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fourmi of Cullurni Geo^nphy FnU/Winler 200B - 23a):3-22

Cinematic Landscapes
Chris Lukinbeal
ABSTRACT. 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.
In 1979 excerpts from J. B. Jackson's Carl O. Sauer memorial
lecture were published in Landscape magazine. Aptly titled
"Landscape as Theater," Jackson explored the metaphor and sug-
gested that its popularity peaked in the late 16"^ century. During
that era, theater was often used in combination with travel and
geography. Landscape as theater implies the interrelationship of
three different items: (1) that theater is a staged production with
a set of socially and artistically determined rules, (2) that humans
control and design the landscape as if it were a theatrical stage.
4 Journal of Cultural Geography
and (3) that theater imparts the human ability to see ourselves
as occupying the center of the stage (Jackson 1979). According to
Jackson, the metaphor of landscape as theater initially focused on
spectaclehuman control of the stageand later shifted to
drama^the analysis and solution of a problembefore being
rejected for more vivid metaphors that define landscape. Theater
was, and is, a useful analogy for landscape because it "emphasized
the visual, the spectacular aspect of the environment, but it also
suggested a spectacle in the sense of a dramatic production with
a well-defined space, an organization of place and time, and a
coherent action" (Jackson 1979, 4).
Jackson's essay offers a useful starting point for a discussion of
cinematic landscapes. Landscape as theater is suited for an
examination of cinema because theater is its immediate artistic
predecessor. The early film industry lacked 19"^ century industrial
precursors and as such copied craft production techniques from
theater (Storper 1989; Musser 1990; Lukinbeal 2002). With its
emphasis on the visual, the spectacular, and male control of the
stage, this metaphor emphasizes landscape and cinema as a cultural
production, a space that is mediated by power relations.
If, as Jackson argues, landscape as theater reflected the 16^^
century, then landscape as text is the metaphor of the late 20^^ and
early 21^* centuries. Landscape as text is the dominant metaphor
in film geography because it provides a means to explore the
intersection between narration and geography. While a useful and
appropriate device to engage landscape, the metaphor also works
to constrain the discourse surrounding cinematic landscapes. Tim
Cresswell and Deborah Dixon (2002) argue that landscape as text
has become hegemonic within the subfield of film geography and
may even reinforce the binary logic of real-reel. This logic is clearly
apparent in Andrew Horton's (2003, 71) recent essay where he
states, "all landscapes in cinema are 'reel.' That is to say, both
landscapes that look like we could touch them, walk through them
and smell them, as well as those that look entirely fanciful or
theatrical, are presented to us through the medium of film."
This type of binary logic privileges material landscapes and
firmly positions cinematic landscape as "representation." Academic
geography has a long history of privileging the real over the reel,
a legacy that goes back to an emphasis on descriptive fieldwork.
Christina Kennedy and Chris Lukinbeal (1997) trace the legacy of
this binary back to David Lowenthal's (1961) influential paper,
"Geography, Experience, and Imagination: Towards a Geographical
Cinematic Landscapes 5
Epistemology" where sensory perception and cognition are privi-
leged over social and cultural ways of knowing. A key issue in the
debate about new versus traditional cultural geography focused on
the overt emphasis placed on the study of material landscapes by
traditional cultural geography (Price and Lewis 1993a, 1993b;
Cosgrove 1993; Duncan 1993; Jackson 1993). New cultural geogra-
phers responded by focusing on nonmaterial landscapes and
representations (Cosgrove 1984, 1987, 1993; Daniels and Cosgrove
1988; Daniels 1989; Aitken and Zonn 1994; Natter and Jones 1993).
I have argued that the backlash of these debates was to link
film to the negative end of each binary which relegates cinematic
research to the back of the cultural geography agenda (Lukinbeal
2004a). While the textual metaphor has its uses when studying
cinematic landscapes, it brings with it some added binary baggage
that we need to be aware of before deploying it. Landscape as
theater points to cinema's double ontology: as image and industry
(Fitzmaurice 2001). Where landscape as text limits cinema's
ontology to the image, theater moves beyond this boundary.
Jackson's (1979,4) metaphor repositions our focus from only image
to the four functions that landscape can serve in narrative film:
place (as an "organized place and time"), space (as "a well-defined
space"), spectacle (as a "spectacular environment") and metaphor
(as a "dramatic production" and a "coherent action").
In this essay, I investigate the cinematic landscapes of
Hollywood. I do so by drawing on the metaphors of theater
and text to explore Andrew Higson's (1984, 1987) taxonomy of
the functions landscape can serve in narrative cinema and
on television.
Landscape as space is closely tied to the term "placeless" and
generic representations of place (Relph 1976). In this volume, Kevin
McHugh's essay challenges our preconceived notions of placeless-
ness. Wal-Mart is the central focus of Doug Hawes-Davis' movie.
This is Nowhere. Hawes-Davis interviews people who travel the
United States and camp in Wal-Mart parking lots. Through
weaving disparate interviews with imagery and dissonant music,
Hawes-Davis seeks to show how one group of Americans responds
to the homogenization and globalization processes in the American
landscape. In contrast to Yi-Fu Tuan's (1977) classic definition of
place. Nowhere, or Wal-Mart, is a center of felt values and a
community of the mobile.
6 Journal of Cultural Geography
As space, landscape provides an area in which the drama of
the film can unfold. As such, landscape is constantly turned into
a space of action. Put another way, social space de-centers the
importance of locational place allowing narratives to unfold
(Higson 1984; Aitken and Zonn 1994). It is here that mise-en-scene
becomes important; where place-space tensions and dynamics
occur^ Landscape as space is always subordinate to the drama of
the narrative. As space, landscape is minimized by the cinematic
shot (typically full, medium, and close-up) and the camera angle
(eye level or near eye level, and possibly low and oblique angles).
With these angles and shots the attention of the viewer remains
focused on the social space and dialogue between actors. Close-ups
of characters with blurry backgrounds, shots that remove the
landscape from view revealing only an object and the sky, or action
shots that move rapidly through a landscape, are examples of
landscape as space.
Throughout the history of American cinema, there have been
times when landscape as space dominated film production. Land-
scape as space is most frequently filmed on studio sets or on
backlots. Sets and backlots offer generic spaces which can be used
for multiple narrative purposes. Larry Ford (1994) and Mark
Rappaport (1980) argue that American silent films used landscape
as a stage upon which live action could happen. While one can point
to some staged productions from this era, landscape as space did not
become dominant until the coming of sound and the studio system.
During that era, landscape was frequently depicted as painted
backdrops on sets. The studio system era marked the height of the
use of landscape as space in feature films, an era of "constriction
and artificiality" that lasted for over three decades (Maier 1994, 3).
Landscape as space would dominate television productions (TV
series, TV movies) and low budget features from the 1960s
to present. While there are always exceptions, most of these produc-
tions focus on social narration rather than geographic realism.
Landscape as place is closely associated with the geographic
expression "sense of place" and refers to the location where the
narrative is supposedly set (whether real or imagined). Place
provides narrative realism by grounding a film to a particular
location's regional sense of place and history. Landscape as place
provides realism and requires the viewer to read the story as taking
Cinematic Landscapes 7
place or more precisely, "events take place" (Wollen 1980, 25). In
film, events take place and transform it into narrative space. Movies
also take place in a particular geographic location. This geog-
raphy in film holds the action in place. Bernard Nietschmann (1993)
argued that there are four ways a film can depict a strong sense
of place. First, the narrative is told in such a way that it allows
the viewer to understand the various geographic scales that are
negotiated throughout the production. By allowing geographic
scale to be comprehended, the viewer never becomes displaced, or
lost in narrative space. Second, films that use multiple signifiers
of place rather than just stereotypical ones allow the everyday
complexities of place to be available to the viewer. Third, films can
position place in the foreground as a supporting actor, rather than
merely as background scenery (Aitken and Zonn 1994). Fourth,
narratives can be situated within place rather than simply focused
on actions and events. Some directors like Walter Salles, Robert
Redford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Soderbergh, Woody Allen, and,
importantly in this collection, John Sayles allow place to play
a central role in the shaping of the film's ambience. For them land-
scape as place becomes a central component of the narrative in that
it acts upon social space. This is similar to Don Mitchell's (2000)
claim that landscapes do "work" because they reinforce specific
social identities. While landscapes are read and interpreted for
visual signs, they also mediate our interpretation (Rose 2003). Ac-
cording to Gillian Rose (2003, 167), a landscape's "visuality is
seen as looking back, if you like, and having an effect itself."
