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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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North and South: Lynne Ramsay’s Morvern Callar

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This essay focuses on Lynne Ramsay’s second film, Morvern Callar (2002), in particular its abstract characterization of the film’s central character via colour, music and place. Ramsay’s North is Scotland, based, like Alan Warner’s original novel, on the port town of Oban. Here, just as much as in her first film, Ratcatcher (1999), Scotland is a character too, perhaps the most important character. But it is a Scotland that doesn’t appear in many guidebooks or, for that matter, in many films. The same is equally true of the Spanish interior that Morvern discovers in the second half of the film after a long taxi ride through the mountains. Morvern has to find her own South away from the tourist traps along the coast. She is at her happiest in the company of strangers, including a Spanish family who cannot speak a word of English. For Morvern, as for Ramsay, connections between people happen randomly and may not be dependent on understanding another person’s language. Indeed, not speaking at all may be an aid rather than a block to communication. Ramsay’s analysis of un-filmed and un-remembered places is analogous to her own position as a woman director in a notoriously male industry. The gender imbalance in directing, she once said at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, is ‘like a country not being filmed – and that country not having a voice’.1 Ramsay does not replace these gendered absences with straightforward presences. ‘Not having a voice’ in her work is not...

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