Contemplating imperialism: early film reenactments of the South African War
Early Popular Visual Culture
Early Cinema, Imperialism, South African War, Reenactment, Modernity
This essay examines the differences between American and British modernity around the turn of the twentieth century. The author argues that American modernity tended to paradoxically embrace what was considered premodern, while British modernity sought to more clearly dichotomize what was perceived as rural primitivity and civil British modernity. To elucidate these ideological differences, theories of modernity and antimodernity are addressed in tandem with close textual analyses of early film reenactments of the South African War (1899–1902). While British film reenactments of the South African War tended to reify British imperialism, American films were often ideologically ambivalent, thus providing more of an opportunity for American exhibitors and audiences to contemplate and discern British imperialism for themselves. This study also explores theoretical questions related to reenactment and simulated reality, specifically how British filmmakers, unlike American filmmakers, constructed a clear distinction between civility and primitivity as real.
Bordino, A. W. (2022). Contemplating imperialism: early film reenactments of the South African War. Early Popular Visual Culture https://doi.org/10.1080/17460654.2022.2157301