Costume Drama: From Men in Kilts to Developing Diasporas

David Martin-Jones

in Scotland: Global Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780748633913
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651207 | DOI:
Costume Drama: From Men in Kilts to Developing Diasporas

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This chapter examines the most well known of all the popular genres associated with Scotland, the costume drama (sometimes referred to as the period drama, heritage or historical film). Initially, the debate surrounding costume drama is introduced — in particular the contested term ‘heritage cinema’ — and the role that costume dramas made and set in Scotland increasingly play in this debate. Because of the popularity of this particular genre, however, the chapter look at example featuring a female protagonist, The Governess (1998). In The Governess, the wilderness of Scotland is represented as a fantasyland, but its mythical resonance as a place somehow ‘before history’ actually facilitates the construction of a diasporic history, or ‘heritage’, that stands apart from concerns of British or Scottish identity. Thus, the setting of Scotland is integral to the film's deployment of its feminist reworking of history (a process typical of the contemporary costume drama), in this case to explore a diasporic Jewish identity that does not belong to the same historical traditions as those normally encountered in the wilds of cinematic Scotland.

Keywords: Scotland; costume drama; period drama; heritage cinema; The Governess; wilderness; fantasyland; history; identity

Chapter.  7745 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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