Censorship in Theatre and Cinema

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Edinburgh University Press, 2005 - Drama - 195 pages
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The first comparative study of censorship in theatre and cinema during the last century, this book examines notable twentieth-century cases involving the Lord Chamberlain's theatre censorship and the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC). Anthony Aldgate and James C. Robertson have written extensively on the subject of stage and screen censorship, and here they utilise previously unpublished Lord Chamberlain's censorship sources as well as hitherto unexplored BBFC files. They show how the two censorship agencies operated, with some interaction between them, over such controversial matters as sex, foreign affairs, juvenile crime, single-sex relationships, the 'swinging' 1960s, horror, religion and other contentious material. This wide-ranging study concludes by explaining why theatre censorship was abolished in 1968 whereas the BBFC has survived until the present day. Censorship in Theatre and Cinema is a valuable contribution to media history with implications for the practice of censorship in Britai

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A Review by Francesca Saggini, UniversitÓ della Tuscia at Viterbo, Italy
The structure of Censorship in Theatre and Cinema follows this same thematic lay-out pretty closely, spreading out over six
chapters plus a brief introduction (three pages with notes) and conclusion (just over four pages). Each chapter examines how the plot, language and thematic material of a number of plays were significantly toned down and extensively revised before reaching the stage, and then follows the fate of their big screen transpositions, charting the further post-production deletions and amendments these latter were victims of before the award of an appropriate certificate.
Each chapter of the book offers a detailed analysis of various case studies ranked by themes. This structure aims at making this study an easy tool of reference, yet at the same time it forces upon the stage and screen properties it discusses too rigid a grid, which at times ends up somewhat oversimplifying matters... Censorship in Theatre and Cinema is a carefully researched book, addressing a crucial aspect of the cultural and social history of Britain in the last century. It uses to advantage many fascinating and hitherto often unexplored materials such the Lord Chamberlain's plays correspondence files, the BBFC censors files and readers' reports, BBFC pre-production scenarios, as well as Cabinet minutes and Home Office papers. I can strongly advise it to specialists and researchers, yet I do not think it may be a suggested reading for the general readers. The twenty-nine case studies proposed by Aldgate and Robertson provide worthwhile examples of in-depth micro-analyses, yet the authors do not always manage to successfully bring to light the larger picture -- often reserving the briefest of nods to the larger historical and cultural issues the plays and the films they were adapted into needs be anchored in.
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About the author (2005)

Anthony Aldgate is Reader in Film and History at the Open University James C. Robertson is at the Sunday Herald

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