Up Close on Close Up: Publishing Culture and Cinema in Britain 1927-1933
When a new cultural form emerges, critical practices develop in order to absorb it into cultural imagination. Film developed as a cultural product in the early twentieth century and literary commentators such as Q.D. Leavis reviled it, seeing the ascendancy of cinematic entertainment as heralding the decline of culture, dulling the senses of the already senseless masses. However there were intellectuals who emerged and sought to elevate cinema to the level of a legitimate and avant-garde art form; a trio of Swiss based, British critics began writing and producing Close Up, an early film magazine, self-styled as the only publication devoted to films as an art. The rhetorical origins of the new critical discourse they helped to create lie in the modernist literary tradition. However film publishing did not simply emulate the literary field, but developed its own complex hierarchy, informed by, yet autonomous from, existing cultural structures, allowing serious intellectual discussion to filter into mass culture.