Colour cinema in Scotland, 1896-1906: the materiality of colour and its social contexts in Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh

McBurney, Stephen (2018) Colour cinema in Scotland, 1896-1906: the materiality of colour and its social contexts in Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Over the course of six chapters, this thesis documents colour cinema in Scotland between 1896-1906, focusing on three locations: Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh. Chapter One sets out the scope of the thesis, and defines the terms ‘colour’, ‘cinema’ and ‘place’. An overview of the relevant existing literature is then provided, tracing the evolution of the historiography of Scottish cinema and that of early colour film more widely. This chapter argues that ideologically charged historiographies have largely dismissed or marginalised both Scottish cinema and early colour film; the former deemed irrelevant, and the latter juvenile or crude. Chapter One concludes with a discussion of the historiographic principles upheld in “New Cinema History”, drawing attention to the pertinence of such principles for this thesis’s methodology. Chapter Two profiles prominent colour film technologies and techniques that were in use between 1896-1906, and is split into six sections: coloured lights, tinting, toning, hand-painting, stencilling and Kinemacolor. Chapter Three focuses on early cinema in Aberdeen, in particular Walker & Company, and their experiments with hand- painted films and coloured lights. Walker & Company purchased and hand-painted Up the Nile, the Way to Atbara (1899) to conjure imperialist sentiment; produced and hand- painted The Great Fire of Bridge Place (1899) as a polemic against Aberdeen Council; and experimented with coloured lights on film in spectacular and innovative ways. Chapter Four addresses early cinema in Inverness, focusing on the town’s only filmmaker and exhibitor: John Mackenzie. Mackenzie dismissed painted films because they jarred with his aesthetic principles as a serious photographer. Furthermore, the serpentine dance was locally condemned as immoral, thus rendering the widely popular hand-painted film versions of this routine as a subversive force. Chapter Four concludes with a discussion of Mackenzie’s filmic representations of the Highlands, and how they dramatically changed once he accepted an offer of employment from the Charles Urban Trading Company in 1903. Chapter Five documents early cinema in Edinburgh, highlighting the colourful sensorial environments within which early local film exhibitions took place; the conspicuous presence of stereoscopy and colour photography in early cinema; and the influence of Edinburgh’s rich pantomime traditions on local exhibitors. Chapter Six stresses the importance of this thesis, and its potential ramifications for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: early cinema, historiography, colour, film, Scotland, social history, technology, new cinema history, colour photography, stereoscopy, optical / magic lantern, aniline dyes, Walker & Company, John Mackenzie, Modern Marvel Company, cinematograph.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Funder's Name: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Goode, Dr. Ian and Craven, Dr. Ian
Date of Award: 2018
Embargo Date: 30 October 2021
Depositing User: Dr Stephen McBurney
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30977
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2018 11:12
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2018 10:58

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