Sunday, February 13, 2005

Shepperton Babylon: New book revisits British cinema

Whatever happened to Shepperton? For decades after the First World War, British cinema was churning out dramas, cheap comedies and literary adaptations. As Matthew Sweet points out in "Shepperton Babylon", many of the films might have been cheap and nasty, but without them there would be no "Great Expectations", David Lean or Alec Guinness. His book is an attempt to put a spotlight back on these forgotten years.

Yet for all intents and purposes, the films have vanished from the public eye. As Christopher Fowler writes in The Independent on Sunday, "how can we hope to know what went on behind the scenes when we can't see the scenes themselves"? Or more painfully, "the story of British cinema is one of shameful neglect". So what happened to Shepperton? Where is its legacy? Certainly not in the recent Bafta awards, where British films were conspicuous by their absence. Is the British movie tradition already lost? What can we hope for the future? Your thoughts are welcome.

Shepperton Babylon: The Lost Worlds of...

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