There was a significant number and proportion of interwar British films with aristocrats among their major protagonists. The predominance of the romantic drama during the period of ‘silent’ films gave way to comedies and musicals with the coming of sound. With respect to the societal context, although there was a continuation of an overall decline of the wealth and political power of the aristocrat class in society, the class retained considerable social and cultural importance and even greater coverage in popular media. Aristocrat heroes who put their lives in danger were mostly confined to costume films, and it was lower-class females who saved or redeemed the aristocrat male whose courage frequently took the form of his standing up to his family’s opposition to his romance with a lower-class female. Aristocrat villains sometimes signaled the decline or degeneracy of the class, the males by their madness and the females by their immorality. The most positive representations of aristocrats were those who worked, who mixed freely with other classes, and adapted to modernity. The divergent representations of the aristocracy were the work of writers and filmmakers who were predominantly from the middle class.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts