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Para competir en suelo igglés.

To compete English soil,

Figure 6.10 Intertitle from the Falklands Olympic advertisement showing hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg training in the Falklands.

Source: Screen capture. ‘UK criticises “tasteless” Falklands Olympic ad’, BBC, 14 May 2012, (Accessed October 2019).

Intertitle from the Falklands Olympic advertisement showing hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg training in the Falklands

Figure 6.11 Intertitle from the Falklands Olympic advertisement showing hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg training in the Falklands.

Source: Screen capture. ‘UK criticises “tasteless” Falklands Olympic ad’, BBC, 14 May 2012, (Accessed October 2019).

and leave them bound by “subjugation, domination and exploitation’” (The Telegraph, 4 June 2012). These two official statements raise several questions. For instance, how can it be possible that the British government as well as a substantial section of the British public can accept images showing indisputable tropes of British national identity as credible threats to British sovereignty? Also, why is there still an ideological and linguistic anchorage in British imperial credos, ranging from Churchillian abrasiveness to crudely embracing a crying-wolf colonized identity? This example of a visual renegotiation of conflicting and equally challenged British multiracial and cross-national identities might become clearer if interpreted as the debris of British imperial visual culture—a culture defined throughout the twentieth century by the competitive market of European imperial powers in which Empire Cinema productions secured through basic advertising poetics and policies a pervasive ‘stimulation’ of the British Empire-consciousness. It is this British Empire-consciousness and identity that is today borrowed, misused, proliferated, and reinterpreted by politicians, small British settlement communities, and by some of the British and American entertainment industries. While the universal language of the film can often be contextualized outside its immediate visual and historic indexicality, the power of the British imperial identity continues to be the signified of Britain’s visual culture and of its former empire, an empire self-justifyingly defined in 2012 by the then British prime minister, David Cameron, as having had ‘some good bits, and [. . .] some less than good bits’.26 Consequently, it seems reasonable to conclude that the advertising of the concept of British Empire, with its central Empire-consciousness and identity, is being continuously recycled, images and all.


  • 1. In the inter-war period the Royal Commonwealth Society 'took on prime responsibility for Imperial Studies’ and by the mid-1930s it also registered high levels of membership subscriptions (MacKenzie 1999, 224).
  • 2. A sub-genre developed within the mainstream of the Empire Cinema was that of British Empire films which were produced in Britain and by British colonies and dominions with British imperial resources (Jaikumar 2002, 2006).
  • 3. David Ciarlo aptly remarks that this advertisement, showing an African man with a wide smile and shiny, perfect white teeth was not meant as a critique of the German peoples’ bellicose imperialisms, but as a mean to sooth their injured colonial zeal by presenting imperial ‘commodity as compensation’ (Ciarlo 2011,311).
  • 4. In 1948 Harold Innis delivered six Belt Lectures on imperial economic history at the University of Oxford. These lectures were published in 1950 under the title Empire and Communication.
  • 5. Professor John MacKenzie delivered the keynote address The Delhi Durbar of 1911 in its Imperial and Cultural Contexts at the Staging Empire. New Perspectives on the 1911 Coronation Durbar and Imperial Assemblage Conference. Manchester Metropolitan University', 15-16 September 2011. The author has kindly offered me a copy of his lecture, which I have cited here on several occasions.
  • 6. See, for instance, the London Colonial and Indian Exhibition in 1886 or the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924-1925, followed by Paris Colonial Exhibition in 1931 and the Brussels Foire Coloniale in 1948.
  • 7. See, for instance, popular productions like Australian Mounted Rifles Marching through Cape Town (camera Edgar Hyman, UK, 22 December 1899), A Sneaky Boer (prod. Mitchell and Kenyon, UK, 1901), Coronation Durbar at Delhi (Animatograph Works, UK, 1903), Queen Elisabeth (starring Sarah Bernhardt; dir. Louis Mercanton, Henry Desfontaines, FR, 1912), or the first adaptation (out of seven to date) of A.E.W. Mason’s novel Four Feathers (J. Searle Dawley, USA, 1915).
  • 8. See, for instance, Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, UK, 1962), Khartoum (Basil Dearden, UK, 1966), The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, UK/ USA, 1975), and Zulu Dawn (Douglas Hickox, USA/South Africa, 1979).
  • 9. See More British than British (dir. Graham Creelman, UK, 1981).
  • 10. See also Stuart Hall (1990), Andrew Hassam (1995), and Priya Jaikumar (2002, 2006).
  • 11. See other works by Jeffrey Richards such as Visions of Yesterday (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973), Patriotism with Profit: British Imperial Cinema in the 1930s (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983), Films and British National Identity: From Dickens to Dad's Army (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), and Imperialism and Music: Britain 1876-1953 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).
  • 12. The 1986 BFI and NFT 'Echoes of Empire’ summer school was promoted as 'considering dominant cinema’s role in helping to explain and rationalise imperialism to both colonisers and colonised. And secondly, by shifting the usual frame of reference in order to show how dominant colonial representations and meanings have been resisted and opposed in ‘other’ cinema, i.e. anti-colonial cinema’ (NFT 1986, 24-28).
  • 13. See Empire News Bulletin (1926-1930) including a colonial compilation, and Universal News (1930-1959), which continued the Bulletin’s agenda.
  • 14. Some of the EMB and GPO main titles include Drifters (dir. John Grierson, 1929), Industrial Britain (dir. Basil Wright, Arthur Elton et al, 1932), Coal Face (dir. Alberto Cavalcanti, 1935), and Night Mail (dir. Harry Watt, Basil Wright, 1936).
  • 15. One reason for this omission might have been that writing about the Empire in socially critical terms could have made it more difficult for Grierson to work as a government employee (Stollery 2000).
  • 16. Basil Wright’s dismissive approach of the EMB might explain the absence of any socio-political criticism in his Cargo from Jamaica (1933), Windmill in Barbados (1933), and Song of Ceylon (1934)—these being some of the most significant documentary films about British Empire’s colonial products and their indisputable importance to British markets.
  • 17. Amy Sargeant indicates that the training and creative interests of several artists employed by the EMB and the General Post Office (GPO) influenced the aesthetics of the films commissioned by these governmental institutions; it made most EMB and GPO films resemble and even emulate visual codes and representative patterns common to advertising films (Sargeant 2011, 2012)
  • 18. As mentioned in a previous section of this volume, this is the case with One Family (advertising the British Empire as ‘one family’, dir. Walter Creighton, EMB, 1930), Story of Bournville (advertising Cadbury’s work, Cadbury, 1932), Cocoa from the Gold Coast (production and distribution of cocoa beans across the British Empire, Cadbury Brothers Ltd., 1936), Tins for India (manufacture of kerosene tins, Burmah-Shell Production, 1941), Chisoko the African (copper belt industry in Northern Rhodesia, Gaumont British Instructional, 1949), Two Friends (Stork margarine, Films of Africa, 1950) and Mary’s Lucky Day (Lux toilet soap intended for African markets, Films of Africa, 1952).
  • 19. This is the case with instructional, promotional, amateur, and missionary films such as Fairbridge: Empire Settlement through Child Colonization (Topical Film Company, 1931), Gold Processing on the Gold Coast (dir. Walter H. Beasley, 1930s), and the St. Joseph Missionary Society in India and Africa films (mid-1920s).
  • 20. See the Ceylon Lipton tea advertisements discussed earlier.
  • 21. Of note, this Benson & Hedges ‘Wild & Free’ advertisement was available online in 2014 on Google search. However, a few years later the image was not available online anymore on any of the search engines.
  • 22. Priya Jaikumar argues that there was a strong, defining, and interlocking relationship between colonial cinema and cartography since both were ‘linked to the visual truths of imperial geography’—that of ‘perspectival prescriptions of Britain’s position in relation to the world’ (Jaikumar 2001,171). This thesis is confirmed, for instance, by an advertisement to Bovril (the brand’s name is written in bold over a map of South Africa illustrating Lord Frederick Roberts’ march to Kimberley in 1900; McClintock 1995,227) and by the use of superimposed maps to reflect British imperial cultural and territorial hegemony in films such as Empire Trade (The Conservative and Unionist Film Association, 1934), Wings over the Empire (Strand Film Company, 1939), or The Back of Beyond (Shell Company of Australia, 1954).
  • 23. Another recent example of the pervasiveness of imperial visual tropes is found in Quantum of Solace (dir. Marc Forster, UK/USA, 2008) in a short scene in which, at the end of a motorboat chase, James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) rescues a Bolivian double agent femme fatale before throwing her body into the arms of a Caribbean man working as a hotel employee. One particular detail in this scene aligns its visual tropes to those invoked by Norman Earl’s essay and which are also commonly found in Empire Cinema productions: the allegedly indestructible control of a Western, Caucasian boy scout-like man sporting a disaffected, all-knowing, and superiority-driven demeanour over non-British/Western gender and racialized bodies. Moreover, the scene invites a déjà vu in terms of racial and gender stereotypes by positioning the woman’s semi-Caucasian, attractive, and vulnerable body in the Caribbean man’s arms as if their impromptu intimacy was a B-movie pastiche of King Kong (dir. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, USA, 1933).
  • 24. However, British reporter Mark Sweney even claimed that ‘Zylberberg is shown frowning at a Union flag, before running past Falkland Island landmarks’. An attentive analysis of this seems to propose that there are no details that support such an interpretation.
  • 25. ‘To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil’ (perhaps unwittingly The Guardian translated ‘suelo ingles’ with ‘British soil’), Accessed September 2019. See also ‘UK criticises “tasteless” Falklands Olympic ad’, BBC, Accessed June 2020.
  • 26. David Cameron interviewed on David Letterman Show, watch?v=WcdpMxkyk38&feature=related. Accessed 27 September 2018.
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