Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice 2 officially in the works!

beetlejuice

There have been talks of a Beetlejuice sequel for years, but now it looks like it is finally happening! It was announced in late 2013 that director of the original film, Tim Burton, was in talks with Warner Bros to direct a sequel. This is something Burton has been keen beetlejuice cartoonto do since the success of the original film, which spawned a cartoon TV series (which Burton was the executive producer of), and a whole range of merchandise. In June 2014, Burton confirmed that he was working on a script. It is unclear what the story will revolve around, but Burton’s initial ideas in the late 80s/early 90s involve Beetlejuice visiting Hawaii.

Winona Ryder, 17 at the time the original film was made, starred as gothic girl Lydia in Beetlejuice and has confirmed she is on board for the sequel. Michael Keaton has also been beetlejuiceconfirmed as reprising his role as creepy poltergeist Beetlejuice. It has not yet been confirmed whether Ryder will reprise her role as Lydia, but it seems likely. An older Lydia perhaps in a relationship with Beetlejuice as she was in the cartoon series. The screenwriters last attached to the project include Seth Grahame-Smith who wrote Burton’s comical vampire film Dark Shadows, and David Katzenberg.

Whatever the film consists of, with the key stars of the original Beetlejuice and its glorious comical horror director Burton all set to return to work on the sequel, it is bound to be a fun film that after almost three decades will finally be made.

beetlejuice-lydia

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Bathsheba’s Legacy: An examination of Hardy’s most iconic literary heroine

fftmc

This is my analysis of Far From the Madding Crowd‘s Bathsheba Everdene as arguably Thomas Hardy’s most iconic heroine and the recent film adaptation’s modern take on the classic story. This was originally written for a short introduction to the screening of the film at No.6 Cinema, Portsmouth, but due to various reasons it could not go ahead and so it has been published on the No.6 Cinema blog. I have however, also posted it here to add to my portfolio on my blog of film lectures/talks I have done.

Please do read it via the No.6 Cinema blog by clicking here

Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd tells the classic tale of headstrong farmer Bathsheba Everdene who attempts to weave a path of independence for herself in a world dominated by men. Far ahead of her time, Bathsheba takes orders from no one and proudly declares “my intention is to astonish you all”, and astonish she does as, unfazed by her limiting gender role, she becomes head of the farm she inherits from her uncle and proves her capability of ensuring it thrives. This is a tale of love, obsession and betrayal, as three suitors present themselves to Bathsheba, attempting throughout the film to win her heart. This is a tough challenge for the men to overcome as Bathsheba is a woman who declares that she does not want a husband as she would hate to be some man’s property.

What makes this recent adaptation different from the iconic 1967 film starring Julie Christie, or the BBC TV adaptation in 1998, is its patent sense of modernity. Avant gardeTess of the D'Urbervilles director Thomas Vinterberg does an outstanding job at bringing to life Hardy’s fictional dreamland known as Wessex through his lush images of Dorset. Vinterberg collaborated with screenwriter David Nicholls, who also penned the screenplay for the 2008 BBC adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles (pictured right) starring Gemma Arterton. Nicholls has a self-declared fondness for Thomas Hardy, and similarly to Tess, his ability to positively communicate the stories of resilient women who remain strong throughout their misfortunes is evident.

The action of this adaptation has been brought forward to 1880, a time when clothes for women began to transition into a slightly more modern style. This allowed costume designer Janet Patterson to create suitable outfits for a heroine who requires freedom of fftmcmovement for her bareback horse rides, climbing of ladders and wades into water to help the men with their farming duties. The first image the film presents us with is a person entering a darkened room. They are dressed in trousers and a fitted leather jacket, leading us to assume the person is male. We realise shortly after however that the character is in fact the female protagonist Bathsheba, the heroine of our film. Bathsheba’s red, leather jacket looks almost like a piece of armour, suggesting our protagonist is capable of fighting her own battles. In the next scene, we see Bathsheba sitting side saddle on a horse – a typical riding position for females in the Victorian era. Before setting off however, she swings her leg over the horse to ride it in a traditionally masculine position. It becomes clear that this is a film that breaks gender binaries and conventions. That Bathsheba is not tied down by her role as a female.

