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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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Fighting the North in the Spaghetti West: Peter Lee Lawrence, Italian Westerns and Italian History

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Introduction

It can be unwise to second-guess the intentions of scriptwriters and directors when making symbolic readings of decades old films. However, when Spaghetti Westerns that feature American Civil War-related narratives are viewed with Italy’s own historical North-South conflicts in mind, it is sometimes possible to detect intriguing parallels that appear to metaphorically align the films’ representations of American history with specific episodes from Italian history. Indeed, adopting this approach can provide scholars with an additional interpretive tool that in turn enables original readings of the films to be made. This chapter will thus use comparative analysis to detail and contrast the sectional antagonisms and the differing representations of North and South that are found in Andrew V. McLaglen’s Hollywood Western The Undefeated (1969) and Leon Klimovsky’s Italian Western Raise Your Hands, Dead Man, You’re Under Arrest (1971). Both films feature prologues that are set on battlefields during the final days of the American Civil War, while their main narrative arcs detail the interactions of Northerners and Southerners directly after the war. It is suggested that, since a sense of unity between the North and South of Italy was not an obvious feature of their lived experience or their understanding of Italian history, the producers of Spaghetti Westerns that featured the American Civil War were inclined to roundly reject the themes of reconciliation that were the mainstay of Hollywood’s contemporaneous Civil War Westerns. In doing so these Italian producers made Westerns that can perhaps be ← 155...

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