Dr. Colin Perry’s professional output

‘Platforms of history: Brecht and the public uses of radical history in 1970s independent cinema’

– Published 1st Jun 17


In the UK during the 1970s, the question of history, in its representation and in the political implications of its practice, became one of the key debates for those on the left, bringing radical filmmakers and historians into dialogue and disagreement.

There were two main, significant strands of influence. Bertolt Brecht is the emblematic figure for uses of history for the present; film theorists and filmmakers turned to Brecht’s writing, mining his work for lessons on relations between film form and spectatorial agency.

At the same time, important new developments in leftist historical writing and practice (including the ‘people’s history’ movement, the social histories of the New Left and the historiographical work of the women’s liberation movement had a direct influence on a number of filmmakers.

While these latter currents shared Brecht’s political motive in using history for the present, they were frequently at loggerheads with one another. By revisiting these clashes and confluences, I argue in this chapter that a rich oppositional discursive field may be constituted precisely through its unevenness and diversity.

Any consideration of the uses of history within the present, I argue, needs to account for the heterogeneity, complexity and shared energies of oppositional public discourse.

Publication details

Publication status Published
Publication title Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and Experimental Film in the 1970s
Publishers name IB Tauris
ISBN 1784537195