Armes, Roy 1937- (Roy Philip Armes)

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Armes, Roy 1937- (Roy Philip Armes)


Born March 16, 1937, in Norwich, England; son of Horace Edward and Ellen Armes; married Margaret Anne Johnson, August 10, 1960; children: Caroline, Philip, Helen. Education: University of Bristol, B.A. (with honors), 1959; University of Exeter, teacher's certificate, 1960; University of London, Ph.D., 1978.


Home—London, England.


Writer, educator, film studies scholar. Royal Liberty School, Romford, England, teacher, 1960-69; University of Surrey, Guildford, England, associate lecturer in film, 1969-72; Hornsey College of Art, research fellow, 1969-72, lecturer, 1972-73; Middlesex Polytechnic, Barnet, Hertfordshire, England, senior lecturer, 1973-78, reader in film and television, 1978-92; Middlesex University, London, England, professor of film, 1992-2001, professor emeritus, 2001—. Lecturer at various colleges and universities, including University of Hong Kong, Bayero University, Slade School of Fine Art Film Unit, and National Film School; member of British Film Institute lecture panel, 1969—. Consultant for British Council in Nigeria, 1978. Visiting professor at Television & Motion Pictures University of North Carolina, 1982.


Leverhulme research fellow; Leverhulme Emeritus fellow; grants from the British Academy.


French Cinema since 1946, two volumes, A.S. Barnes (New York, NY), 1966, 2nd edition, 1970.

The Cinema of Alain Resnais, A.S. Barnes (New York, NY), 1968.

French Film, Dutton (New York, NY), 1970.

Patterns of Realism, A.S. Barnes (New York, NY), 1972.

Film and Reality: An Historical Survey, Penguin (New York, NY), 1974.

The Ambiguous Image, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1976.

A Critical History of British Cinema, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978.

The Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet, John Barnes (New York, NY), 1981.

French Cinema, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1984.

Third World Film Making and the West, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1987.

On Video, Routledge (London, England), 1988.

(With Lizbeth Malkmus) Arab and African Film Making, Zed Books (London, England), 1991.

Action and Image: Dramatic Structure in Cinema, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1994.

Dictionary of North African Film Makers, Association des Trois Mondes (Paris, France), 1996.

Omar Gatlato, Flicks Books (Trowbridge, England), 1997.

Postcolonial Images: Studies in North African Film, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2005.

African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2006.

Dictionary of African Filmmakers, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2008.

Author's works have been translated to various languages, including Hebrew, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Arabic. Contributor to books, including Concise History of the Cinema, edited by Peter Cowie, 1971, Encyclopedia of Film, edited by Roger Manvell, 1972, Focus on Shoot the Piano Player, edited by Leo Braudy, 1972, Il Neorealismo e la critica, edited by Lino Micciche, 1974, Fifty Famous Film Makers, edited by Cowie, 1975, Oxford Companion to Film, edited by Liz-Anne Bawden, 1976, Great Film Directors: A Critical Anthology, edited by Braudy and Morris Dickstein, 1978, Makers of Modern Culture, edited by Justin Wintle, Academic American Encyclopedia, edited by Lawrence K. Lustig, Orbis History of Cinema, edited by David Robinson, and A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Thought, edited by John Cumming and Alan Bullock. Contributor of numerous articles to London Magazine, Guardian, International Film Guide, Times Educational Supplement, Kinema, Film, Films and Filming, Screen, Film Reader, and Quarterly Review of Film Studies. London correspondent, Cinema nuovo.


A cinema enthusiast, Roy Armes believes that "the cinema is the most exciting medium for the expression of modernist ideas: creating its own space-time continuum, mixing the real and the fictional, objective narration and subjective viewpoint, and building up a multiple perspective in the manner of cubist painting." Commenting in the New Statesman on Armes's book Patterns of Realism, John Coleman wrote that it was a "very sensible and well-documented book, a model of its kind…. With admirable delicacy and self-control, [Armes] avoids the semantic pyrotechnics latent in any discussion of words like ‘real’ and ‘neo-realism’, … all the time quietly moving towards an examination of the hard stuff itself: the films…. I am grateful for this scholarly and entertaining survey, one of the few film books to achieve the professional level of observation, insight and argument that we take for granted in other disciplines."

