Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain

Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain - Matthew Jones

Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain

For the last sixty years discussion of 1950s science fiction cinema has been dominated by claims that the genre reflected US paranoia about Soviet brainwashing and the nuclear bomb. However, classic films, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and It Came from Outer Space (1953), and less familiar productions, such as It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), were regularly exported to countries across the world. The histories of their encounters with foreign audiences have not yet been told. Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain begins this task by recounting the story of 1950s British cinema-goers and the aliens and monsters they watched on the silver screen. Drawing on extensive archival research, Matthew Jones makes an exciting and important intervention by locating American science fiction films alongside their domestic counterparts in their British contexts of release and reception. He offers a radical reassessment of the genre, demonstrating for the first time that in Britain, which was a significant market for and producer of science fiction, these films gave voice to different fears than they did in America. While Americans experienced an economic boom, low immigration and the conferring of statehood on Alaska and Hawaii, Britons worried about economic uncertainty, mass immigration and the dissolution of the Empire. Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain uses these and other differences between the British and American experiences of the 1950s to tell a new history of the decade's science fiction cinema, exploring for the first time the ways in which the genre came to mean something unique to Britons.
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For the last sixty years discussion of 1950s science fiction cinema has been dominated by claims that the genre reflected US paranoia about Soviet brainwashing and the nuclear bomb. However, classic films, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and It Came from Outer Space (1953), and less familiar productions, such as It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), were regularly exported to countries across the world. The histories of their encounters with foreign audiences have not yet been told. Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain begins this task by recounting the story of 1950s British cinema-goers and the aliens and monsters they watched on the silver screen. Drawing on extensive archival research, Matthew Jones makes an exciting and important intervention by locating American science fiction films alongside their domestic counterparts in their British contexts of release and reception. He offers a radical reassessment of the genre, demonstrating for the first time that in Britain, which was a significant market for and producer of science fiction, these films gave voice to different fears than they did in America. While Americans experienced an economic boom, low immigration and the conferring of statehood on Alaska and Hawaii, Britons worried about economic uncertainty, mass immigration and the dissolution of the Empire. Science Fiction Cinema and 1950s Britain uses these and other differences between the British and American experiences of the 1950s to tell a new history of the decade's science fiction cinema, exploring for the first time the ways in which the genre came to mean something unique to Britons.
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