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Country, city, cinema: Humphrey Jennings and the landscapes of modern Britain

McCluskey, M.C.; (2011) Country, city, cinema: Humphrey Jennings and the landscapes of modern Britain. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis interrogates the production and projection of British landscapes in the films of Humphrey Jennings. I argue that Jennings’s films document the sights, sounds and spaces of British cities, suburbs and countrysides to reconcile divisions within the nation, to recall the shared history of the British people and to promote particular models of citizenship. My study brings to light Jennings’s consistent engagement with changes to British landscapes and with the representations and reputations that such changes contributed to national culture. The first chapter looks at a 1934 film that plays into audience assumptions about suburban life. The final chapter considers Britain’s position in the post-war world and Jennings’s promotion of ‘the new skylines on the horizon’. Throughout, I move chronologically and use both discursive and formal analysis to investigate discussions of particular places and people and to interrogate Jennings’s contribution to these discussions through his films’ framing of the landscapes of modern Britain. My analysis of Jennings’s films helps us to understand the production and consumption of physical, social and cultural landscapes in the interwar, wartime and post-war period. It also draws out Jennings’s interest in the spaces and places produced by British modernisation and in the interplay between natural and cultural landscapes, that is, the interrelationship between the real and the representational. Other studies of Jennings’s films scrutinise their structure, symbolism and links to surrealism but not the spaces that shape, and are shaped by, the films’ exposition. This thesis is the first sustained analysis of Jennings’s cinematic landscapes and, with the exception of Kevin Jackson’s biography Humphrey Jennings (2004) and with the kind permission of Marie-Louise Jennings, it is the first critical study of Jennings’s films to draw on his personal papers and unpublished writings.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Country, city, cinema: Humphrey Jennings and the landscapes of modern Britain
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Language and Literature

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