Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The Pestilence in the Ditch: Landscapes in Contemporary British Film Culture

Jackson, Lawrence (2022) The Pestilence in the Ditch: Landscapes in Contemporary British Film Culture. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.97421) (KAR id:97421)


This thesis argues that certain British films of the first two decades of the twenty-first century are defined by their atmospheres of unease, and that these atmospheres grow out of the films’ bold and distinctive treatment of landscape. This approach to landscape simultaneously builds upon and differs from that of past British cinema, because of its association with a sustained tone of alienation, disenfranchisement and intensity. Focusing principally on the films of Andrea Arnold, Clio Barnard, Paddy Considine, Shane Meadows and Ben Wheatley, which together constitute a shadow strain of contemporary British cinema, my thesis uses the concepts of eerie, pastoral, heritage and epic to investigate the landscapes of British film culture in the new century. An introductory section looks at the relation of these contemporary screen landscapes to earlier cinematic and literary traditions, working to build up a methodology for the exploration which follows of the storytelling modes of eerie,

pastoral, heritage and epic. Films which utilise, subvert or renew each mode are then explored in detail, facilitating a discussion of their shared aesthetic stance of rebellion. The objective of the filmmakers’ stance is to avoid the falsification of history, and instead to embody authenticity. In their use of landscape, the films cross thresholds between the modes of eerie, pastoral, heritage and epic, and so redefine these modes in the context of twenty-first century British cinema. This thesis asks, how and why do these contemporary British films locate tension within the landscape? It argues that in so doing they hold a mirror up to past, present and future Britain, creating a new space, which is a British anti-landscape.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Cinquegrani, Maurizio
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.97421
Subjects: N Visual Arts
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2022 14:04 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2022 08:47 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Jackson, Lawrence.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.