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A Public Haunted House: the Uncanny Urban Space on Screen


A Public Haunted House: the Uncanny Urban Space on Screen

Reed, Matthew (2011) A Public Haunted House: the Uncanny Urban Space on Screen. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Reed_MA_F2011.pdf - Accepted Version



A Public Haunted House: the Uncanny Urban Space on Screen

Matthew Reed

This thesis investigates how specific urban built forms have been used to unsettle cinema audiences at certain points in cinematic and architectural history. Drawing upon Freud’s theory of the uncanny in combination with extensive architectural criticism and discourse on cinema and its intersection with the city, I argue that uncanny architecture provides a fundamental critical framework for representing, expressing and dramatizing fear towards the metropolis. Divided into three chapters I analyze three different architectural epochs revolving around a historical narrative of the emergence, decay and absence of architectural Modernism. Beginning in Weimar Berlin I examine Walter Ruttmann’s exploration of first wave Modernity in Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (1927) and his exploitation of the primal, mystical uncanniness hidden within a city of proposed rationality, functionalism and strict geometry. I then turn to the architecture of British brutalism and explore a shining modernity decayed into neo-gothic ruins, in Andrea Arnold’s Red Road (2006) in which a British audience is haunted by the ghost of an earlier social idealism. I then conclude by moving to contemporary Tokyo in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse (2001) and confront the uncanniness endemic in a city invested so heavily in non-human technology and “non-architecture”. Throughout I argue that the metropolis will always find a way to haunt itself. Ideas of transience, death and spatial disorientation will remain fixed foundations for any developed city and that the urban uncanny is a malleable, shifting condition, consistently capitalized on by the cinema.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Reed, Matthew
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Film Studies
Date:1 July 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Russell, Catherine
ID Code:35858
Deposited By: MATTHEW REED
Deposited On:21 Nov 2011 14:38
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:35
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