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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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Welcome to Hollywood North, Canada: A World of Stand-Ins, Tax Breaks, Studio Expansion and Cultural Erasure/Re-Inscription


In a 2011 article entitled, ‘Vancouver movie magic captures the world’, Gordon Hardwick of the British Columbia Film Commission enthusiastically exclaimed: ‘We market under “A World of Looks”, because of the diversity of our geography. We have about nine bio-climatic zones […] That diversity is really what we promote when we’re engaging with our clients.’1 By clients, Hardwick principally means the ‘runaway’ Hollywood productions that since the early 1970s have been attracting funding from American studios, and have elected to spend a substantial proportion of their budget in Canada before releasing the film to domestic and international audiences. This system perpetuates and sustains the modern ‘Hollywood North’ film production cycle. Although it is certainly a salient part of the process, it would be disingenuous to credit geographical heterogeneity as the sole motivating factor in this industrial and cultural agreement. Through looking at the development of the ‘special relationship’ between the Canadian and American film industries, and in examining a number of significant ‘runaway’ case-studies such as McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971), the X-Men film franchise (Bryan Singer/Brett Ratner, 2000–14), and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Joel Zwick, 2002), this chapter will explore how the Hollywood North exploits Canada’s ‘World of Looks’, and how it is ← 263 | 264 → also an evolving world of stand-ins; a world without studio restrictions; a world of tax breaks; and a world of cultural erasure and re-inscription.

A world of stand-ins

Whilst spectacular CGI-laden products such as the...

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