Chapter

The Heritage Film Debate: From Textual Critique to Audience

Claire Monk

in Heritage Film Audiences

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748638246
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651238 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638246.003.0001
The Heritage Film Debate: From Textual Critique to Audience

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This chapter discusses the key arguments around ‘heritage cinema’ in the United Kingdom. It begins by situating the heritage-film critique historically, charting its origins and emergence in relation to the context and mood of late-1980s Thatcherite Britain — origins which raise questions about the critique's continuing applicability to a constantly evolving field of period films and the profoundly changed political, cultural and globalised industrial conditions in which they are produced and circulated in the 1990s and 2000s. The chapter then outlines the central claims, arguments and assumptions which solidified in the early 1990s into what has become the dominant academic critique of heritage cinema. It examines the problems of this critique — with particular reference to the question of film audiences, together with related questions of gender and identity politics — and the criticisms and responses it prompted from a broad range of critics and scholars, generating a body of revisionist critical work on heritage films which has pluralised as well as expanded the field.

Keywords: United Kingdom; heritage films; heritage cinema; period films; film audiences; identity politics; gender

Chapter.  8420 words. 

Subjects: Film

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