Tag Archives: Gravity

Andrew Kingston — ‘Filmic Space and its Applications’

Video Essay:

Creator’s Statement:

This video essay demonstrates how a filmic space can be utilised to create a historical time stamp. In the video I primarily analyse Adam and Paul (Lenny Abrahamson, 2004) and Rosie (Paddy Breathnach, 2018) and examine the differences between their spatial constructions. I observe the characters’ relationships with the filmic space and the construction of it in relation to framing, setting of real locations, alternative domestic spaces and public vs private image. The spatial construction in both films outlines how the characters are perceived by society and how they interact with their environment based on their living circumstances. When comparing these two spatial representations together, it exemplifies how the issue of homelessness on screen has developed in correlation with the escalation of the problem in reality.


Initially when I started to explore this topic, I wanted to primarily focus on how space is used in Adam and Paul to reflect the characters’ relationship with the city. When researching the topic however, I began to consider the various methodologies for applying space in film. For example, when reading Martine Huvenne’s article ‘Editing as an Audio-Visual Composition’[1] on Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2014), it allowed me to understand how sound and editing become the space in that film. This was an important factor in helping my understanding of filmic space as a whole during my early research. At this time, I considered and edited extra footage on sound and editing as spatial representations. In the end, I decided to omit this from the final video footage, but it was a necessary part of the researching process. (See link below).



Conn Holohan’s Cinema on the Periphery, was a key element of my research and strongly influenced the final video. In this book, he states a quote from Edward Soja, ‘The geography and history of capitalism intersect in a complex social process which creates a constantly evolving historical sequence of spatialities, a spatio-temporal structuration of social life’.[2] From here, I recognised how the geographic location and the historical period of a filmic space are directly relevant to its social and ideological context. How real locations in film are reflections of this intersection between historical and geographical contexts and social-economic standings.

This shot from Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945) (fig.1) was the first film that I considered in analysing space as a visual time stamp. By considering this in relation to its spatio-temporal structure, I was able to recognise how Adam & Paul utilises the same methodologies in fig.2. Though social and economic backgrounds are vastly different, the spatial communication displays the city at a moment in time, thus creating this geographic and historical intersection that Soja was referring to.

The opening of the video essay outlines some of the different methods of applying space and how it can be utilised to serve both character and narrative. I demonstrate how multiple scenes are communicated to the audience based on their spatial constructions. I relate these scenes to Éric Rohmer’s theory of three types of space in film: Pictorial, Architectonical and Filmic.[3] This premise lays the groundwork for defining space in cinema and by doing so reinforces my analysis for the rest of this video essay.


The majority of the video essay examines how both Lenny Abrahamson and Paddy Breathnach utilise space to reflect the same issue of homelessness at separate periods of Ireland’s economic history. I look at how the space is presented in Adam and Paul and how it is analysed by scholars such as Conn Holohan[4] and Barry Monahan[5]. I compare this to how the space in Rosie (Paddy Breathnach, 2018) is presented and how it is analysed by Peter Bradhsaw[6] and I outline the reasonings for these differences in relation to Ireland’s economic standpoint at the time of each film’s release. By placing the films within their respective economic periods, I explore the reasoning for the spatial construction of each film. The characters and the writing of each film are the premise for representing the growing issue of homelessness in Ireland, but the spatial constructions are the methods of translating that representation to screen, doing so by exemplifying how the characters are perceived by the rest of the country, how they interact with their environment based on these perceptions and how that perception has shifted between the 14 years of their releases. It also examines how an alternative domestic space is created in both scenarios.


I finally solidify my argument, that it is in fact the spatial construction that creates this perception of the characters as opposed to the writing by going to the James Joyce Bridge in Dublin City Centre and recreating one of the scenes from Adam & Paul. By visiting the real location of the film, it enabled me to demonstrate how the framing and setting of the scene captures the characters’ relationship with the functioning city around them. By keeping every other aspect of the scene as similar as I can, (allowing for the differences in time of year, night vs day and professionalism of the production) I outline how the framing of the characters tells the story of how they are perceived by the city. By recreating this scene and shifting the angle of the camera I reinforce what is being communicated by each shift. Going to the real location was an exciting mode of research, which I felt was crucial, in order to finalise my argument.

