Cinema and Modernity in the Middle East

Post-colonial newness and realism

Authored by: Walid El Khachab

The Modernist World

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415845038
eBook ISBN: 9781315778334
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696162


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The historiography of Middle Eastern cinemas differs in at least one key way from its Western cousin. In the Middle East – mainly the Arab World, Iran, Turkey, and Israel – cinema as a practice has always been associated with modernity. The medium is viewed as part of the paradigm of the modern, regardless of the specific content of films. By contrast, in the West – particularly Europe – the fortuna of the labels modern or modernist in cinema is different. The early moving pictures from the nineteenth century in Europe and America were perceived as yet another instance of technological progress echoed in the realms of entertainment and art, and therefore modernist by default (Lipovetsky and Serroy 2007).

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