Peculiar pleasure in the ruined Crystal Palace - Tate Research Repository
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Peculiar pleasure in the ruined Crystal Palace



In 1951 the filmmaker and poet James Broughton moved to London from San Francisco. At that time he was beginning to garner a reputation for his short, whimsical, films, which often made use of outmoded costumes and decaying public spaces. One important reason he gave for moving was the idea that Britain had a more open-minded society for queer artists like himself to work within, in contrast to the McCarthy-era USA. With the help of a number of figures from the British film establishment he managed to make a half-hour-long film The Pleasure Garden in London. The film is for the most part set among the ruins of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham and the surrounding park. Broughton’s film is an allegory of Britain as he found it in the summer of 1951, asserting its own vision of a post-war national identity in the Festival of Britain. This chapter examines the way in which the Festival of Britain revived certain ideas of national identity from the past, yet neglected others – and the way in which these ideas were doubled and questioned in Broughton’s film.


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