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Hollywood may dominate the world of film as we know it today, but movies were not actually born there. The celluloid film process was patented in London in 1890, and 15 years later, purpose-built cinemas were springing up to showcase minute-long snippets of celluloid, which treated their audiences to news updates and horse racing. Combined with additional sound, these cinematic experiences were the origins of the multi-cinema complexes we know today. However, the entrepreneurial spirit across the Atlantic surpassed our own, and the Americans were the first to set up a film industry with Universal, Paramount, Fox and MGM Studios emerging during and after the First World War. Over time, British talent was snapped up and emerging stars like the lovable Charlie Chaplin and suspense guru Alfred Hitchcock uprooted themselves from UK soil and set sail towards the bright lights of Hollywood.
British film enjoyed its own golden age in the late Twenties and Thirties, interrupted by the Second World War when filmmakers concentrated on perfecting propaganda documentaries and heroic war spell films. Even with Hitchcock in Hollywood, new British talents took his place in the director's chair. Brief Encounter catapulted David Lean into an epic career. Powell and Pressburger followed suit, with hits such as The Red Shoes, while Carol Reed enjoyed similar success with Anglo film noirs such as The Third Man. Film tastes of the Fifties became domestic, with Ealing comedies being succeeded by Hammer horrors and Carry-Ons. Although popular, it was during the Sixties that British films went global. Its New Wave movies challenged audiences with sex and class themes, with Lindsay Anderson, Joseph Losey and Tony Richardson spearheading the movement. However, it was the Sixties' British escapism that stole the hearts of audiences across the globe, which included the Bond films, Doctor Zhivago, Mary Poppins and - last but by no means least - The Sound of Music. A recession and a TV boom left many 1970s cinemas empty. Scandalous (for the time) films were produced, such as The Devils, Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange - which certainly got the neighbours talking. However, the Eighties recession dealt British cinema a blow. After more than half a century span, the Rank Organisation shut down. This was the largest film company in Britain, which provided production, distribution and exhibition facilities and was recognised by many due to its distinctive logo of a Gongman. Fortunately, with increasing international cooperation in moviemaking talent, British films and stars have been enjoying global success and Oscar-recognition since the 1990s, with social comedies Four Wedding and a Funeral and The Full Monty earning box office smash hit status, as well as royal dramas such as The Queen and more recently, The King's Speech. Many critics will agree that we are currently basking in the new Golden Age of British cinema.