The number of people living under British colonial rule in the two decades after 1945 shrank from 700 million to 5 million, amid the fractious and blood-soaked decomposition of the largest and most ambitious imperial venture in human history. What roles did film play across the period 1939–65, in the face of rapidly changing geopolitics? What were the varied ways in which film registered and projected colonial and neocolonial discourse and practice? What do these films now reveal about the fantasies and realities of colonial rule and its ostensible dissolution? Film and the End of Empire brings together leading international scholars to address these questions.
Contributors examine the enmeshing of cultural representation and political and economic control, and demonstrate the ways in which state and non-state actors harnessed film to instructional and pedagogical functions, putting media to work in order to shape the attitudes and conduct of populations to sustain colonial and neocolonial governmental order. They focus on a wide range of material, including newsreels; state-produced documentaries; corporate-financed non-fiction films; and narrative fiction films telling stories about the past and present of imperialist endeavour. At the same time, they address the institutions that were formed to foster colonial film, and develop new non-theatrical forms of global distribution and exhibition. Film and the End of Empire opens up a fascinating new area of film history and will be indispensable reading for those interested in global cinema history, didactic and non-theatrical cinema, film and geopolitics, and those interested in Britain's colonial history and its continuing legacy. This book was produced in conjunction with a major new website housing freely available materials and films relating to British colonial cinema, www.colonialfilm.org.uk, and a companion volume entitled Empire and Film.