It will be clear that the discipline of film history has come a long way over the last 40 years or so. Since the 1970s the Standard Version of film history as an evolutionary narrative of new technologies and the corresponding formal and aesthetic advances in the medium has been more or less superseded by revisionist histories that instead emphasize the historical specificity of particular periods and different film practices. At the same time the failure of ‘Screen theory’ to provide a totalizing theory of cinema as an ideological apparatus brought about a reconsideration of the historical and empirical approaches that had until then been marginalized. There are now authoritative histories of Hollywood and most (though still not all) European film industries. In particular there has been a proliferation of case studies — histories of the production and reception of specific films, analyses of previously neglected genres and cycles, critical studies of hitherto overlooked film-makers — that has done much to fill the gaps in our historical knowledge and understanding of cinema. However, as Maltby notes, the shift from grand narratives to micro-level histories — what might be termed film history from the ‘bottom up’ — has perhaps eclipsed some of the wider theoretical issues.
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