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British Film and Genre (Horror and Comedy)

Rob Miller | Wednesday December 04, 2013

Categories: A Level, WJEC A Level, WJEC AS, FM2, Section B: British Film Topics, Analysis, Film Analysis, Film Industry, Censorship & Regulation, Copyright & Licensing, Film Distribution, Film Marketing, Film Publicity, Film Promotion, Production Companies, Films & Case Studies, Hollywood Films, 28 Days Later, Non-Hollywood Films, Four Lions, Genres & Case Studies, British Film, Comedy, Horror, Hot Entries, Key Concepts, Audience, Film Language, Representation

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The British Film Industry is successful and thriving but as Jill Nelmes identified in An Introduction to Film Studies can be defined on a number or levels and by a range of “disparate films, genres and movements”. In addition to this there are arguments over what is a British Film and as such, there have been many attempts to define British Film over the years. A useful definition that the BFI proposed in 1996 was that films could be described and culturally and/or institutionally British e.g. commercially successful British Films like the Harry Potter fantasy genre franchise (2001-2011) or Bond action films like Skyfall (2013) are only culturally British because they are distributed by Warner Bros. Independent British historical thrillers like A Field in England (multi platform release July 5th 2013) would be described as culturally and institutionally British as they not only represent British national identity but also are financed (Film 4.0), produced and distributed in the UK.

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There are however, problems with this simplistic definition of what British film is and of course, key exceptions. Historical drama The King’s Speech (2010) was commercially successful without the distribution of a Hollywood studio (it was funded by private equity firm Prescience and was one of the last UK Film Council funded projects). Comedy dramas East is East (1999) and West is West (2010) distributed by Film4 and the BBC respectively both had a reasonable box office while significant problems of definition was faced by the British comedy/social realist/Bollywood hybrid Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – culturally the film represented life in the slums of Mumbai while institutionally its distribution was eventually shared by Hollywood studios Fox Searchlight (the independent arm of 20th Century Fox) and Warner Bros.

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