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European cinema

Parent category: European culture - cinema

I pity the French [European] Cinema because it has no money. I pity the American Cinema because it has no ideas. --Jean-Luc Godard

By region: British cinema - French cinema - German cinema - Italian cinema - Russian cinema

Genres: French nouvelle vague Russian kino pravda - French cinéma vérité - German expressionism - Italian neorealism - Eurotica - Euro chic - European horror - Euro 'trash'

Caroline Ducey in
Romance X (1999) - Catherine Breillat [Amazon.com]

Paris, Texas (1984) - Wim Wenders


European cinema is the cinema of Europe. In the United States European cinema enjoys the reputation of being more liberal when it comes to the representation of nudity and sexuality. In the US, European cinema, like world cinema, is often shown in art house theatres.

Some notable European film movements include German Expressionism, Italian neorealism and French New Wave.

The cinema of Europe has its own awards, the European Movie Awards. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_cinema [Nov 2005]

Public funding of European cinema

Contrary to American cinema, European cinema has traditionally been state funded. That the profibality of European cinema has been lacking is shown by a 2002 report by the European Audiovisual Observatory. It states that "public funding to the film and audiovisual sector in Europe showed an annual average growth rate of 10% for the period 1997 - 2001" but the "European film industry's performance showed strong decline" and "that video publishers and distributors were the only branch of the sector to maintain positive profit margins".

The state funding of the cinema explains the high level of art films in European film history. Advisory boards that financed films often favoured film with "high art" aspirations.

Some have criticized public funding of cinema saying that only a small minority of these films make a profit. On the other hand, American cinema has been accused of protectionism. [Feb 2007]

Is European cinema now part of world cinema ?

The European cinema – that of auteurs, national styles and new waves – has traditionally been identified with a dual cultural legacy: that of the 19th [century] novel and of the 20th century artistic avant-gardes. It helped draw a boundary between the work of the great directors, representing the nation, and domestic star and genre cinema, entertaining the masses, while also helping to set off the ‘Europe’ of film art against the ‘Hollywood’ of commerce.

It is a commonplace to note that these legacies and distinctions have proven increasingly untenable over the past decades. But what has replaced the European art- and auteur-cinema, what has become of independent cinema, and how can we best discuss these changes? Is European cinema now part of world cinema in the age of globalisation? Between the festival circuit and late-night television, is there an audience for European films? Has it become a cinema of cities: Paris, Berlin, London, Warsaw, Madrid, Rome, Marseille? Is it the medium for a multicultural Europe and its migrating Multitudes? A cinema of history, place and memory? Cinema in Europe: Networks in Progress aims to explore the new connections, network and nodal points that have emerged in the wake of boundaries overcome and hierarchies overturned. But every re-drawing of the map delineates new divides and demarcations. --http://www.hum.uva.nl/asca/object.cfm?objectID=74C5BB3F-D1E7-402D-AC41AB9F3173B8DB [Sept 2004]

European popular cinema and European art cinema

Indeed, the tendency of recent German histories to chronicle art cinema and not popular cinema stems from the fact that the German government, like that of most European countries, has tended to support what Dyer and Vincendeau call the "high white traditions" as emblems of national identity as German export culture.(6) Only recently has there been a concerted effort in film criticism to break down this opposition of high European and popular American as film critics have sought a European popular cinema. This book searches for the popular response to Fassbinder's television work, but in West Germany the manufacture of high culture was much more self-conscious than in other European countries and became synonymous with the Autor (the author)-the central discourse of the German state and its cultural arm of public television to legitimize their production of German culture and in particular Fassbinder's work.

The Autor and Cultural Capital
A Fassbinder film can be understood without knowledge of his biography, but such a reading is naive. Biographical reading is a result of how films of the European art cinema were promoted in criticism and in the popular press as the personal statements of their directors in the 1960s and 1970s. These statements have had real and historical 'objective' status in the reception of Fassbinder's films within his own country. Although the Fassbinder myth involved both his filmic form and the changing history of film in West Germany in the 1970s, this book limits itself to examining Fassbinder the historical being in order to understand "the Fassbinder film." -- Television, Tabloids and Tears. Fassbinder and Popular Culture by Jane Shattuc, Minneapolis, 1995 via http://www.haussite.net/haus.0/SCRIPT/txt2000/01/shattuE.HTML [Nov 2005]

