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Mapping Cinematic Norths

International Interpretations in Film and Television

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Julia Dobson and Jonathan Rayner

Mapping Cinematic Norths presents an international range of research and enquiry into the significance, representation and manipulation of depictions of the ‘North’ in cinema and television. Northern landscapes, soundscapes, characters and narratives are defined and recognized as distinctive image-spaces within film and television. However, the ‘North’ is portrayed, exploited and interpreted in divergent ways by filmmakers and film audiences worldwide, and this volume sheds new light on these varying perspectives.

Bringing together the work of established and emerging academics as well as practising filmmakers, this collection offers new critical insights into the coalescence of North-ness on screen, exploring examples from Britain, Scandinavia, continental Europe, Australia and the United States. With contextual consideration and close readings, these essays investigate concepts of the North on film from generic, national, aesthetic, theoretical, institutional and archival perspectives, charting and challenging the representations and preconceptions of the idea of North-ness across cultural and cinematic heritages.

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Controlling the Past: Nostalgia and Northern Mythology

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Introduction: Remembering the North

It is increasingly common in contemporary realist British film to address notions of Northern-ness through nostalgia-infused narratives. The music and performance-based trio of Brassed Off (Mark Herman, 1996), The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997) and Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry, UK/France, 2000), the music biopic 24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom, 2002) and my case study Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007) explore Northern-ness through a register of past-ness. Other realist films set in the North do not necessarily privilege Northern-ness at all. Despite using a Bradford setting, which prompted many comparisons to Kes (Ken Loach, 1969), The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard, 2013) is less concerned with the specifics of place than it is with Britain’s underclass and its marginalized children. Weekend (Andrew Haigh, UK, 2011) is shot in Nottingham but, despite being an intensely local film in its representation of the city, it explores national rather than regional issues of homosexuality and youth. Director Shane Meadows maintains a loose approach to regional space, from the purposefully non-specific Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002) to the self-consciously national focus of This is England (2008). Conversely, in films such as Shifty (Eran Creevey, 2008) and Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, UK/Netherlands, 2009), spaces in the South present bleak edgeland housing estates more typically associated with representations of the North on film (such as Kes, Rita, Sue and Bob Too (Alan Clarke, 1987) and The Arbor (Clio Barnard, 2010) rather than the inner-city urban areas associated...

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