University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

We come, our country's rights to save: English rural landscape and leftist aesthetics in Comrades

Newland, Paul ORCID: (2015) We come, our country's rights to save: English rural landscape and leftist aesthetics in Comrades. Visual Culture in Britain, 16 (3). pp. 331-347. ISSN Print: 1471-4787 Online: 1941-8361

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Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, representations of rural landscapes in British cinema were most notably found in what became termed the heritage film genre (as exemplified by A Room with a View). These films have often been critiqued for their alleged conservatism (political but also aesthetic) and their ideological perniciousness. But Bill Douglas’s epic film about the Tolpuddle martyrs, Comrades (1986) – uniquely for 1980s British cinema – incorporates a range of leftist aesthetic devices in order to mark the English rural landscape as a politicized space of socio-cultural conflict. The film foregrounds the fact that the English rural landscape has been the subject of a long and complex tradition of representation. But as it does this it also critiques the ideological nature of much of this representation. Therefore, this article argues that Comrades is evidently Brechtian in its desire to involve spectators in this important story of political struggle, and, as such, unlike many British cinematic representations of English rural landscape in the 1980s and 1990s, the film encourages intellectual curiosity in (and objective judgement on) the socio-cultural events taking place in the rural landscape.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Bill Douglas, Comrades, aesthetics, rural, landscape
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Central Services > Directorate
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Depositing User: Paul Newland
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 11:37
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:34

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