“It is hard for a woman to define her feelings in a language chiefly made by men to express theirs”. Bathsheba’s statement illuminates the dominance of the male sex during the Victorian era, but it is interesting to consider that Bathsheba’s words themselves arefftmc
created by a male writer, Thomas Hardy. Hardy presents the reader of his novel with a fiercely independent and strong-minded protagonist, something he seemed fond of doing when we examine his other literary heroines such as Tess Durbeyfield. Bathsheba’s determination, charming wit and lively intelligence make her an unusual female protagonist that stands out amongst the overdone collection of recent female characters in Hollywood. Characters that appear to exist to satisfy the demand for a more complex and interesting female representation, but still serve their purpose as a prize for the male lead.

What makes Bathsheba significantly stand out however, is her ability to make mistakes, act without clear motivation, and often be cruel. Bathsheba began as a lead female
character in a novel that was originally published almost 150 years ago, a time when not many iconic female role models existed. However, Hardy’s much-loved heroine became a feminist icon amongst the female characters of literature and film. Perhaps one of the most recent examples of one of Bathsheba’s heroine successors is Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, whose last name is a homage to Hardy’s heroine.

Katniss_HuntingFar From the Madding Crowd

Despite Far From the Madding Crowd being set almost 150 years ago, Bathsheba’s legacy has manifested itself through generations of young women and men who look up to her as a symbol of freedom and strength, a woman who is self-empowered but not motivated by power. As a move toward gender equality has progressed significantly over the past 100 years but with much more still to be done, I think that this makes Bathsheba as important a role model today, as she was at the time of the book’s publication.

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Official launch of Pathé’s ‘SUFFRAGETTES’ trailer

Suffragette

Pathé’s releases, including recent films Pride (2014) and Selma (2015), have established them as the go-to company for films focusing on social struggles. When it was first announced that Pathé would be releasing the first ever feature film about the Suffragettes, the Suffragette fangirl in me grew giddy with excitement as I donned my violet, white and green Votes for Women badge and looked through my Suffragettes memorabilia replica collection white drinking from my Votes for Women flask! (I have a lot of Suffragettes merchandise even including bags and playing cards and this can all be bought from the Museum of London online shop. Side note: I have always adored the Suffragettes and even my old high school’s uniform is now made up of the Suffragette colours of violet, white and green as the first headmistress was the president of the local Suffragette group. It is a girls’ school which has always promoted strong female role models of the past and encouraged us to fight for gender equality and that clearly rubbed off on me).

The Suffragettes were the heroines that brought the male-dominated world’s attention to the inequality that struck every area of a woman’s life. They risked everything and endured horrific torture to win political equality for women by earning them the right to vote.

“We’re not law-breakers, we’re law-makers”

So says Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) in the new Suffragette trailer (found at the bottom of this article) which twists Pankhurt’s original quotation “We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers” votes for womenwhen attempting to explain the anarchist actions of the Suffragettes in court. It is important to understand however when thinking about the Suffragettes, that these were women who had attempted consistently to have their voices heard through peaceful means for a very long time, yet the majority of men, and many of their fellow women, did not listen. This led to the more expressive acts of violence in their attempt to be heard that many know the Suffragettes for. These acts were often described as the acts of terrorists. The name of the Suffragettes was tarnished by those who were desperate to cling on to male dominance and power, and were adamant that women kept their submissive positions as housewives. The Suffragettes were truly incredible women whose actions often led to disownment from husbands, brothers and fathers, family and friends and were repeatedly sent to prison in order to simply win the right for women to vote.

