University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

‘I didn't think I'd be working on this type of film’: Berberian Sound Studio and British Art Film as Alternative Film History

Newland, Paul ORCID: (2016) ‘I didn't think I'd be working on this type of film’: Berberian Sound Studio and British Art Film as Alternative Film History. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 13 (2). pp. 262-277. ISSN Print: 1743-4521 Online: 1755-1714

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It could be said that the films of the director Peter Strickland are in many ways exemplars of a rich strain of twenty-first-century British art cinema. Like work by Andrea Arnold, Steve McQueen, Jonathan Glazer, Lynne Ramsay, Ben Wheatley and Sam Taylor-Wood, among others, Strickland's three feature-length films to date are thought-provoking, well-crafted, prestigious, quality productions. But in this article I show that while Strickland's second feature-length film, Berberian Sound Studio, conforms to some of the commonly held understandings of the key traits of British art cinema – especially through its specific history of production and exhibition, its characterisation, its narrative structure, and its evidencing of the vision of an auteur – ultimately it does not sit comfortably within most extant histories of British national cinema or film genre, including art cinema. More than this, though, I argue that in its challenge to such extant critical traditions, Berberian Sound Studio effectively operates as ‘art film as alternative film history’. I demonstrate that it does this through the foregrounding of Strickland's cine-literacy, which notices and in turn foregrounds the historically transnational nature of cinema, and, at the same time, playfully and knowingly disrupts well-established cultural categories and coherent, homogenous histories of cinema.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: art cinema, Berberian Sound Studio, cult, experimental, Peter Strickland, transnational
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Central Services > Directorate
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Paul Newland
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 11:37
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:34

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