Landscape as place, through on-Iocation filming, dominated
the pre-nickelodeon era. Landscape provides the subject and the
purpose of many of these early films. In essence, landscape served
as a found event, grounding the entire subject matter for early
actuality films (Gasher 1995,236). Actuality films were grounded by
landscape as place and spectacle because the location was the
central focus of the film. Landscape as place not only includes the
exotic location through the foreign travelogue and newsreel genres,
but also the familiar locale in the city film (Fig. 1).^ With the travel
film, an expert travel narrator would often accompany the
production explaining what was being depicted. Of all the early
genres the travel genre was, according to Charles Musser (1985,47),
"one of the most popular and developed forms of film practice in
the pre-nickelodeon era." Half of the features listed as headline
attractions in Vitagraphs' 1903 catalogue were travel subjects
(Musser 1985).
8 ' journal of Cidtural Geography
Fig. 1, Actuality film. Panorama from Times Building, New York/American
Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905.
Landscape as place is often established in the master shot or
the establishing shot. The master shot occurs at, or near, the
beginning of the film; usually a long shot that is panned or tracked.
Master shots may simply be archive footage of locations, second
unit productions or first unit production shots. Landscape as place
is usually depicted in extreme long shots, long shots and deep focus
shots, using a bird's-eye view or high angle camera setup (the angle
is usually situated in a position where the camera's eye can see
a great distance).
For example, in Class Action (1991) the master shot is also the
opening shot. As intriguing music excites the spectator, an aerial
shot, with the top of the Golden Gate Bridge in the foreground,
pans across the bay, over the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the
Transamerica Building, and ends by zooming on downtown San
Francisco. Subsequent shots place the action at the human scale of
the streetscape: trolley cars, traffic, people on their way to work,
and city hall. Master shots rely on icons and stereotypes of place
to establish a cognitive map of the narrative's geographic location.
This cognitive map depends on the audience understanding the
central icons of a location (the Golden Gate, Transamerica Building,
trolley cars). This does not mean that a person needed to visit the
location to understand these icons. The repetitious use of icons by
film and television of particular places and buildings can create
a representational legacy that works to construct and establish
a cognitive map, a sense of place. For instance, the distinctive
wrought-iron interior of the Bradbury Building in downtown Los
Angeles has its own representational legacy because it has been
featured in 20 different films including, for example, Se7en, Blade
Runner, Wo//and Chinatoivn (Fig. 2).
Returning to a pan shot of a landscape during the film re-
establishes the individual or action in its environment. Place is not
simply on display in this case, but positions and authenticates the
Cinematic Landscapes 9
Fig. 2. The Bradbury Building located at 304 S. Broadway in Lob Angulcs.
narrative (Higson 1984). Through repetition these images reinforce
and create a bond between narrative and place. For instance, the
popular television show Friends uses reestablishing shots of
Manhattan following nearly all commercial breaks. These re-
establishing shots intermix icons of Manhattan at various scales:
from the human scale of the street to shots of the skyline. While
20 Journal of Cultural Geography
Fig. 3. 90 Bedford Street: Chez Michallet. Better known as the apartment
where Monica and Chandler live in the television show. Friends.
most of the narrative action occurs in a landscape of space filmed in
a Los Angeles studio, the show's place in Manhattan is reaffirmed
and established through the repetitious use of the building at 90
Bedford Street in Greenwich Village (Fig. 3).
Cinematic Landscapes 11
Landscape in film can be simply a spectaclesomething beau-
tiful and visually pleasant (Higson 1984, 1987). As spectacle, land-
scape combines a number of functions in one image. For example,
in the master shot, landscape functions as place and spectacle. As
spectacle, it can be something fascinating in itself, thereby momen-
tarily satisfying a voyeuristic appeal created by the narrative. In this
instance topophilia and scopophilia combine when landscape and
screen are one with the voyeuristic desire. This can happen when the
filmmaker returns to a pan shot of a landscape during the film. Here,
landscape is either a spectacle of beauty or a spectacle because it
generates curiosity and interest.
