Taming the cowboy: Early Danish film theory, 1910-1940

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    The article describes the development of early Danish film criticism and film theory from the nascent critical debates around 1910 until the substantial film-theoretical publications in the late thirties. During the 1910s, the first debates took place, predominantly in popular journals and newspapers, whereas in the 1920s, the first book-length approaches to film appeared, and the initial advances of the state towards film were made. Finally, acknowledging a diminished Danish film industry, the discourse around film during the 1930s changes from a popular and industrial coverage to a noteworthy defense of the artistic values of film. This article demonstrates how the slow theoretical development of the discourse film as art connects with a diminishing film industry and a progression towards a European small-state subsidy system for film production. In the process of recognition of film, another noteworthy discourse made a significant impact: film as education paved the way for the taming of a wild and unrestrained medium. These two discourses facilitated film in order to single out as an independent medium differentiated from especially theatre and literature. The main discourse film as entertainment is, then, slowly supplemented by two competing discourses in close connection to a general national discourse.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)156-174
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


    • Film theory
    • Danish film industry
    • small-state subsidy system
    • film criticism


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