the label of 'national cinema', when in fact it is transnationalism that characterizes contemporary culture. He also analyses various ways in which the term is used. While he does not negate the idea of 'nation', when it refers to socio-political reality, he contrasts the understanding of 'nation' as clearly defined and bounded geographical area belonging to a community that has well grounded, stable, ethnic and cultural identity, and common tradition and system of values, with the 'nation' as defined by Benedict Anderson, as imagined and symbolic community, that is also often dispersed and diasporic in nature, unstable and changing. In this context national identity is only one of many identities that characterize human existence. The author refers to films that are seen as typically British, such as 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', and 'Full Monty', but also to events such as the death of Princess Diana and British soap operas, and argues, that all these events are better described and understood within transnational context, rather than purely as British. He also points to the trend in the history of cinema, for example represented by John Hill, who describes British cinema as particularly engaged in social and political critique. The author in turn argues that social and political criticism represents particular ideological stance, rather than national one. In short, the concept of national cinema is meaningful (to some degree) symbolically and in developing cultural policy of the state, however its usefulness as a descriptive category is limited.





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  • A. Higson, Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia, UK


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