Whilst many women involved with the Suffragettes were of working class background, many were of middle class background and well educated. So whilst many of these Suffragette Hunger StrikeSuffragette prisoners went on hunger strike whilst imprisoned, the government began force-feeding the Suffragette prisoners. As the hunger strike embarrassed the government, the government was reluctant to allow it to go on as any Suffragettes dying in prison over their treatment would be seen as a martyr for their cause. Force-feeding the women however led to the outrage of the public, even those who were against the Suffragettes as many of these Suffragettes were middle-class and so were expected to receive better treatment in prison. Similarly, force-feeding happened in lunatic asylums and so to force-feed a Suffragette was to controversially compare potentially well-educated, middle-class women to a lunatic inside the asylum.

cat and mouse actThe ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ came into play in 1913 when the Suffragettes were at the height of their movement. This meant that the Suffragettes who refused food would be left to starve in prison until they were incredibly weak. However,
before the women died, they were released into the public ‘on licence’. It was assumed that the women would then eat properly again and regain their health. If they carried on taking part in the Suffragette demonstrations and causing what the government perceived to be ‘trouble’ again, they were re-imprisoned and so the process would repeat itself, much like a cat playing with its prey before finishing it off.

Suffragettes Carey MulliganFinally a film has been made about these incredible women and their struggles in the Suffragette movement of the Edwardian era (although the first pre-Suffragette feminist was arguably Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) whose book The Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is one of the monumental pieces of writing on gender inequality). Suffragette focuses on the story of Maud (Carey Mulligan) whose husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw) is against the movement toward gender equality. Maud’s yearning for gender equality leads her in to becoming involved with fellow women who have named themselves the Suffragettes and embark on a terrible and arduous battle to win the vote for women.

An upcoming British production about British women, Suffragette naturally featuresuffragettes some of the monumental female stars of British cinema including Helena Bonham Carter (nicknamed ‘the English rose’ during her early acting career) and Carey Mulligan whose recent role as literary heroine in Thomas Hardy adaptation Far From the Madding Crowd (2015) has firmly established her as a figure of British female heroism). Meryl Streep co-stars as iconic Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst alongside talented British actor Ben Whishaw.

Every year the London Film Festival hosts its opening night with a chosen upcoming film and its premiere with the filmmakers and actors in attendance, and this year Suffragette has been granted that honour. On Wednesday 7th October 2015 at Odeon Leicester Square, Suffragette will grace the screens for the very first time. The film will fortunately be live-streamed in cinemas across the UK though so that the premiere of the film can be watched by thousands before the film’s official release at the end of the month.

Watch the brand new Suffragette trailer here:

Suffragette will have general release in cinemas on 30th October 2015.

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British Heritage Films: A Critical Examination of the Concept of ‘Englishness’

Downton Abbey

‘The concept [of the heritage film]… has become associated with a powerful undercurrent of nostalgia for the past conveyed by historical dramas, romantic costume films and literary adaptations’ (Vidal, 2012: 1). There are a diverse range of texts which may be considered as heritage films, and many of them produce an image of the past that is undoubtedly nostalgic, resulting in a recreation of past events which come to stand in for actual, and therefore as fictional, history.

The heritage film label may be understood in several different ways. Andrew Higson, in his work on English heritage and cinema, suggests that ‘the heritage film label is of course a critical invention of recent years, emerging in a particular cultural context to serve a specific purpose’ (2003: 11). There is much debate about what the term ‘heritage’ stands for. For instance, it can be thought synonymous with the historical film, which depicts ‘actual figures from history, in their historical context’ (ibid: 12). The heritage film could equally be understood as a costume drama, which ‘is sometimes reserved for films that present fictional characters in historical settings’ (ibid). Film scholar Claire Monk furthermore suggests that the heritage film may be a literary adaptation, costume drama, or a narrative derived from real history. Within this, she argues that the heritage film is not so much a genre itself, as it is made up of various genres including ‘melodrama, romance, comedy, satire, picaresque, fantasy, crime film, action adventure, political thriller, colonial epic, war film, horror, or vampire film’ (2002: 176). Interestingly, Phil 2Powrie argues that there is a third type of heritage film, the ‘alternative heritage film’, that focuses on ‘difficult moments in the national past which indicate contemporary fears’ (2000: 316). This might include films such as Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988) and The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997) which explore moments of social tension in the past to comment on contemporary issues. As such, the heritage film label covers a broad range of films set in the past, but they all share a common feature, in that they attempt in some way to create a particular version of Englishness, to ultimately establish a national identity.

The concept of the British nation is a way for Britain to create a sense of unity. This was particularly important after the nation was shaken by the affects of the Thatcher government. Margaret Thatcher rose to power as the British prime minister in 1979, resulting in significant changes around Britain. For instance, many manual labour industries such as the mines had closed down and, according to Simon Rogers, who outlines the ways in which Thatcher had changed Britain, unemployment in the UK hit a record high with almost 12% of the workforce unemployed in early 1984 (2013). It was however, the Northern regions of the UK that suffered the most as a result of industry closures, as that is where many of the manual labour industries were located. This regional divide resulted, according to Powrie, in a ‘geographical fragmentation of the nation intoMargaret Thatcher parts’ (2000: 324). In order to reunite the parts and re-establish a national identity, the image of the nation was emphasised, as Powrie suggests, as ‘something that, in the imagination at least, resolves separateness, difference, fragmentation’ (ibid: 325). The image of the nation is projected in the heritage film to restore not only our own faith in Britain and its cultural identity, but to reaffirm a positive image of the country to international audiences. Whilst this image is established and recognised as quintessentially British by national and international audiences, there is a significantly nostalgic focus on the image of upper and upper-middle class England, which then comes to be promoted as an authentic image of Britain as a nation.

Heritage films all commonly depict the past, but the way in which they represent the past differs. In the 1980s, when Thatcher was the prime minister, the films considered under the heritage label that were made during that time were arguably more conservative. Claire Monk points out that in the 1980s, the Thatcherite government was ‘at once highly generalised and explicitly dismissive towards ‘heritage films’ and their audiences’ (2011: 2). However, the films produced look back to the past and, as Higson argues, they ‘seemed to articulate a nostalgic and conservative celebration of the values and lifestyles of the privileged classes, and… in doing so [reinvented] an England that no longer existed… as something fondly remembered and desirable (2003: 12). The image of Britain, which becomes associated with the bourgeois societies of England, attempts to recreate the image of the English past, promoting conservative ideals, and avoids addressing the cultural and racial diversity of a changing Britain. Instead, heritage films ‘focus on a highly circumscribed set of traditions, those of the privileged, white, Anglo-Saxon community who inhabit lavish properties in a semi-rural Southern England’ (ibid: 27). Although this is perhaps far from a realistic depiction of Britain, in particular England, which the films often dwell upon, audiences, according to Higson, ‘must in some degree negotiate their ideas of England and Englishness… and seek to create an alternative mythology’ (ibid). British audiences, particularly those in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, accept the image of Britain portrayed in heritage films, despite it being a romanticised version of a minor section of the British population, that is, the bourgeois, upper and upper-middle class English communities. The image becomes a fantasy, and one which is sold to international National Trustaudiences, resulting in a promotion of the English past in the tourist industry. In other words, international audiences travel to Britain in order to be sold a particular version of Englishness, which is arguably why the English Heritage trust and the National Trust are popular. Monk supports this in stating that ‘the National Trust in preserving the private property of the upper classes had the hegemonic effect of constructing and maintaining a particular dominant conception of the national past’ (2011: 11). In visiting these places, audiences can engage in the nostalgic version of English history. The idea of the bourgeois English society and the nostalgic look back to its past is reflected in the aesthetic quality of the heritage film.

Many heritage films tend to be adaptations of canonical literature, which ‘functions as an important selling point, playing on the familiarity and/or cultural prestige of the [text]… and the status of a national cultural tradition… [where] the source text is as much on display as the past it seeks to reproduce’ (Higson, 2003: 20). Heritage film therefore becomes a symbol of quality, and arguably becomes a more valid representation of the past as a result of this. However, heritage films, often at the expense of narrative, focus largely on spectacle, transforming texts into works of art to be gazed at, placing aside any critiques the source text has to offer. Vidal believes that the ‘architectural sites, interior designs, furnishings and, in general, the mise-en-scéne of objects, settings and period artefacts… construct a sense of Englishness according to a certain bourgeois ideal of imperial tradition, stability and propriety that belies the subtler ironies of the novels faithfully adapted’ (2012: 9). Heritage films tend to focus more on the sets, costumes, and mise-en-scéne, than on any social critiques or commentary, arguably to portray a more idealistic version of England and Englishness. The conservative and idealistic representation of England and Englishness is arguably most evident in the traditional heritage films of the 1980s, particularly those produced by Merchant Ivory.

In Ismail Merchant’s book of Merchant Ivory interviews, James Ivory, one of the co-founders of Merchant Ivory Productions, was questioned about the company being a place for making films of value to which he replied ‘we certainly make quality films’ (2009, 123). The company produced films which were critically successful and are, according to Higson, ‘celebrated for their tasteful, soft-edged, pictorial recreations of the English past’ Howard's End(2003: 16). Their depiction of England as an idyllic place of luxury and wealth, in which refined upper and upper-middle class societies stroll through picturesque gardens, is sold to audiences as a place of culture and wealth. People who live within England are likely aware that heritage films often promote an alternative image of England to the realistic one. However, heritage films recreate an image of the past that is arguably more appealing than the present, and audiences are therefore arguably encouraged to do the same. This reinforces the concept of looking back to the past that was central to the policies of the Thatcherite government in which, according to film scholar Jim Leach, Thatcher ‘promoted a cultural vision of a return to supposedly Victorian family values’ (2004, 200).

Merchant Ivory, whilst producing films which were critically successful, they have, according to Earl G. Ingersoll, been severely criticised ‘for consciously appealing to nostalgia in later twentieth century-viewers for the last (and lost) days of beauty, comfort, peace, and charm associated with an older England’ (2012: 86). Merchant Ivory films tend to focus significantly on imagery and spectacle, and recreate the past as a nostalgic fantasy. In doing this, their films are arguable made more enjoyable not because of their faithful literary adaptations or critical success, but because they indulge in the heritage fantasy that so many audiences invest in. A Room with a View is based on the canonical novel of the same name (E.M. Forster, 1908). The film is one of three Merchant Ivory adaptations of a Forster novel in the 1980s, the other two being A Passage to India (David Lean, 1984), and Howard’s End (James Ivory, 1992). Similarly to the other two, A Room with a View arguably supports the heritage stereotype in some ways by promoting a conservative image of England through spectacle and idealistic representations of the ways in which people lived. It adapts Forster’s novel into a traditional heritage film that paints its landscapes with picturesque countryside, whilst the upper-middle class characters elegantly stroll through the backdrops, making each frame of the film resemble a work of art. The intertitles further compliment the focus on elegance, as the titles labelling each phase of the film are surrounded by stylish swirls. The characters are neatly clad in traditional, constrictive Edwardian garments, which play their part in connoting the repressive nature of this upper middle class society. Pam Cook, in her research on costumes and identity within British cinema, argues that ‘costume plays an important part in asserting and reinforcing national identity’ (1996: 41), and so it does in A Room with a View.

The costumes worn by the characters in A Room with a View emphasise the spectacle element of the film, acting as something to be gazed at rather than enhancing the narrative in any way. In heritage films it is often the case that costumes will take centre stage in scenes which serve no narrative purpose, for instance Michael Williams, in his analysis of A Room with a View as displaying traditional spectacle alongside various sexual politics, paraphrases Andy Medhurst who believes that the ‘almost demonically oppressive… white lacy ruffles of the blouse worn by Helena Bonham Carter… [are] another example of the ‘“white flannel” texts that infested’ British cinema in the 1980s’ (2005: 92). The costumes appear both repressive and respectful, indicating a society in which sex is a taboo topic and the characters are prim and proper in both their dress code and their manner. Lucy Honeychurch’s (Helena Bonham Carter) fiancé, Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day Lewis), is illustrative of this as he awkwardly attempts to give Lucy a kiss, one whicJulian Sands and Helena Bonham Carter in A Room With a Viewh is absent of any passion or emotion. This form of conservative thinking, emphasised by the white, laced up gowns of Lucy, suggesting her innocence, portray a society that is reflective of British, and more importantly, English values during Thatcher’s reign. Despite A Room with a View and many other heritage films, particularly those of Merchant Ivory, creating a version of Englishness that oozes refinement however, the films are arguably overtly aware of the image of English, and therefore British, culture that they are selling. England therefore, through its cinematic representation in the traditional heritage film, arguably promotes the values of a conservative nation. Interestingly however, there are alternative readings of A Room with a View that suggest it is more playful in terms of its representation of sexual politics.

Perhaps one of the most memorable scenes in A Room with a View is the one in which Lucy, Charlotte (Maggie Smith), and Eleanor (Judi Dench), accidentally stumble across three male acquaintances, one of which is Lucy’s brother, Freddy (Rupert Graves), who are completely naked whilst they playfully splash each other with water in the stream. Williams argues that this scene, ‘without making an issue out of sexuality, which would therefore create a narrative problem… is open and even liberating’ (ibid: 95). Whilst some audiences may interpret this scene as innocent and playful, it can also be read as an example of homosexuality. Furthermore, to paraphrase Williams, on the one hand thisRoom with a View men swimming scene depicts the homosexual subtext in a securely closeted way, and can therefore be regarded as fairly repressive. However, as the scene is not labelled as illustrative of homosexual desire, it simultaneously ‘does not become an issue that would stand in the way of the utopian dream’ (ibid: 95 – 96). Williams points out that ‘in the era of Thatcherite conservatism… the ‘PG’-rated spectacle seems truly exceptional’ (ibid: 96). Therefore, although A Room with a View is typically understood as strongly supportive of the Thatcherite policies, it is evident that there is also a deeper, more liberating subtext within the film that the film also appears to be aware of. Through this more playful depiction of English heritage, England is arguably represented as both a conservative nation that looks to the past, and a nation ready to break away from tradition. Playfulness in the heritage film is evident within other heritage films, particularly those that emerged in the 1990s, Shakespeare in Love being a prime example of this.

Shakespeare in Love can be considered under the label of a heritage film because it is very loosely based on a historical figure (William Shakespeare), and is set in the past (the Elizabethan period). The characters are clad in period costume, and in heritage film tradition, the film is overtly aware of, and attempts to promote, its vision of England through sets and costumes which act as a spectacle. For instance, the film begins with pans around the Shakespearian theatre, allowing the spectator to gaze upon a landmark of 8culture, in which iconic Shakespearian plays were acted out, promoting a vision of England to audiences as a part of the Shakespeare heritage. On the bonus features of the Shakespeare in Love DVD, the filmmakers explain that to capture the visual beauty of the Elizabethan day, they set to recreate the look on a plot of land in Shepperton studios (John Madden, 2011). In re-creating Elizabethan England, the film is attempting to visually recreate history. Were this portrayal accurate however, there would be a significantly larger display of poverty, and streets filled with rats, particularly as Hugh Fennyman (Tom Wilkinson) declares that all the theatres are closed as a result of the plague. However, there seems to be a lack of this, as the film romanticises its vision of the past in order to create a more attractive version of England. Whilst Shakespeare in Love in many ways relies on heritage film tradition, it simultaneously attempts to break it in much like A Room with a View, only in a more obvious way.

Shakespeare in Love is overtly playful in its representation of gender politics. It is liberating in the way that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, Viola, breaks gender boundaries by cross-dressing as Thomas Dent in order to audition for the part of Romeo in William Shakespeare’s (Joseph Fiennes) new play, as women were not allowed on the stage. Viola’s liberation not only from the female role in a patriarchal society, but also from the rules enforced upon her by her mother, who attempts to force her to marry Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) in whom Viola has no interest, is illustrated in various sequences throughout the film. For instance, as Shakespeare and Viola are about to have sex for the first time, William unravels Viola’s corset binding as she dances gracefully. Costume is symbolic within the film and although in this it adheres to the traditional heritage film, and acts as a spectacle to be gazed at, it is also indicative of the break from tradition, as Viola is symbolically liberated from all that oppresses her within society. On the DVD bonus features, Judi Dench remarks that this film is about youth. The film is also regarded as one which many fifteen year olds can relate to (ibid), suggesting that the film’s break from tradition is ultimately a break from Thatcher policies and more a reflection of the changing British culture. Shakespeare in Love therefore, can be regarded as both characteristic of the English heritage industry, and significant in how it promotes an arguably more contemporary vision of England.

