Fantasy, fallacy and allusion
Reconceptualising British landscapes through the lens of children’s cinema
in British rural landscapes on film
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The question of the expressive capabilities of British landscapes on film has received particular attention in critical writing on contemporary heritage cinema. One prevailing critique of this genre explicitly renders its landscapes as empty of meaning by defining it in terms of pleasure – or more accurately, fetish. In this chapter I focus on one genre in which English landscapes are typically rendered through fantasy, intertextuality and pastiche, namely children’s cinema. With reference to a number of UK/US co-productions, such as the Harry Potter and Nanny McPhee films, I argue that the Englishness represented here is filtered through a wide range of visual allusions, such as the illustrations of nineteenth century novels, Disney animation, the paintings of L. S. Lowry, as well as British costume-drama traditions. Such films also present a series of hybridisations and blurred boundaries – between past and present, English and American landscapes, urban and pastoral settings – all of which render Englishness at once noticeable but otherworldly.

Editor: Paul Newland

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