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Literature, Cinema and Politics 1930-1945Reading Between the Frames$
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Lara Feigel

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748639502

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748639502.001.0001

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Mass Observing: The 1930s Documentary Gaze

Mass Observing: The 1930s Documentary Gaze

(p.63) Chapter 2 Mass Observing: The 1930s Documentary Gaze
Literature, Cinema and Politics 1930-1945

Lara Feigel

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores the multiple and complex viewpoints that were combined in the documentary gaze. It also examines filmic technique, and in particular cross-class montage. In Bronislaw Malinowski's or Storm Jameson's terms, Mass-Observation failed, at least in its early years, to maintain the objectivity found in films like Coal Face. In The Pub and the People John Sommerfield, a working man among the workers, was the Mass-Observing figure in the crowd. The prime example of 1930s cross-class photo montage is Bill Brandt's 1936 The English at Home, which provides a cross-section of English life. Writers, such as Sommerfield, Henry Green, Jameson and James Barke drew fairly explicitly on the cinema in their 1930s cross-class montage. A pronounced example of bodily disjunction in Living occurs within the doubling of the love triangles.

Keywords:   documentary gaze, cross-class montage, Mass-Observation, John Sommerfield, Bronislaw Malinowski, Storm Jameson, Henry Green, James Barke, Bill Brandt

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