Heritage films are widely acknowledged as quintessentially English, and as such, they focus on creating an image of England through sets, costumes and spectacle. The image produced in the films, particularly those of the Merchant Ivory films, have come to stand as a universally accepted image of Englishness, and although some films, Shakespeare In Love for example, attempt to break away from the heritage label, they still adhere to theShakespeare in Love tradition of recreating a romanticised image of the English past. Whilst these films are a kind of fantasy that is inherently filled with a sense of nostalgia, they may also avoid the reality of the English past. Although the vision of England created in these films acts primarily as a fantasy spectacle that appeals to both national and international audiences, they are also used as a way to establish an English national identity and unite the nation that became fragmented as a result of the Thatcherite government. The contemporary heritage film label therefore, can be considered as significant in its portrayal of English history, and the way in which it can be understood as a reflection of contemporary society. As Moya Luckett states – ‘national identity is always elsewhere, a paradox that seems to be echoed in the current efforts of audiences to find the nation in the images of British cinema’ (2000: 99), and the image of Englishness in the heritage film.

Bibliography

CHAPMAN, J., 2005. National Identity and the British Historical Film. London: Tauris & Co.

COOK, P., 1996. Fashioning the Nation: Costume and Identity in British Cinema. London: British Film Institute.

HIGSON, A., 2003. English Heritage, English Cinema: Costume Drama Since 1980. London: Oxford University Press.

HIGSON, A., 2006 Re-presenting the National Past: Nostalgia and Pastiche in the Heritage Film. IN: FRIEDMAN, L., 2003. Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism. London: Wallflower Press.

LEACH, J., 2004. British Film. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

LUCKETT, M., 2003. Image and Nation in 1990s British Cinema. In: MURPHY, R., British Cinema of the 90s. London: BFI.

MERCHANT, I., 2009. Merchant Ivory: Interviews. Missisippi: University Press of Mississippi 

MONK, C., and SARGEANT, A., 2002. Introduction: The Past in British Cinema. In: MONK, C., and SARGANT, A., 2002. British Historical Cinema. London: Routledge.

MONK, C., 2002. The British Heritage Film Debate Revisited. In: MONK, C., and SARGANT, A., 2002. British Historical Cinema. London: Routledge.

MONK, C., 2011. Heritage Film Audiences: Period Films and Contemporary Audiences in the UK. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

PIDDUCK, J., 2004. Contemporary Costume Film. London: British Film Institute.

POWRIE, P., 2000. On The Threshold Between Past and Present: Alternative Heritage. IN: ASHBY, J., and HIGSON, A. 2000. British Cinema, Past and Present. London: Routledge.

ROGERS, S., 2013. How Britain Changed Under Margaret Thatcher In 15 Charts. The Guardian. [Online] 8th April. Available at <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/datablog/2013/apr/08/britain-changed-margaret-thatcher-charts? [Accessed 28th April 2013].

SORLIN, P., 2001. How to Look at an “Historical” Film. In: LANDY, M., 2001. The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media. London: The Athlone Press.

STREET, S., 2009. British National Cinema. Oxon: Routledge.

VIDAL, B., 2012. Short Cuts: Heritage Film: Nation, Genre and Representation. New York: Columbia University Press.

Williams, M. 2005. Room With A Gay View?: Sexuality, Spectatorship and A Room With A View. In: FURBY, J., and RANDELL, K. Screen Methods: Comparative Readings in Film Studies. 2005. London: Wallflower Press.

Filmography

Distant Voices Still Lives. 1988. [Film]. Directed by: Terence Davies

The Full Monty. 1997. [Film]. Directed by: Peter Cattaneo.

Howards End. 1992. [Film]. Directed by James Ivory.

A Room With a View. 1985. [Film]. Directed by: Ismail Merchant and James Ivory.

Shakespeare In Love. 1998. [Film]. Directed by John Madden.

Shakespeare In Love. 2011. [DVD]. Directed by John Madden.

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Introducing The Adventures of Prince Achmed: My second pre-screening talk at No.6 Cinema

film

Last night, No.6 Cinema, Portsmouth held a screening event of Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) in aid of an Oska Bright event, a charity that encourages and helps people with learning disabilities to achieve their creative ambition. The film was accompanied by a live piano score and proceeded a short film called Johnny Dreams, a stop motion shadow silhouette animation made by amateur filmmakers with varying levels of diabilities.

