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Sublime landscapes in contemporary British horror: The Last Great Wilderness and Eden Lake

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Landscape, as distinct from setting, presents its own visual authority, particularly in the horror genre. A number of contemporary British films contain pictorial images of the landscape that are not necessarily pivotal to the narrative. By implementing an analysis of these representations in contemporary British rural horror, and drawing on the theories of romanticism and the Sublime of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with their emphasis on the spiritual aspects of nature, allows for setting as more than narrative space. It produces an affect that elicits a certain type of emotion from the viewer, who is invited to experience an intuitive response on encountering the pictorial compositions, aiding narrative meaning. This essay examines what Martin Lebebvre describes as impure or spectator landscapes in two recent films: The Last Great Wilderness (MacKenzie, 2002) and Eden Lake (Watkins, 2008), and finds visual correlations drawn from the contemporary art world. This indicates that, from a socio-cultural perspective, the twenty-first century has witnessed an emergence of Romantic and sublime vocabulary in both film and painting, which indicates the existence of, what Raymond Williams might term, a structure of feeling.
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Keywords: aesthetic; contemporary British cinema; landscape; painting; romanticism; rural horror; sublime

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wolverhampton.

Publication date: 01 November 2010

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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