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Mapping Cinematic Norths

International Interpretations in Film and Television


Edited By 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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Every Good Boy Deserves Fun: One Dog’s Journey to the North


North … of all geographical terms it is the most personal, the most emotional, the most elusive. And perhaps the one which evokes the most powerful feelings.1


Peter Davidson’s description of the powerful symbolism of the North as a destination, as a dream, echoes the romantic hyperbole of the early polar explorers searching for the last untamed wilderness in an increasingly industrial world: ‘the great adventure of the ice, deep and pure as infinity … nature itself in its profundity.’2 It establishes North as the direction of adventures. This chapter will examine the North as the site of mystery and adventure, one of the last wildernesses to explore but one which is paradoxically comfortable, and populated only sparsely by oddly familiar characters. Through the examination of the author’s own short animation North, it will look at the use of narrative devices and media references to reflect on ← 177 | 178 → the symbolism of the North, and investigate the British relationship with it: not with the media construct of the North-South divide, but rather with a broader, more complex idea of a conceptual, imagined North-ness. This is seen in relation to certain stereotypes of iconic British-ness: our relationship with the sea, and its poetic evocation through the Shipping Forecast, with our dogs, and with our TV-facing sofas.

Drawing on its author’s own travel experiences and field research in Norway and Iceland, the short animation North can be viewed as a road movie, a Hero’s Journey,...

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