Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Condon, Denis
Commemorating Irish Cinema of the 1910s
What is Cinema History? A HoMER Network conference
University of Glasgow
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
New cinema history concepts and research methods help to illuminate cinema’s role in Ireland’s revolutionary decade of the 1910s. New cinema history’s orientation away from textual film history, its focus on audiences and its openness to methods originating in such disciplines as geography are particularly useful in examining cinema in a country experiencing rapid social change but peripheral to the centres of film production and distribution. Such a consideration is particularly timely as the years 2012-2021 mark a significant and extended period of public remembrance in Ireland. Officially designated as the Decade of Centenaries (DOC), this period encompasses the centenaries of the significant events that led to the end of British rule in what after 1921 became the Irish Free State, at the expense of partitioning those 32 counties from the 6 northern counties that remained in the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland. However, the role of cinema has been little studied in relation to the DOC, despite the fact that this was also the period in which cinema developed from what initially appeared to be a short-lived entertainment craze into the medium that would dominate the 20th century. Although the few newsreel or topical films of significant events have long been used cinematically and televisually to narrate the history of this period, few attempts have been made to provide even a film history that locates these images in the context of the institution in which they were originally produced, exhibited and consumed. Rarer still are cinema historical analyses that are not focused on films. Despite the fact that the effects of social history have been manifest in the concerted effort to orientate DOC commemoration towards the lives and experiences of ordinary people, very little research has been done on the effects on the Irish population of the increasing ubiquity after 1911 not only of moving pictures but the picture houses at which they were available. This paper will discuss how the tools and techniques of the new cinema history might address these issues.