The Role of the Child in British Film in the Austerity Period

PhD Thesis

Sell, Colin 2008. The Role of the Child in British Film in the Austerity Period. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Arts and Digital Industries
AuthorsSell, Colin
TypePhD Thesis

The purpose of the work is to analyse the ways in which children are featured in British film during the ten years after the Second World War, and to draw conclusions about
attitudes to children. To achieve this, the thesis initially analyses British on-screen children of the war years, but this hegemony is used as a background to the principal focus: the reassessment of the younger post-war generation through a variety of film styles and through the work of a variety of directors after 1945.

Individual chapters explore representations of children in town and country settings, in family and educational groups, and in historical and literary adaptations, principally those of Dickens. The work of directors - including auteur directors - is examined to determine themed child characters or themed modes of child depiction; included in the chapters are deviations from established representative norms. Throughout, the background of post-war austerity is made present by allusions to the exigencies of the time and the effect these had on the nation and, therefore, on its children.

Although British film has drawn more scholarly attention in recent years, the simple occurrence of so many children in a wide range of post-war films deserves examination, and by indicating and analysing the variety of children and their activity the thesis makes an accretion to the growing study of British cinema. The subject of children from 1945-1955 has barely been touched on, yet the period provides a rich source of young actors on screen, performing with greater or lesser success but indicative over all of a re-evaluation of children, which this work attempts to identify and discuss in full.

KeywordsYoung actors; Children in British cinema; British children in post-war film
Publication dates
PrintMar 2008
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Jan 2014
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