— Andrew Kingston




  1. Annette Kuhn and Guy Westwell, ‘Filmic Space – A Typology’ in A Dictionary of Film Studies, Osford University Press, 2012


  1. Conn Holohan, ‘The City Space’ in Cinema on the Periphery: Contemporary Irish and Spanish Cinema Rosa González (Irish Academic Press, 2010)


  1. Marine Huvenne, ‘Editing Space as an Audio-Visual Composition’, in Film Text Analysis, 1st Edition, Routledge, 2016.


  1. Monahan, Barry, ’Adam and Paul’, Estudios Irlandeses, University College Cork, 2005


  1. Patrice Rollet, ’The Filmic Space According to Farber’, in Negative Space. Manny Farber on the Movies. Expanded Edition. New York. Da Capo Press. 1998


  1. Patrick Keiller, ‘Film as Spatial Critique’ in The View From the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes (London: Verso, 2013)


  1. Peter Bradshaw, ’Rosie review – the heartbreak of homelessness’, The Guardian, 2019


  1. ‘Rosie’ in Sight & Sound. Derek O’Connor. Vol.29 Issue 4. April, 2019


  1. Seán Crosson, Mark Schreiber, ‘Q&A with Lenny Abrahamson and Mark O’Halloran’, Contemporary Irish Film: New Perspectives on a National Cinema, Seán Crosson and Werner Huber. Volume 102. 2011





  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick. 1967. Stanley Kubrick Productions.


  1. Adam and Paul. Leonard Abrahamson. 2004. Element Pictures.


  1. James Cameron. 2009. 20th Century Studios.


  1. Boiling Point. Philip Barantini. 2021. Vertigo Films.


  1. City of God. Kátia Lund, Fernando Meirelles. O2 Filmes.


  1. Alfonso Cuarón. 2013. Heyday Films.


  1. The Two Popes. Fernando Meirelles. 2019. Rideback.


  1. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels. Chantal Akerman. 1975. Paradise Films.


  1. La La Land. Damien Chazelle. 2016. Summit Entertainment.


  1. Modern Times. Charlie Chaplin. 1936. United Artists.


  1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Céline Sciamma. 2019. Lilies Films.


  1. Brad Bird. 2007. Walt Disney Pictures.


  1. Rome Open City. Roberto Rossellini. Minerva Film.


  1. Paddy Breathnach. 2018. Element Pictures.


  1. Safety Last. Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor. 1923. Hal Roach Studios.


  1. Steamboat Bill Jr. Charles Reisner. 1928. United Artists.





[1] Marine Huvenne, ‘Editing Space as an Audio-Visual Composition’, in Film Text Analysis, 1st Edition, Routledge, 2016.


[2] Conn Holohan, ‘The City Space’, in Cinema on the Periphery: Contemporary Irish and Spanish Cinema fd. Rosa González Irish Academic Press, 2010


[3] Patrice Rollet, ’The Filmic Space According to Farber’, in Negative Space. Manny Farber on the Movies. Expanded Edition. New York. Da Capo Press. 1998


[4] Conn Holohan, ‘The City Space’ in Cinema on the Periphery: Contemporary Irish and Spanish Cinema fd. Rosa González (Irish Academic Press, 2010)


[5] Monahan, Barry, ’Adam and Paul’, Estudios Irlandeses, University College Cork, 2005


[6] Peter Bradshaw, ’Rosie review – the heartbreak of homelessness’, The Guardian, 2019



The video essay may also be seen on You Tube here:

…and bonus footage may be seen here:

Britishness at the BAFTAS

Britishness seemed to be main motif in BBC’s broadcast of the BAFTAS Sunday evening. When host Stephen Fry mentioned that the event was the highlight of the British Film Calendar, he backtracked as he heard what he was saying and asked: Is there such a thing as a British Film Calendar?

He did well to ask because the constellation of stars he took great trouble to show off — Leonardo Di Caprio, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Tom Hanks – is no different than what we’d expect to see at the Oscars, though at the Oscars one wouldn’t have had to rely on Twitter to learn that Brad Pitt and Angelina wore matching Yves St. Laurent tuxedos, Lily Allen was in Vivienne Westwood, Amy Adams wore Victoria Beckham and Cate Blanchett wore McQueen – there would have been a whole series of programmes right up to the start of the broadcast breathlessly recounting every aspect in great details and using the very latest technological developments to broadcast every stitch to an eager public and garner worldwide unpaid publicity for the giant fashion houses. But as Oprah Winfrey said before the show started, ‘this (the Baftas) is not about glitz and glamour’.

