Cinematic landscapes

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87 Scopus citations


From sweeping panoramas in Westerns to gritty noirscapes in Los Angeles to travelogues in places both close to home and faraway, landscape is central in the formation of cinematic space. Landscape gives meaning to cinematic events and positions narratives within a particular scale and historical context. Where place and landscape ground action and the construction of meaning, space provides the stage for the story to unfold. Landscape and film are both social constructions that rely primarily on vision and perception for their very definition. Vision links and distances us from cinema and landscape; it makes it easier for us to be disengaged through the act of viewing. Yet there is an intimate bond in this disengagement, where the viewer must reach out and establish some sense of place whether it is through a windshield, on a movie screen, or standing in the middle of a scape. Our attachments to and understanding of landscapes are necessarily mediated by culture, attitude and experience. There is a link between landscape and cinema, one that is deeply engrained in the American mind and in the land. This essay combines the metaphors of theater and text to explore how landscape functions in cinema and television.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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