Landscape as spectacle encodes power relations within the
gaze. Determination of what constitutes beauty, who is gazing and
what we are gazing upon, are questions which help expose the
inherent power relations embedded within cinematic landscapes.
Gillian Rose (2001, 6) calls this the concept of the scopic regime or
"what is seen and how it is seen are culturally constructed." This is
not a monolithic construction; rather, various scopic regimes exist
for different social and cultural groups throughout the world. In
her well-known essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Film," Laura
Mulvey (1975) seeks to expose the scopic regime of Hollywood
cinema. Mulvey contends that Hollywood's glamour and charm
come from a skillful manipulation of the medium which seeks
to establish and codify meaning to deliver scopophilic pleasure.
Mulvey argues that Hollywood cinema is dominated by the
patriarchal gaze; one where the male character looks, we look,
and the female character is looked at. GiUian Rose (1993) would later
use Laura Mulvey's arguments to challenge the hegemony of the
white male gaze in landscape studies.
Hollywood's voyeuristic pleasure was first codified through
the establishment of the classical paradigm. Miriam Hanson (1990,
55) explains that the classical paradigm is a "mode of narration"
that makes "films self-explanatory and self-contained, that al-
lowed them to be understood by a mass audience regardless
of cultural and ethnic backgrounds." The classical paradigm domi-
nates Hollywood film and was elaborated upon through various
codes and styles between 1907 and 1917 (Hanson 1990, 1991). This
paradigm transformed cinema "from a primarily working-class
entertainment to an ostensibly classless institution of popular
culture, as the focus of industrial attention shifted from the
12 - Journal of Cultural Geography
neighborhood nickelodeon to the downtown picture palace"
(Hanson 1990, 55). Pre-nickelodeon modes of narration often de-
pended upon the audience having foreknowledge of events, as in
the city film, or being mediated by a lecturer, as in the travel film
(Kirby 1989). Because of this, many early films were not self-
contained representations, but relied on the audience's participation
to create the movie-going experience.
With this style of exhibition the meaning associated with the film
was highly contingent upon the local, social context of consumption
(ethnicity, gender, class, etc.). In other words, the scale of the scopic
regime was extremely hmited. In contrast, the classical paradigm
sought to remove the unpredictability of interpretation and reception
by standardizing a film's meaning within narration. Narration in the
classical paradigm became a commodity because it elides the social
differences of local scale and attempts to move the consumption of
a product to a larger scale by standardizing and naturalizing the
production of the narration (Hanson 1990, 55). With the implemen-
tation of the classical paradigm the scale of consumption shifts from
the local to the national and international. In other words, the scopic
regime of Hollywood had to be implanted into the narrative style
and be accepted as natural by its viewers, something that took a
number of decades.
Whereas early cinematic techniques rarely focused the viewer's
attention on the narrative, the classical paradigm sought to control
the gaze through a detailed articulation of meaning. Rather than
closing off the interaction previously associated with film reception,
the classical paradigm incorporates the spectator into the film
product by anticipating and frustrating the viewer's desire. The
viewer becomes "an ideal, textually centered spectator . . . spectator-
ship became the commodity form of reception" (Hanson 1990, 56).
With spectatorship centered on an ideal spectator (typically a white,
middle-class male), classic narration allows a barrier to form
between the viewer and the image. Interactions between viewer
and image become perceptually segregated and enforced through
a number of film styles. First, the viewer becomes invisible to anyone
within the diegesis, the world of the film's narrative. This allows the
viewer to maintain omnipresence in filmic space while becoming
removed from that space (sometimes called the "god-trick").
Second, fictional closure with unity and continuity within compo-
sition presents an encapsulated insular filmic space. Continuity is
also gendered where males dominate narrative through power-
ful, pre-written characterizations that allow men to command the
Cinematic Landscapes 13
center of the stage. In contrast, a woman's glamour is erotically
objectified. In filmic space the stage is a "spatial illusion in which he
articulates the look and creates the action" (Mulvey 1975, 13).
