Representations of swinging London in 1960s British cinema : Blowup (1966), Smashing Time (1967), and Performance (1970)
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This thesis explores the representation of Swinging London in three examples of 1960s British cinema: Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966), Smashing Time (Desmond Davis, 1967) and Performance (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, 1970). It suggests that the films chronologically signify the evolution, commodification and dissolution of the Swinging London era. The thesis explores how the concept of Swinging London is both critiqued and perpetuated in each film through the use of visual tropes: the reconstruction of London as a cinematic space; the Pop photographer; the dolly; representations of music performance and fashion; the appropriation of signs and symbols associated with the visual culture of Swinging London. Using fashion, music performance, consumerism and cultural symbolism as visual narratives, each film also explores the construction of youth identity through the representation of manufactured and mediated images. Ultimately, these films reinforce Swinging London as a visual economy that circulates media images as commodities within a system of exchange. With this in view, the signs and symbols that comprise the visual culture of Swinging London are as central and significant to the cultural era as their material reality. While they attempt to destabilize prevailing representations of the era through the reproduction and exchange of such symbols, Blowup, Smashing Time, and Performance nevertheless contribute to the nostalgia for Swinging London in larger cultural memory.