The Chronicle of Cinema 1895-1995 /1981: the Germans are coming

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In the final part of our series chronicling the history of cinema, we profile 1981, which saw much celebration of homegrown produce. Chariots of Fire was our flagship feature. It romped home to a five-Oscar win in Spring 1981. But Colin Welland's battle cry of "The Brits are coming!" proved premature.

Poland made an impressive showing with films by Agnieszka Holland (Fever) and Andrzej Wajda (Man of Iron). 1981 was also a bumper year for West German cinema, with works from Wolfgang Petersen, Volker Schlondorff, Margarethe Von Trotta and two features from the prolific Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Sadly, Fassbinder was to die the following year, aged just 36, leaving behind two final features, Querelle and Veronika Voss.


n John W Hinckley Jr professes undying love for actress Jodie Foster as he sprays Ronald Reagan with bullets in an assassination attempt.

n The Rank Organisation announces closure of 29 cinemas in Britain, reducing the overall number to 94.

n United Artists combines with MGM as MGM-UA. This is partly owing to UA's massive losses on Michael Cimino's mega-budget Heaven's Gate.

n John Waters' Polyester introduces Odorama: spectators are handed cards with scratch-discs which release (generally offensive) smells.

n The South Korean film A Girl Who Came to the City is withdrawn from cinemas when the Korean Automobile and Transport Workers Union strongly objects to its portrayal of the bus industry.

n Inauguration of Goldcrest Films and Television. During the early 1980s, it becomes the largest of UK film financing entities, backing features such as Gandhi (1982), Another Country and The Killing Fields.


Australia: Gallipoli (Peter Weir)

Brazil: Pixote (Hector Babenco)

West Germany: Das Boot (Wolfgang Petersen); Christiane F (Uli Edel) Lili Marleen and Lola (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

Hungary: Mephisto (Istvan Szabo)

New Zealand: Smash Palace (Roger Donaldson)

Sweden: Montenegro (Dusan Makavejev)

United Kingdom: An American Werewolf in London (John Landis); Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson); The French Lieutenant's Woman (Karel Reisz)

United States: Mommie Dearest (Frank Perry); On Golden Pond (Mark Rydell); The Postman Always Rings Twice (Bob Rafelson); Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet).