Paul Newland
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Approaching British rural landscapes on film
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This introduction offers a survey of the study of rural landscapes across the visual arts, asking questions such as ‘what might make a British rural landscape cinematic’. It engages with various definitions of landscape, and how these might be understood within the contexts of cinematic representation. It shows how readings of landscapes in films might draw upon well-developed scholarly approaches to landscape painting and photography in particular. It offers a historical survey of what we might think of as ‘British rural landscape films’, and sets out potential parameters for this ‘genre’ (mainstream to avant-garde). This introduction also examines how far rural films deal with ideological issues pertaining to what we tend to think of as ‘Britain’, and how different areas of rural Britain have historically been represented in different ways in terms of how they are related to the landscapes that they inhabit. It notes the importance of considering the representations of topographies drawn from a wide sweep of the landscapes of the island of Great Britain, and considers the tensions thrown up when examining English, Welsh and Scottish landscapes either separately or together.

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