I need your help.
Once upon a time the head of a certain UK-based script development training company told me they worked exclusively within the “Anglo-American” rather than the “European” tradition. After hearing that, I got to wondering about this strange distinction between ‘European’ and ‘Anglo-American’ – which derives, I think, from the assumption that the foreign language films typically distributed in the UK are a representative sample of ‘European’ output, not to mention the crass reduction of the diverse nations of the continent into one catch-all category of ‘Europe.’
More recently, however, I’ve been puzzling about the “Anglo-American” bit. Does such a tradition exist? I mean, you can talk of an ‘American’ tradition certainly, but an Anglo-American one. Hmmm.
So, if anyone has sighted this peculiar bird, or can point me to where I get a clear sighting of it myself, please post a comment below.
First, if there is any kind of ‘special relationship’ between British and American filmmaking is it really a ‘tradition,’ with all the reassurance and history and weight that word implies; a tradition which, apparently, excludes Europeans, even though many of the luminaries of pre-war Hollywood, classic Hollywood, were emigres from continental Europe rather than Great Britain? (Billy Wilder, anyone? Fritz Lang?)
I don’t believe we are entitled to claim a special relationship or to insert ourselves into someone else’s tradition. I suspect the notion is more than a little pretentious, or worse, delusional, or even worse, cynical (because the advocates know who’s going to be buttering their bread). But I could be wrong.
Does the relationship go any further than a common language which allows us to entertain the illusion that aspects of American culture our own somehow. Is it anything more than that?
“Two nations divided by a common language.”
<George Bernard Shaw, attr.>
You see, I believe the British are more ‘European’ than they care to admit and, though we like to think of ourselves as the uncles of the colony that, ahem, outgrew us, we have as much, if not more in common with our fellow colonialists on that great continent, the French.
Or perhaps, whether it exists or not, we must bring ourselves to believe in this ‘tradition,’ this myth, if we want to take advantage of the paralysis currently afflicting the Hollywood studios (see the post, ‘Are We Hollywood?‘), or merely if we want to retain a vestige of self-esteem as we play a game using someone else’s rules.