Finally, the mode of reception shifts from a space of interaction
between the viewer and a film to one where the "god-trick" replaces
interaction with segregation (Hanson 1990, 1991).
Similar to landscape as spectacle, metaphor seeks to bridge the
tensions created by the transformation of place into space. Herein
lies an important way in which cinematic landscapes exceed the
bounds of the image. Stuart Aitken and Leo Zonn (1993, 195)
explain that, as viewers, "we can 'suspend our disbelief and
embrace the 'dubious' meanings constructed within the land-
scape." Through the use of metaphor, meaning and ideology are
appropriated into landscape, the most common example of which
is the attribution of human or social characteristics to landscape
(Durgnant 1965; Sherman 1967; Rappaport 1980; Higson 1984,1987;
Aitken and Zonn 1994). This process of attribution is more
appropriately called naturalization; where a narrative seeks to pass
off that which is cultural as natural (Duncan and Ley 1993). The
subfield of film geography has primarily engaged issues that
illustrate how cultural politics is naturalized in film. Cultural
politics refers to the "domain in which meanings are constructed
and negotiated, where relations of dominance and subordination
are defined and contested" (Jackson 1991, 200). Film geographers
have examined the cultural politics of such varied themes as race
(Zonn and Winchell 2002; Natter 2002; Aitken 2003; Mains 2004),
cultural identity (Smith 2002; Zonn and Winchell 2002), violence
(Kirsch 2002) and gender {Aitken and Lukinbeal 1997, 1998;
Lukinbeal and Aitken 1998; Aitken 2001; Dahlman 2002; Craine
and Aitken 2004; Holmes, Zonn and Cravey 2004).
Johnston, Gregory, Pratt, and Watts (2000, 500) distinguish
between large and small metaphors. Small metaphors are rhetoric
devices or literary tropes, for instance, a character is sad and it begins
to rain. Other examples include the use of the desert to represent
a location of evil and/or the supernatural. Small metaphors
naturalize prevalent cultural stereotypes about landscape. Stereo-
types for the geographer are "a process of categorization through
which distinctive features of one place are used to give identity"
14 . Journal of Cultural Geography
(Burgess and Gold 1985, 9). Stereotypes link assumptions about
cultural and behavioral characteristics to particular places. Stereo-
types about place in film can contribute to a sense of place, but
also naturalize cultural politics about place and people.
It is also suggested that large metaphors "structure research
paradigms" (Johnston et al. 2000). Extrapolating from this, large
metaphors in film structure common ways of seeing the landscape
for a social or cultural group. Ginematic landscapes are sites where
meaning is contested and negotiated, a veritable arena of cultural
politics. That which is perceived as natural, ordinary or normal in
the cinematic landscape is explained as, "a site of contest in one
case, and the landscape as a site for the affirmation of the dominant
narratives of identity, in the other . . . " (Mitchell 2001, 277). In other
words, naturalized meaning only appears natural to the dominant
group. Power relations and the mediation of meaning is embedded
in the production, depiction, and consumption of every cinematic
landscape. For instance, an anti-urban sentiment pervades much of
Hollywood cinema (Sherman 1967; Holtan 1971; Clark and Allen
1977; Gold 1984, 1985; Lukinbeal and Kennedy 1993; Ford 1994;
McArthur 1997). Cities are commonly depicted in simple terms of
country versus city, city and loss of innocence, and movement to
country to find happiness (Holtan 1971). Hollywood cinema
perpetuates the myth that cities will inevitably be the destruction
of humanity, which makes it all the more difficult to create and
maintain a livable urban environment. This myth forms the
foundation for noir cities. In Gary Hausladen and Paul Starrs'
essay, the "city as labyrinth" becomes the dominant metaphor for
an impersonal place where dreams are dashed and relationships
fail or become destroyed. Frank Krutnik (1997) suggests that the
cultural politics inherent in noir cities may be traced back to the
Industrial Revolution and Tonnies' distinction between gemein-
schaft and gesellschaft."* Larry Ford (1994, 119) remarks that "cities
have been illuminated in increasingly complex and often contra-
dictory ways in films and that by examining this topic, we may add
an additional layer of understanding to our knowledge of place-
making and place representation."