Armes, a British writer and film studies scholar, has written a score of books on film and filmmaking, from surveys of the French cinema to examinations of Arab and African cinema. He has also contributed to numerous dictionaries, encyclopedias, and histories of film around the world. In his 2005 book, Postcolonial Images: Studies in North African Film, Armes provides, as Humanities and Social Sciences Online contributor Ranjana Khanna commented, "an extremely useful survey of films from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, as well as films made by filmmakers of the North African diaspora in the ‘postcolonial’ or politically post-Independence period." One of Armes's main arguments in the book is, as Khanna elaborated, the "development of cinema and its deep tie to twentieth-century colonialism and U.S. imperialism." As Khanna further noted, Armes "focuses on what is not included [in North African movies], and therefore what kinds of omissions become particularly striking for the contemporary reader who has knowledge of the forms of coloniality that emerge in those textual omissions." Armes divides his book into a section on the history of film in North Africa, beginning in 1960 and continuing to the current day, and into sections on themes and styles in the cinema of the region. "Armes is at his best when he is doing in-depth readings of films," according to Khanna, who went on to conclude that Postcolonial Images "is a very useful introduction to the cinema of the region and will be a useful handbook and reference for beginners and experts in the field of cinema as well as the region." Further praise came from Research in African Literature critic Denise Brahimi, who felt that Armes's book "succeeds in being at the same time exhaustive, very rich in information, and easy to read."

In African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara, published in 2006, Armes further investigates African filmmaking, expanding his survey now to include sub-Saharan regions. Writing in Humanities and Social Sciences Online, Mahir Saul described this area south of the Sahara: "Fourteen states formed from the giant colonies of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa plus the protectorates of Togo and Cameroon—that is, most of what is referred to as Francophone sub-Saharan Africa." Armes covers the history of filmmaking in both regions, beginning with the work of the Lumiere brothers at the turn of the twentieth century, which was brought to Africa by French colonials and expatriates, and then traces the subsequent history of film in each of the designated countries until the modern day. Armes looks at both traditional and experimental filmmakers throughout the region and ends with a survey of forty filmmakers who have been working since the 1990s. Five of these are women. Saul thought that African Filmmaking "is very much a film studies narrative, with only casual references to production structures or audience reception." Saul concluded: "Not only does Armes canvass enormous territory, succinctly and in elegant prose, but he has also made a judicious selection of directors and films. Most important, he takes an approach that brings together North Africa and Francophone West and Central Africa to draw out insights that might otherwise be blurred." Nancy J. Schmidt, writing in Africa Today, faulted the book for its limited geographical focus and for the fact that it did not include documentary and television films. However, Schmidt also had praise for the title, noting that "Armes has succeeded in analyzing some well-known African films in new ways and in focussing attention on some facets of African film making and its sociocultural context which, heretofore, have not been given primary attention by Euroamerican critics."



African Business, November 1, 2006, review of African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara, p. 80.

Africa Today, March 22, 1994, Nancy J. Schmidt, review of Arab and African Film Making, p. 93; March 22, 2006, Mireille Rosello, review of Postcolonial Images: Studies in North African Film, p. 114.

Journal of African History, November 1, 2007, "The History and State of African Film," p. 492.

New Statesman, September 1, 1971, John Coleman, review of Patterns of Realism.

Research in African Literatures, September 22, 2007, Denise Brahimi, review of Postcolonial Images, p. 211.


Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (April 14, 2008), Ranjana Khanna, review of Postcolonial Images, and Mahir Saul, review of African Filmmaking.