Before The Adventures of Prince Achmed was presented, I provided a short introduction to the film, its status as a landmark of animation, its incorporation of German Expressionist stylistics, the creative processes involved in its creation, and its influence on contemporary animated films. This was my second pre-screening talk at The Adventures of Prince AchmedNo.6 Cinema (a link to my first, an introduction to Pride (2014) can be found HERE), and whilst I do not think it went as smoothly as my first, (which I put down mostly to my tiredness at the time and perhaps nerves, although I felt much more confident than when I gave my Pride talk – my hands weren’t shaking this time! Also, when trying to swap to the second sheet of paper, I failed to separate the sheets, despite it going smoothly during practicing, so perhaps I should memorise it by heart next time), I still think it went well and I had a very positive response! People thanked me for the talk and told me that it changed how they viewed the film, seeing it as a critical piece of work rather than just a pretty, children’s film. One of the people attending the film has met Lotte Reiniger a couple of times, so it the event was brilliant and brought with it a lot of interesting responses to the film.

A video of my pre-screening introduction can be found below. I hope to also offer more introductions in the future, and become much better at them whilst doing so:

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed introductory talk

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On Thursday 5th March 2015, I will be providing a short introduction to the animated feature film The Adventures of Prince Achmed at No.6 Cinema, Portsmouth. The film will be accompanied by a live score, and will be preceded by a short film called Johnny Dreams which is, similarly to Prince Achmed, a shadow puppet film. It is after the short film, whilst the musical accompaniment for Prince Achmed is being set up, that I will give my brief introduction to The Adventures of Prince Achmed. The event is presented by the OSKA Bright Charity which aims to encourage artistic ambitions of disabled filmmakers and change the cultural attitudes towards and empowering learning in those filmmakers so that they may achieve their creative goals.

My talk will examine the film as a landmark and pioneer of animated film, the processes involved in creating the stop motion shadow puppet animation, and the film as an example of German Expressionist art.

Tickets to the event are FREE but must be pre-booked HERE.

I would love to see anyone there that can make it. I gave a very successful introduction to British film Pride (2014) last October (a post on which and a video of can be found HERE).

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Richard Linklater keen to make a Boyhood sequel

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Richard Linklater’s Boyhood found critical acclaim and was nominated for several Oscars including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. The film cast a young boy as the star of a film which would ultimately tell us what it is to be human. Linklater shot a little bit of the film each year for 12 years starting in 2002. Keeping the same actors, and altering the script to make it relevant to what was popular with children in that year (for instance, the release of the Harry Potter books and singing popular songs of the time from icons like Britney Spears), anyone watching the film, particularly those of us that are about the same age as Boyhood star Ellar Coltrane, can relate to him and his interests. Ultimately however, Boyhood holds universal appeal. No matter what age a person is, or where they are from, they have all experienced childhood, and the complicated, joyful, heartbreaking, exciting, and memorable moments that come with it.

That is perhaps why Richard Linklater, who at first refused to make a sequel, is reconsidering it. This is what he had to say on the idea:

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To be honest… this film first met its audience exactly a year ago and for the first six months of the year, my answer to that was absolutely not. This was twelve years, it was first grade through 12th grade; it was about getting out of high school. I had no idea about another story, there’s nothing to say. It hadn’t crossed my mind. But I don’t know if it’s been a combination of finally feeling that this is over or being asked a similar question a bunch over the last year, that I thought, well, I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘the 20s are pretty formative, you know?’ That’s where you really become who you’re going to be. It’s one thing to grow up and go to college, but it’s another thing to… So, I will admit my mind has drifted towards [this sequel idea].

The twelve years [structure] came out of [school structure]. It wouldn’t have to be twelve years. It wouldn’t have to be… I mean, who knows. I mean, if I learned anything on the Before trilogy it took five years to realize that Jesse and Celine were still alive and had anything to say. This one would probably be more accelerated, but who knows“.

Would a Boyhood sequel make a good film? Perhaps filming life in the 20s and exploring early adulthood from the end of the teen years up until age 30 when a lot of people begin to settle down make for a good film. Either way, Boyhood remains an innovative and important piece of art and should be considered alone as a masterpiece.

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