Therese Davis Therese.Davis at arts.monash.edu.au
Fri Aug 13 12:34:29 CST 2010

Research Unit in Film Culture and Theory (RUFCT)

Monash University






Room S704 (Menzies Bldg, Clayton Campus

Associate Professor Alastair Phillips and Dr Helen Wheatley,

Film and Television Studies Warwick University (UK)

Dr Helen Wheatley
Title: ‘Beautiful images, spectacular clarity’: Spectacular  
television, ‘landscape porn’, and the question of (tele)visual pleasure

  In establishing television’s difference from cinema, scholars have  
too quickly dismissed the medium’s spectacular qualities. Typically,  
arguments about television which emphasise comparison with cinema  
position the medium as visually inefficient (Williams, 1975 ) sound- 
led and lacking in visual detail (Ellis, 1982), or simply ‘less dense,  
less complex, less interesting’ (Lury, 2005). Theories of television’s  
distracted viewership also understand television as anti-spectacular,  
and, as Mimi White has argued, ‘the emphasis on the temporality of  
liveness on television (immediacy, interruption) distracts from  
consideration of the medium’s spatial articulations’ (2004). It is  
these articulations, in the form of the spectacle of landscape on  
television, which this paper addresses.

  Considering the recent cycle of ‘landscape porn’[i] on British  
television, I will discuss television’s spectacular aesthetic. The  
paper will explore the pictorial qualities of programmes such as Coast  
(BBC2/1, 2005-), A Picture of Britain (BBC1, 2005), Wainwrights Walks  
(Skyworks for BBC4, 2007), Britain’s Favourite View (ITV1, 2007)  and  
Britain from Above (Lion for BBC1, 2008), and visual pleasure on  
television. I will argue that these programmes presume a contemplative  
mode of viewing more traditionally associated with the spectacular in  
other media (landscape painting, film). Whilst I reject a  
technologically determinist argument about the rise of HD shooting and  
viewing technologies and the advent of this genre of programming  
(indeed, attention will be paid to pre-HD examples of landscape  
television as early as 1950), I will also understand these recent  
programmes as post-digital revolution television. This is  
simultaneously ‘slow television’ which allows for a contemplative gaze  
on spectacular ‘natural’ landscapes, and also a heavily-CGI’d cycle of  
programming which draws on a ‘Google Earth’ aesthetic to produce a  
frenzy of dazzling cartography, showcasing the spectacle of ‘new’  
technologies. The paper will be informed by interviews with production  
personnel working within this burgeoning field of programming.
[i] Steve Evanson, producer of Coast, interviewed 16/10/09

Alastair Phillips
Title: Unsettled Visions: Uchida Tomu’s A Fugitive From the Past/Kiga  
kaikyo (1965)

The field of Japanese ‘noir’ cinema is as notoriously unstable as that  
of its American and European counterparts. Whilst it is important to  
acknowledge stylistic and thematic points of similarity if they do  
indeed exist, it also remains essential to simultaneously observe the  
cultural specificities of the deployment of these patterns within the  
context of particular historical case studies. Examples of this kind  
of critical writing are Miyao’s recent work on Suzuki’s Branded to  
Kill (2007); Yoshimoto on Kurosawa’s High and Low (2000) and Phillips’  
discussion of Imamura Shohei’s Vengeance is Mine (also 2007). This  
paper will attempt to broaden the English language discussion of  
Japanese crime cinema by considering Uchida Tomu’s startling epic, A  
Fugitive From the Past/Kiga kaikyo, released in 1965 towards the end  
of Uchida’s lengthy career as a major Japanese film director.

A Fugitive From the Past (also known as Strait of Hunger) with its  
intriguing archetypal noir English language title is a critically  
undervalued crime film that spans space and time from Hokkaido in the  
North of Japan to Tokyo and from the late 1940s to the late-1950s.  
Uchida’s distinctive aesthetics certainly contribute to the  
atmospheric power of the film: it is shot, like High and Low, in black  
and white Scope and the film, like Vengeance is Mine, is preoccupied  
with a powerful sense of space and location. As with so many American  
film noirs, beyond a feeling of place and a concern with a  
distinctively moody visual style, A Fugitive From the Past, as its  
English language name suggests, is also concerned with the politics of  
temporality. It is this inter-relationship between landscape and  
memory that I especially wish to focus on in order to illuminate not  
just the noirish interplay between past and present in terms of an  
analysis of individual’s flawed psychology, but the implications of  
relating this to wider concerns about the politics of postwar Japanese  
society and the legacy of the Pacific war within the varied social  
tableaux of postwar Japan.

Helen Wheatley is Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at  
the University of Wawick. She has research interests in various  
aspects of television history and historiography and has published  
widely on generic television drama. She is the author of Gothic  
Television (Manchester University Press, 2006) and the editor of Re- 
viewing Television History: Critical Issues in Television  
Historiography (IB Tauris, 2007). Helen is currently undertaking  
research on the notion of television spectacle and visual pleasure on  
television. She is also co-investigator on the forthcoming AHRC-funded  
project, A History of Television For Women in Britain, 1947-1989 (with  
Dr. Rachel Moseley (Warwick) and Dr. Helen Wood(De Montfort  
University)), and corresponding editor on the journals Screen and  
Critical Studies in Television.

Alastair Phillips is Associate Professor in the Department of Film and  
Television Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. He is the author  
of City of Darkness. City of Light. Emigré Filmmakers in Paris  
1929-1939 (2004); Rififi (2009) and the co-author (with Jim Hillier)  
of 100 Film Noirs: A BFI Screen Guide (2008). He is the co-editor  
(with Julian Stringer) of Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts (2007)  
and (with Ginette Vincendeau) of Journeys of Desire: European Actors  
in Hollywood (2006). His articles have appeared in a number of  
journals and edited collections including Screen, Iris, Positif, The  
French Cinema Book (2004) and Film Analysis: A Norton Reader (2005).  
He is currently co-editing (with Ginette Vincendeau) The Blackwell  
Companion to Jean Renoir. Other projects include a new book on  
Japanese cinema for the BFI, a study of the films of Jacques Becker  
and an inter-disciplinary project provisionally entitled ‘Cultures of  
British Film Criticism 1950-1970’. He is a member of the Editorial  
Boards of Screen, The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Film  
Matters and the BFI Film Classics series.

Associate Professor Adrian Martin Adrian.Martin at monash.edu.au.
Head of Film and TV Studies, Monash University,

Refreshments will be served.

Therese Davis
Senior Lecturer, Film and TV Studies
School of English, Communications and Performance Studies
Arts Faculty
Victoria 3800 AUSTRALIA

Codirector, Research Unit in Film, Culture and Theory

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