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The Big Show looks at the role played by cinema in British cultural life during World War One.
In writing the definitive account of film exhibition and reception in Britain in the years 1914 to 1918, Michael Hammond shows how the British film industry and British audiences responded to the traumatic effects of the Great War.
The author contends that the War’s significant effect was to expedite the cultural acceptance of cinema into the fabric of British social life. As a result, by 1918, cinema had emerged as the predominant leisure form in British social life. Through a consideration of the films, the audience, the industry and the various regulating and censoring bodies, the book explores the impact of the war on the newly established cinema culture. It also studies the contribution of the new medium to the public’s perception of the war
Part I Local Tracks: Exhibition Culture
Chapter 1: The Local Entertainment Scene
Chapter 2: The Crisis of Total War and New Audiences
Part II The Front at Home: Cinema and the Homefront Imagination
Chapter 5: Anonymity and Recognition: The Roll of Honour Films 1914-1917
Chapter 6: Education or Entertainment?: Public and Private Interpretations of Battle of the Somme (1916)
Part III. Artful and Instructive: Respectability and the 'Superfilms'
Chapter 7: "A Soul Stirring Appeal to Every Briton": The Reception of The Birth of a Nation (1915-16)
Chapter 8: "A Spectacle That Thrills and Appalls": Thomas Ince's Civilization
Part IV: Chaplin and the Transformative Properties of Comedy
Chapter 9: Chaplin: "A Transatlantic Vernacular"
Chapter 10: "Imagine Charlie At the Front" Shoulder Arms (1918)