Journal Article

‘A fine and private place’: the cinematic spaces of the London Underground

Charlotte Brunsdon

in Screen

Volume 47, issue 1, pages 1-17
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 0036-9543
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1460-2474 | DOI:
‘A fine and private place’: the cinematic spaces of the
                    London Underground

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This article explores the attraction of underground railways as a setting in film through the detailed analysis of several films from the second half of the twentieth century. Opening with a discussion of the way the London Underground is used in the 1997 Ian Softley film, The Wings of the Dove, the article examines the cinematic spaces of the London Underground in both fiction and documentary film and television. Quatermass and the Pit (Roy Ward Baker, 1967) is discussed as an example of the one of the most common underground tropes, the eruption of horror from below ground, and this is contrasted with documentary films which present the tunnels of the underground as a place of work. Films discussed here include Philip Donellan's The Irishmen, Ralph Keene's Under Night Streets and Molly Dineen's Angel. It is suggested that the spaces of the underground are in some ways more analogous to cinematic spaces than has hitherto been recognised and that, for a public space, it is often represented as surprisingly private.

Journal Article.  8219 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film ; Television

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