Realism, Fantasy, and the ‘H’ Certificate: Rethinking Horror Cinema in Britain during the 1940s

Frith, Paul (2014) Realism, Fantasy, and the ‘H’ Certificate: Rethinking Horror Cinema in Britain during the 1940s. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Existing research on British cinema during the 1940s has often assumed an opposition between realism and fantasy or, as it is also known, 'realism and tinsel'. However, through an analysis of contemporary critical reception and censorship discourses, it becomes apparent how this division was nowhere near as clearly defined as is often argued. Discussions surrounding a supposed ‘ban’ on horror during 1942-45, and the subsequent debates regarding realism in the post-war climate, demonstrate how realism was often associated with fantasy and vice versa. While the ‘quality’ realist film of the 1940s demonstrates a concern with verisimilitude and the reproduction of the surface appearances of reality, when confronting the obscene or the taboo hidden below this surface realism was deemed to be far more closely associated with ‘horrific’ fantasy.
This thesis therefore looks beyond common perceptions of British cinema during this period through an analysis of contemporary discussions surrounding the relationship between ‘realism and tinsel’, with a particular emphasis upon the misapprehension that the horror ‘ban’ signified a falling interest in fantasy in favour of the ‘quality’ of realism. By also looking at a number of films not often included within such debates, this approach contributes to the discussion of a period largely unacknowledged in terms of horror in British cinema.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film,Television and Media
Depositing User: Vailele Chittock
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2016 12:34
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2016 12:34
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/56894
DOI:

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