This leads us to the development of a popular European cinema. One could argue that the only really European popular cinema is the US cinema (Dyer and Vincendeau, 1992: 11, Ciment, 1997: 146), considering the market shares of US films in European countries (Cinema Yearbook, 1998: 93). What about popular entertainment made for Europeans by Europeans? Is it really a problem of actors, effects and budgets, as has been claimed for decades? According to Nowell Smith (1998: 13), ‘Europe has lost the art of producing trash, for it is trashy films that are the manure of film culture, the source of the modern mythologies through which the cinema speaks to its remaining audience.’ And this is the area in which Europe has most seriously lost out over the last decades: the popular genre production. A popular domestic cinema still exists however: popular comedies featuring television celebrities (as e.g. in Belgium the popular comedies Oesje, the Urbanus cycle) But this phenomenon remains very culture related: there is no circulation in Europe (Cinema Yearbook, 1998: 94). Films aiming for the culturally specific are seen as more foreign than Hollywood to other countries, because European audiences are used to watching great quantities of Hollywood film (Dyer and Vincendeau, 1992: 9). This again illustrates how very little is to be found of a ‘European’ identity reflected in ‘European cinema’. -- Look who’s watching! A brief reflection on European cinema audiences by Philippe Meers via http://www.mediasalles.it/crl_meers.htm [Nov 2005]

Studies of popular cinema most often concentrate on films made within the Hollywood film industry, whilst European cinema is predominantly analyzed through frameworks offered by what is most conveniently labelled art cinema. This rough opposition leaves European films that have been produced within commercial contexts and use the codes and conventions of popular genres critically marginalized. However, to simply classify such works as popular cinema, and as a general polar opposite of the art film, is unproductive and ignores the specific contexts of production and consumption that operate in relation to European popular cinema and the ambitions of those who work in those industries. Through a case study of a number of horror films produced in Spain since the late 1960s, this paper will argue that a breakdown of this simple opposition is needed in order to understand such popular films through a consideration of their textual strategies and the particular production, distribution and exhibition contexts that impact upon their construction. The specificity of the case study will demonstrate that an approach that treats the distinction between arthouse and popular more fluidly allows for a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of each film. --Andy Willis (University of Salford) via http://www.art.man.ac.uk/DRAMA/department/FSP%20Symposium%20Abstracts.pdf

Keith Hennessey BROWN

See also: high culture - low culture - film - European cinema - art film - popular culture -

Encyclopedia of European Cinema (1995) - Ginette Vincendeau

  • Encyclopedia of European Cinema (1995) - Ginette Vincendeau [Amazon.com]
    Produced under the auspices of the British Film Institute and comprised essentially of brief biographies of stars and directors, along with three- to six-page subjective historical essays on 26 national cinemas, EEC offers librarians an inexpensive overview of Continental film. Although there is no discussion of individual films, the genre entries?Italian spaghetti Westerns, Norwegian occupation dramas, etc.?are useful. This work is marred primarily by some entries lacking basic information (e.g., Riefenstahl's post-Nazi career) or simply stopping circa 1993. Readers seeking broad coverage of European cinema should place this alongside Richard Roud's excellent, thought-provoking Cinema: A Critical Dictionary (LJ 5/1/80) and the multivolume International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers (St. James, 1990. 2d ed.). Recommended for all film collections.?Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M University Lib., Tex. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

    Popular European Cinema (1992) - Richard Dyer, Ginette Vincendeau (Editor)

    Popular European Cinema (1992) - Richard Dyer, Ginette Vincendeau (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Book Description
    While popular European cinema is strongly linked with the dominant American version of popular film, it cannot be read simply as Hollywood in foreign dress. The styles, stars, and genres of popular European cinema--Swedish melodrama, Italian horror movies, French musicals--all have their own conventions, superficially similar to Hollywood and yet certainly distinct from it. There has been surprisingly little scholarship done on popular European cinema as both art and social document. Popular European Cinema seeks to fill this gap while illuminating two compelling contemporary issues: the nature of the popular, and the new Europe. Popular European Cinema examines the reasons why films that are most popular with audiences in any one European country are seldom successful elsewhere. Audiences themselves represent diverse class, gender, and ethnic identities that complicate the question of national cinema, not least with recent developments in formerly communist Eastern Europe and post-colonialist Western Europe. Through their individual studies, the contributors open up a new area of study, using the medium of film to focus a wider discussion of popular European culture.

    First Sentence:
    Jean Renoir's Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (The Crime of Monsieur Lange, 1935) always rises into focus as an eloquent image helping us sort out that melange of competing values that defined French culture at the moment of the Popular Front. Read the first page

    Statistically Improbable Phrases (SIPs): (learn more)
    beur films, beur cinema, rural films, ley del deseo, fairground entertainment, adventure formulas, exhibition sector, cinema italiano, popular cinema, dominating discourse, female narrative, spaghetti westerns, historical films

    Capitalized Phrases (CAPs): (learn more)
    British Film Institute, Hallo Caesar, Steve Reeves, North African, Henny Porten, Uuno Turhapuro, Reinhold Schünzel, Soviet Union, Vesa-Matti Loiri, The Private Life of Henry, New Norwegian, Olympic Games, Amédée Lange, Barbara Steele, Ingrid Bergman, Gli Amori, Moulin Rouge, Peter Graham, Second World War, Sergio Leone, Victoria the Great, Radio Luxembourg, Leon Mettler, Sacred Guard, Mary Ann Doane

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