‘It was good to get out into the fresh air after seeing this film’: Horror, realism and censorship in post-Second World War Britain

Frith, Paul ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5608-5088 (2017) ‘It was good to get out into the fresh air after seeing this film’: Horror, realism and censorship in post-Second World War Britain. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 14 (1). pp. 98-115. ISSN 1743-4521

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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 that this division was nowhere near as clearly defined as is often argued. 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 darker aspects of reality, realism was deemed to be far more closely associated with the horrific. Following a number of decisions made by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) which were heavily criticised by the local authorities and the press, the Board became increasingly wary of these horrific confrontations with the everyday. The release of The Snake Pit (1948) in the UK sparked a series of debates in the press, with one side questioning the suitability of a film dealing with the particularly sensitive subject matter of mental illness for the purpose of shocking and horrifying audiences, and the other side championing the maturity shown by Hollywood when dealing with an important social issue. This article therefore looks beyond traditional perceptions of 1940s British cinema in order to demonstrate a shift in the role played by both realism and horror in the post-war period.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: censorship,horror,british cinema,realism,sdg 3 - good health and well-being ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/good_health_and_well_being
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Film, Television and Media
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2019 09:29
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2023 00:33
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72918
DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2017.0354

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