"For Ladies Only? Eve's Film Review: Pathe Cinemagazine 1921-33"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 4th May 2009This book was written by my friend Jenny and is based on her master's dissertation. As the title suggests, it looks at a 'cinemagazine' called "Eve's Film Review" that was produced by Pathe around the 1920's, which was principally (but not exclusively) aimed at the female cinema audience.
The 'cinemamagazine' format is a bit like today's 'magazine' format TV show, in that it consists of a number of self-contained items which are only loosely linked thematically in that they are intended to be of interest to their target demographic, to entertain and inform.
I remember seeing some of the Eve's Film Review items when Jenny was working on her degree and afterwards the lasting impression I'd had until reading this book was how comical and slightly patronising many of them appeared to be to modern eyes. However in the book Jenny tries to place the items in their contemporary social and cultural context, helping the reader to imagine how the audience (both male and female) might have viewed the films. Seen through this lens many of the items can seem almost subversive, challenging as much as reinforcing women's images of themselves and their place in society. Jenny does a great job of describing a world where the cinema was a key source both of entertainment and information for people generally, in which this images would have been extremely potent. Aside from this, there is evidence of innovative cinematography in the films, which were not bound by either narrative requirements or censorship. Some of the less conventional items look surprising modern.
Often with this kind of study, the problem is that the source material cannot be directly accessed by the reader. However in this case Pathe has made an effort to provide a number of the films and made them available for download on the web (see http://www.britishpathe.com/product_display.php?Search.x=0&Search.y=0&searchword=eves+film+review for a selection). Together with the book it's an interesting insight into the world of the 1920s and 30s which for me at least also challenges my stereotypical view of those times.