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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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(Dis)Locations, Relocations: Representations of Northern France in Contemporary French Cinema


Geographical, social and cultural mappings of Norths remain insistently relative and consistently subjective, revealing that ‘… everyone has a different north, their own private map of the emotional – indeed the moral – geography of north and south.’1 Yet these ‘private maps’ are of course charted, navigated and overwritten by dominant and shifting socio-cultural discourses, which both reflect and create representations and constructions of Norths. Within contemporary European culture, Norths often evoke physical landscapes of harsh remoteness, austere beauty and meditative emptiness, providing a new and more politically comfortable discourse of the exotic (landscape, design, language) that is not located in the global South. Within some national contexts however, including that of France, the North is associated primarily with constructions of national space and socio-economic place that are characterized by post-industrial economic hardship and a profile more removed from the centres of power than the geographical distance between them could suggest.

In addressing the representation of Northern France in contemporary French cinema, this chapter will outline the ways in which, in addition to the subjective and relative nature of constructions of the North, representations of the same broad geographic North are subject to a range of vectors and discourses of aesthetic, cultural and economic capital and thus remain inherently plural, dynamic and relational. This chapter will not attempt a cataloguing of films which feature Northern France but rather selective moments in contemporary French film in which the North is represented and implicated in a vector of different discourses. A...

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