Looking at Tartan in Film: History, Identity and Spectacle

Richard Butt

in From Tartan to Tartanry

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638772
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653539 | DOI:
Looking at Tartan in Film: History, Identity and Spectacle

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This chapter examines the historical place of cinematic tartanry and the deployment of tartan in cinema more broadly, identifying both variety and continuity in the way in which tartan has functioned in film costume and narrative. It argues that from tartan kilts in an historical epic to tartan skirts in Japanese horror, the meaning of tartan in film is not always exhausted by its narrative function. It notes that in classic realist cinema the audience is supposed to look through the costumes to the personality of the characters underneath, because looking at the costumes in and for themselves would interrupt narrative progression and disturb narrative continuity.

Keywords: cinematic tartanry; film costume; narrative; tartan kilts; narrative progression; narrative continuity

Chapter.  5857 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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