Christina Dando's essay shows how the cinematic landscape
of Boys Don't Cry encodes the Plains with a frontier metaphor,
a powerful and mythical landscape that sits near the core of
America's national identity. Both Anna Dempsey and Christina
Dando explore Hollywood's dominant patriarchal gaze and how it
engenders the landscape in various ways. Dando exposes the
Cinematic Landscapes 35
gendered binary of nature/nurture/female and male/civilization/
order within the frontier myth and shows how this cultural pohtic
is represented in place, space and social dynamics. Dempsey shows
how the production of feminine metaphors in some independent
films seeks to disrupt the hegemony of Hollywood's patriarchal
scopic regime.
Daniel Arreola's essay about Lone Star explores the cultural
politics of race, ethnicity and power relations embedded in a border
town along the Texas/Mexico boundary A prominent metaphor in
Lone Star relates to menudo (Mexican tripe soup). In the film,
menudo refers to the residential propinquity of racial and ethnic
groups. Arreola shows how landscape identity is not simply about
the material landscape, but rather, identity is continually con-
structed and negotiated by the people in the landscape through
their narratives and history.
Through the process of making a location usable for narrative
film, place is constantly turned into space. Usually this occurs
through the use of landscape as spectacle and metaphor. With
spectacle, landscape jumps to the foreground because it is
spectacular or a spectacle of the view. With landscape as metaphor
cultural politics are made to appear natural. In narrative films,
landscape as spectacle and landscape as metaphor can be used as
transitional phases between sense of place and placelessness. On the
one hand, landscape as spectacle can retain a sense of place and
simultaneously disrupt narrative space. When cinema retains its
sense of place the mise-en-scene spatial meaning remains open to
interpretation. In these instances narrative films may contain a more
realistic representation of a landscape where the viewer can begin to
establish a cognitive map of the social and physical geography.
When landscape functions as a metaphor, spatial meaning is tied
to the narrative's text and thus the viewer's cognitive map is
influenced by the cultural politics embedded in the metaphors.
Cinematic landscapes can also serve more than one function
simultaneously. For instance, both landscape and cinema are
defined through the act of viewing and therefore all cinematic
landscapes at some level function as spectacles.
The cultural politics of cinematic landscapes encompass two
interrelated themes. The first is mimesis or the "the belief that we
should strive to produce as accurate a reflection of the world as
16 Journal of Cultural Ceograp^hy
possible" {Duncan and Ley 1993, 2). According to James Duncan
and David Ley (1993), mimesis strikes to the very core of ontological
debates surrounding cultural geography and the crisis of represen-
tation. They argue that Anglo-American geography is constituted
by four major modes of representation: two that fall under the
mimetic rubric {ethnographic fieldwork and positivism) and two
which challenge mimesis {hermeneutics and postmodernism).
Landscape as place and spectacle both deal with the mimetic belief.
On the other hand landscape as space and metaphor deal with the
cultural politics of diegesis and cultural text. To new cultural
geographers, landscape, nature and cinema are all cultural texts
represented in the built environment, and in writing and audio-
visual representations. Whatever form landscape takes, its
symbolic qualities sustain and enlighten social meaning and,
consequently, have broadened the sources available for cultural
geographers {Cosgrove, 1984, 1987, 1993; Daniels and Cosgrove,
1988; Daniels, 1989).
To simply state that the landscape as place is somehow
qualitatively better than landscape as space is to miss the multi-
layered scales of resolution within cinematic landscapes. Landscape
as space, or placelessness, in film and television can be mapped and
charted; they simply require us to extend our inquiry beyond the
image and into the realm of film production. Film production sites for
landscape as space typically occur where it is cheapest to film. In
general, landscape as place grounds narrative action to location sites
with specific aesthetic qualities, whereas sites for landscape as space
are chosen based on cost effectiveness {Lukinbeal 2004b). The
tensions and dynamics between space and place extend to cinema
as image and as industry. Under cinema's double ontology, there is
a constant dialectic between the economy of production and the
aesthetics of narration. For instance, in an effort to save money the
producers of Cold Mountain (2003) chose to construct a North
Carolina sense of place in Romania. In this example, economy
outweighs aesthetics and cinematic space becomes placeless.