But what are the BAFTAS about? What are they for? Presumably it’s to honour, celebrate and promote British Cinema. But one really wouldn’t have known that from the nominees of Best Film (12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena), Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón, Paul Greengrass, Steve McQueen, David O. Russell, Martin Scorcese) Best Actor (Christian Bale, Bruce Dern Leonardo DiCaprio, Chiwetel Ejifor, Tom Hanks) or even Best Actress (Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson). Indeed when the first award of the evening was announced and Gravity won for Best British Film, the twittersphere went into a frenzy of speculation as to what was British about it with Droo Padhiar of Peccadillo pictures insisting ‘It is NOT a British film. It is NOT a British film. It is NOT a British Film’. Three times. Just in case one didn’t get the message.

Of course, one need not get too purist about these things. If the nominations don’t necessarily reflect a particular definition of British cinema, one which would probably run something along the lines of: films predominantly financed in Britain, about British stories, with a predominantly British cast and crew (Philomena, The Selfish Giant would be unproblematic examples), they do reflect British film culture: the films celebrated are the films that have entertained, delighted and informed us here, be they British or not. Moreover, later in the show when Cuarón returned to the stage to collect his award for Best Director and had presumably been made aware of the brouhaha over Gravity’s win for Best British Film he said, softly but pointedly: ‘I consider myself part of the British Film Industry. I’ve lived here for 13 years and made about half my films here. I guess I make a good case for the curbing of immigration.’ Yet, at the end of his speech, the cinematic culture Cuarón feels a part of was made clear and partly contradicted his earlier statement when he thanked Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Iñárritu, Mexican compadres and current colleagues in the higher reaches of global cinema. ‘I wouldn’t order breakfast before consulting them first,’ he said.

The Britishness of the BAFTAS was visible at oblique angles and at ‘special’ moments; thus the event was hosted at the Royal Opera House in London, one won the ‘Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film’, or the ‘David Lean Award for Outstanding Direction’. The Britishness was also evident in the special awards presented. Thus we had the pleasure of seeing Juliet Stevenson, still truly, madly and deeply dazzling with her looks and her eloquence praise Peter Greenway as a visionary who challenged existing cinematic forms and pushed the boundaries of where cinema and painting meet, and to award him the ‘Michael Balcoln Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema’. Greenaway  graciously expressed his surprise and commented on the changes in contemporary cinema: It’s not the same as the cinema of our fathers and forefathers. Cinema has to be continuously reinvented.’ Tellingly, the person he singled out for thanks was his Dutch producer Kees Kasander who he said somehow always managed to put together the money for the British director to realise his singular works (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Prospero’s Books, etc). Such is filmmaking today.

A concern with Britishness and the forms of its articulation continued as  a recurring motif. Earlier in the show, after Stephen Fry introduced her as a ‘ghastly piece of shrieking, stinking offal, Emma Thomson replied, ‘Is it me or being British that makes being referred to as stinking offal …makes me feel so much better about myself.’ The finale of the evening was when HRH The Duke of Cambridge in his role as President of BAFTA introduced Jeremy Irons to really bring out the pomp and ceremony and recount the highlights Helen Mirren’s career. Accepting the award for her Fellowship of the BAFTAS, Mirren first thanked her old teacher, Alice Welding, who recently died at the age of 102 for having inspired her to desire to live in a world of literature and poetry; and then finished off her acceptance speech with a dazzling oration that invoked both acting and Albion, the ‘stuff that dreams are made on’ speech from The Temptest:

Our revels are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And like baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-cappe’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all of which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

is rounded with a sleep

It was a rather theatrical and very British end to a BAFTAS that saw 12 Years a Slave, a film which had Channel Four money, a British director and a large British cast, win Best Film but Gravity with its American money and cast and its Mexican director win Best British film. Chiwetel Ejiofor, black and British, won Best Actor. Oh and The Great Beauty the winner of Best Foreign Film didn’t even make it to the broadcast and was put in the little ‘These awards were handed out earlier’ addendum after the end of the main programme. The Britishness of these BAFTAS seems to be defined by placing America at the centre, various articulations of Britishness on the margins or ‘specialised’ categories, and Europeans out of the picture.

José Arroyo

A shorter version of this was published in the conversation as  https://theconversation.com/baffled-baftas-dont-know-how-to-be-british-23162