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TitleThe Oxford History of World Cinema
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
ISBN 139780198742425
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size5.9 MB
Total Pages342
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP Oxford University Press is a department of the
University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research,
scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in Oxford New York

Athens Auckland Bangkok Bogota Buenos Aires Calcutta Cape Town Chennai Dar es
Salaam Delhi Florence Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne
Mexico City Mumbai Nairobi Paris Sao Paulo Singapore Taipei Tokyo Toronto Warsaw
and associated companies in Berlin Ibadan

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© Oxford University Press 1996

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First published 1996 First published in paperback 1997

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ISBN 0-19-811257-2 ISBN 0-19-874242-8 (Pbk.)

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I should like to dedicate this book to the memory of my father, who did not live to see it
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Page 341

period, and are instead to be found more often in action films (such as Westerns) than in
the increasingly psychological dramas of the 1930s and after. Links between the two are
to be found in the work of D. W. Griffith, who formalized the means for inserting
melodramatic values into the flow of cinematic narrative and (by his use of the close-up
as both a narrative and an emotive device) gave the conventional melodrama a measure of
psychological depth; and in that of Frank Borzage , who, in Humoresque ( 1920), 7th
Heaven ( 1927), and other films, turned stock figures of melodrama into characters driven
by preternatural inner strength.

The MGM costume department in 1928

More generally, the American cinema in the 1920s had great difficulty in liberating itself
from the narrative schemas of theatrical melodrama and its Griffithian continuation in the
cinema. With the steady increase in the length of films from about 1913 onwards -- from
three or four reels to six or even more in the post-war period -- filmmakers were able to
turn to stories of broader scope and greater complexity, often in the form of adaptations of
novels. Despite the refinement of narrative technique, however, it was rare for this
opportunity to be translated in the direction of realistic and nuanced character
development. Rather (and this is as true if not truer of the bulk of European production as

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