To assume landscape as place is somehow more realistic and
thus a more accurate representation of reality is to ignore the fact
the realism is an aesthetic tool that tries to make a narrative more
real to the viewer. This aesthetic tool allows viewers to suspend
their disbelief and cross the threshold into representational space.
Realism refers to a representational practice that attempts to hide
its mode of productionits labor and technologyenabling the
representation of reality. Realism is therefore an aesthetic issue
Cinematic Landscapes 17
focusing on the relationship between what is depicted in the mise-en-
scene and how the viewer receives that depiction (Kerr 1986).
Because of this, realism is also ideological because it seeks to hide
and naturalizes the production process. Elsewhere I argue that
suspension of disbelief is a spatial issue in that an individual seeks
to disregard the difference between what is real and reel {Lukinbeal
1998). Cinematic realism seeks to strengthen this disregard by
ontologically bridging the divide between real and reel. As long
as suspension of disbelief is maintained the viewer's attention is
on the narrative and not on the physical landscape. Suspension of
disbelief is destroyed when geographic realism is not maintained.
In effect, the viewer figures out that the narrative is lying, that the
landscape is not really the location being depicted. Geographers
can cite a multitude of these crimes against geography: from
Southern California hillsides doubling for Korea in the tele-
vision show M.A.S.H; the English Patient (1996) using Tunisia to
represent 1930s Cairo, Egypt; or 40 Days and 40 Nights {2002) pro-
jecting Vancouver to represent San Francisco. A narrative retains
its geographic validity and realism and is only guilty of lying
if the viewer realizes that the ontological bridge has been de-
stroyed. Consequently, narrative is the dominant and con-
trolling factor of Hollywood's cinematic landscape and the only
thing that trumps narrative is economics. The process of doubling,
or using one location to substitute for another, is a common film
production practice done to save money and keep a production
on budget.
Where the metaphor of landscape as text helps us to explore
narration and cultural text, landscape as theatre exposes the interplay
between diegesis and mimesis, image and industry. Theatre, text,
image, industry, event and narrative all come together in cinematic
landscapes. Whether the emotional landscapes of cinematic memo-
ries, the downtown marquee of a dying cinema, the filmed locations
in our neighborhoods, or the globalized spectacle of Hollywood,
cinematic landscapes are not mere representations but are working
landscapes involved with cultural production and reproduction.
Cinematic landscapes include the world of film production {Lukin-
beal 2002, 2004b), distribution (Scott 2004) and consumption
(Jancovich, Faire and Stubbings 2003; Forsher 2003). In the global
cinematic landscape Toronto is the other New York City for
Hollywood's scopic regime and the Alps are the other Kashmir in
Bollywood. Cinematic landscape extends far behind the silver screen
to intersect how we narrate our identities in our landscapes and
18 Journal of Cultural Geography
how we define the extent of ourselves within a global cine-
matic community.
1. Mise-en-scene, from the French "putting in the scene," refers to
the modification of space, or the arrangemei^t of performers and items
within the visual field of the caniera. Mise-en-scene is the space framed by
the camera's visual field that the spectator witnesses when watching
a movie.
2. For instance see the Library of Congress' archive for The Life of
a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906 at
3. Second unit production is where a camera crew goes to a location
to film the master shot and other locational scenery. Second unit shooting
can also take the form of "guerilla filming" or "drive-by shooting." In
these cases a filmmaker does not obtain permission from the location film
commission to shoot at a location.
4. Ferdinand Tonnies (1957) made the basic distinction between two
social groups: gemeinschaft and gesellschaft. Gemeinschaft, often trans-
lated as "community/' referred to traditional agrarian environments
characterized by tight knit social relations based around family and kin.
Gesellschaft, often translated as "society," referred to urbanized environ-
ments characterized by individualism, anomie and loose-knit relations
between people.
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Chris Lukinbeal is Assistant Professor of Geogr aphy at Ari zona
State University, Tempe, AZ 85287.

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