Review: The Appreciation of Film: The Postwar Film Society Movement and Film Culture in Britain

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Book Review

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Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television





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MacDonald uses a sentence by film critic Paul Rotha to describe the importance of film societies and their role in promoting the appreciation of – ‘Film societies owe their existence to groups of men and women who translate the unspoken need for study and discussion of the culture of cinema into practical action’ (cited on 2). Unfortunately, as MacDonald writes, the importance of these amateur activities and enthusiasm has not been paid attention to or featured in the history of film culture in Britain. Therefore, MacDonald’s book ‘aims to recover a sense of the organisational vigour and pioneering role of the film societies in organised film study activity, critical writing and debate about film and the development of distinctive traditions of film programming’ (2). More importantly, MacDonald’s historical research provides an alternative acknowledgement of these forgotten civic activities, and their contributions towards the intellectual and political engagements with the cinema that are normally absent in films studies. In a chronological order, each chapter not only highlights the significant events during a specific period of time that enriched the culture of film on a civic level, MacDonald also critically assesses these events, movements and their impact on building the history of cinema culture in Britain.



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