Sublime Landscapes in Contemporary British Cinema: The War Zone

By Stella Hockenhull.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Film Studies has been largely preoccupied with narrative theory since the 1970s, sometimes to the neglect of the aesthetic dimension of a film. The use of an aesthetic approach allows for setting as more than narrative space. It appropriates specific moments freeing them from service to the story and, by finding a correlation between these moments in film and painting it offers the spectator meanings and pleasures not necessarily available through a narrative reading. The focus here is on nature, and the land as a spiritual place is relevant in that it finds its roots in traditional Romantic imagery of a century earlier. However, this imagery may still be found in contemporary visual media and, by implementing the aesthetics of Romanticism and the Sublime as theoretical frameworks, preoccupations such as a search for solitude, isolation and spiritual nourishment may be located within, and derived from, an aesthetic approach to the film. The use of ‘frozen moments’ in film in excess of narrative plausibility, and presented more or less as tableaux, invites a specific comparison with painting, involving a conceptual engagement with the aesthetic theories of Romanticism and the Sublime. This paper focuses on the use of landscape as affect in the recent British film, The War Zone (Roth, 1999) drawing comparisons with movements in nineteenth and twentieth-century painting.

Keywords: Film, Painting, British Cinema, Romanticism, Sublime, Narrative Theory

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 10, pp.67-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.847MB).

Stella Hockenhull

Senior Lecturer, Film Studies, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK

I am a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, and my research interests lie in the correlation between film and painting. I have recently published a book entitled Neo-Romantic Landscapes: An Aesthetic approach to the Films of Powell and Pressburger based on my PhD. At present I am researching the use of landscape and narrative space in contemporary British cinema.


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