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A Mirror for England: British Movies from Austerity to Affluence (BFI Silver) Paperback – 7 Nov 2011


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Book Description

A new edition of Raymond Durgnat's classic study of how the middle-class view of life as expressed in British cinema transformed our understanding of British films and the British national character

About the Author

RAYMOND DURGNAT (1932–2002) was the author of many groundbreaking books about the cinema, among them Films and Feelings (1967), Sexual Alienation in the Cinema (1972), The Strange Case of Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir (both 1974), a study of WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1999) in the BFI Film Classics series, and A Long Hard Look at Psycho (2002), a second edition of which has also published in the BFI Silver series.

KEVIN GOUGH-YATES Film historian. He is considered the authority on European film-makers in Britain and has written extensively about them. His published interviews and retrospectives in the early 1970s were the first to bring the work of the British director Michael Powell to wider critical attention.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Mirror Has Two Faces 6 Aug. 2012
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have kept this book around for twenty-five years and it still baffles me; one senses the tremendous vitality of Durgnat's arguments without being able to really work out what they are, or what they may have seemed to the readers of Films and Filming or Motion or Movie when first they appeared in the 1960s. I suppose it was a book or revisionism on a large scale. People had been putting down English movies forever, and Durgnat with his first-generation English was withering about these people, and saw the critics of English movies as being toadies to American imperialism. You gotta love him, but it's his sentences that are beyond me. I can read paragraph after paragraph and never get the gist of what he's saying, for each participle phrase is like a whippet in heat, and writhes like a live wire, but usually it's about how if we look beyond what he oddly calls the "personal story" of each film--i.e. the main storyline"--to concentrate on the social, economic and or political details on the periphery--that they added up to a subtext as gripping as the personal story itself--repeated images of disfigurement in Michael Powell, abrupt references to redundancy in mid-period Anthony Asquith, and so on. You could go on with this for pages, and the most charming thing is, the movies themselves don't have to be good or bad, they just have to be eccentric. And did he love the stars! -- granting them an auteurshio equal to the most pantheonic directors. But alas, the Mirror to England has tarnished a little and the pages are getting yellow with sere and wither, and I put it away, never to open it again. Instead I go to the source, the films of Michael Crawford, and in particular the sublime pleasures of his TV series Some Mothers Do Have 'Em.

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