Film and the Historian

The Production of 'Spanish Civil War' - Part 2: A Film in the Making

Tony Aldgate

Course Assistant, Faculty of Arts, Open University

In his book Films beget Films, Jay Leyda states that the compilation film has one basic defining feature, 'manipulation of actuality', and that 'this manipulation, no matter what its motive – art, propaganda, instruction, advertisement – usually tries to hide itself so that the spectator sees only "reality", that is, the especially arranged reality that suits the film-makers purposes'. He goes on to add that when the cinema newsreels were in operation they went through such a process of manipulation before reaching their audience and 'with wider and deeper purposes the same process is applied to the slag-heaps of past newsreel that is the basic material of the compilation film' The rest of his book continues to chart his interest in both the purpose and the process of manipulation that produced the compilation film as we understand it today.

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