The cinema and the public: a critical analysis of the origin, constitution, and control of the British Film Institute (1934)

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3. Moreover, to those many (of whom I was one) who were not themselves educationalists, who ap- proached the cinema not from the educational but from the moral, artistic, intellectual or purely entertainment* angle, the report and the particular form of Institute idea to which it gave expression, appeared, as time went on, more and more lopsided towards the purely educational (and, in fact, mainly class-room) side ; of less and less value, if not of actual danger, to those wider aspects of cinemato- graphy in which they themselves—and, they were convinced, the public at large—were principally interested. A group of educationalists such as made up the Commission might well, they felt, con- sider ways in which the cinema might be more or better used in schools or at adult lectures ; and, if they thought it desirable, recommend the setting up of a small institute for these specifically (and largely domestic) educational aims—so long as they did not expect to use public money for the purpose. But such a limited group was, they could not but feel, scarcely competent to establish a great National Film Institute, a kind of " cinema B.B.C.," with vast powers over the whole cinema world—even on the doubtful assumption that any such all-embracing body were desirable. 4. Further, even in the educational and scientific world, doubts soon began to arise regarding the Commission's status and the extent of the support behind it. Was it really the widely representative body it was thought to be ? To what extent (apart, possibly, from an initial gesture of sympathy with * The word " entertainment" it should be noted, is not only specifically mentioned in the clause of the Act setting up the Cine- matograph Fund, but given precedence over " instruction." Com- pared with the influence of the constant flow of long entertainment or " feature " films, that of the occasional educational film is, of course—as Parliament fully realised—negligible. Page 15