Tag Archives: history

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:

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 323 – The Last Duel

Listen on the players above, Apple PodcastsAudible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Don’t believe the trailer, which gives a poor impression of what’s in store: Ridley Scott’s latest historical epic is lighter on the action than you’d expect, and, for a blockbuster, formally adventurous. Based on true events that took place in 14th century France, The Last Duel tells the story of a lifelong feud and a sexual assault… then it tells it again, and then once more. Three perspectives are brought to bear on the events, those of Jean (Matt Damon), a soldier and vassal; Marguerite (Jodie Comer), his wife and the daughter of a treacherous lord; and Jacques (Adam Driver), his oldest friend, and squire to a count – each controls a third of the film, shaping the story as they understand it. It’s an ambitious project, drawing consciously on narratives and discourses around patriarchy and sexual assault whose importance to our cultural conversation have become increasingly established in recent years – but does it work?

Richard Brody’s review of the film in the New Yorker helps to shape our discussion, and can be found here: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/the-last-duel-reviewed-ridley-scotts-wannabe-metoo-movie

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Hou Hsiao-hsien 7: A Time To Live and a Time to Die


We continue our discussion of the work of Hou Hsiao-hsien, this time with a focus on The Time to Live and The Time to Die, the second in his cycle of autobiographical films after The Boys from Fenkuei.

In the podcast below, we discuss what is depth in this film and talk about Hou’s consideration of ‘traces ‘in the surfaces of his films, how depth is often inextricable from surface in his work. We note the structuring of this film, a bildungsroman, around a series of deaths. We talk of how often the key narrative points are obscured, and make sense only in the connections the viewers can make subsequently; how Hou often films in fixed positions, so we return to the same scene but across time, and we think about how this might affect all those spaces without faces, the anticipatory space, and the remains after characters have left the scene. We also explore the dual perspective in the film, the filmmaker’s and the protagonist’s, often intersecting, rarely interchangeable. We mention how Hou narrates the beginning of the film and how the drama is filmed in the real places and spaces he grew up in, and the effect of dramatising fictionally, on our speculation of the effects of spaces across time in this narrative….and much more. The podcast can be listened to below:

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546


José did a supercut of places without faces in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A Time to Live and a Time to Die‘(with added atmosphere by Duke Ellington) that is referred to in the podcast and can be seen below:


The clip of the conversation between mother and daughter referred to in the podcast can be seen here:


José also did a trailer for the film, which may be found here:


Richard has provided the following links:

A fascinating review raising many of the same points we do, and many others:

The source of the “17 fixed camera positions” quote – http://thecinemaarchives.com/2019/07/31/a-time-to-live-and-a-time-to-die-1985-hsiao-hsien-hou/

and he adds an extended interview with Hou Hsiao-hsien and Chu T’ien-wen. Time to Live is not mentioned but they talk about how he became a filmmaker and also the birth of the New Taiwanese Cinema:

A PDF of the Hou Interview:


-Another interesting article, with a focus on the shooting style http://www.reverseshot.org/symposiums/entry/601/time_live_and_time_die

-A good overview of the autobiographical and historical context, and the source of the quote about the ending (“The making of the movie is the happy ending the film itself so crushingly lacks, if a happy ending is even possible.”


The Time to Live and The Time to Die  was one of Derek Malcolm’s 100 greatest films in a series he did in 2000. He talks about how comparatively little known Hou was in the UK at that point, and also was the initial source for the discussion on the title https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2000/aug/03/artsfeatures1


and here’s the Air France commercial Richard mentions https://vimeo.com/24194114

More Reviews (from Wiki):

  1.  “Review: ‘Tongnian WangshiVariety. December 31, 1984. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  2. ^ Malcolm, Derek. “Hou Hsiao-hsien: The Time to Live and the Time to Die”The Guardian. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  3. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2013). “A Time to Live and a Time to Die”Chicago Reader. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  4. ^ Andrew, Geoff. “The Time to Live and the Time to Die”Time Out London. Retrieved February 23, 2015.

— The beginnings of Josés Scholarly Bibliography on Hou which we will add to after every episode:


Andres, Nigel, ‘A Camera Trained on Eternal Truths, Financial Times,  London: 07 June 2005: 13.

Assayas, Olivier, Modern Time, Film Comment; Jan/Feb 2008; 44, p. 48

David Scott Diffrient’s, ‘The Sandwich Man: History, episodicity and serial conditioning in a Taiwanese omnibus film’, Asian Cinema, vol 25, no., pp. 71-92,

Cheshire, Godgrey, ‘Time span: The cinema of Hou Hsio-hsien’, Film Comment; Nov 1993;29, 6, pg. 56.

Ellickson , Lee and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Preparing to Live in the Present; An interview with Hou Hsiao-hsien, Cineaste, Fall 2002, vol 27, no. 4 (Fall 2002), pp. 13-19


Hastie, Amelie, ‘Watching Carefully: Hou Hsiao-Hsien and His Audience’, Film Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 3 (Spring 2016), pp. 72-78

Kenigsberg, Ben . ‘Looking for an Introduction to Taiwan’s Greatest Filmmaker? Start Here’. New York Times (Online) , New York: New York Times Company. May 28, 2020.

Lupke, Christopher (The Sinophone Cinea of Hou Shiao-hsien: Culture, Stuyle, Voice and Motion, amherst: Cambria Press.

Rayns, Tony, Esprit de corp, Film Comment; Nov. Dec. 2007, 43, 6, p. 14

Rayns, Tony, ‘Tongnian Wangshi (The Time To Live and The Tine to Die), Monthly Film Bulletin; Jun 1, 1988; 55, 653

Stanbrook, Alan, The Worlds of Hou Hsiao-hsien’, Sight and Sound, Spring 1990; 59, 2, Rayns, Tony, ‘Auteur in the Making’, Sight and Sound; July 2016;26, 9; p. 98

Sklar, Robert, ‘Hidden History, Modern Hedeonism; The films of Hou Hsia-hsien’,  Cineaste, Fall 2002; 27, 4, pg. 11.

Udden, James, ‘Taiwanese Popular Cinema and the Strage Apprenticeship of Hou Hsiao-hsien, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Spring, 2003, vol. 15, no. Special Issue on Taiwan Film Spring, 2003), pp. 120-145.

Xia Cai, Chapter 1: Hou Hisao-Hsien Films and Readings, The Ethics of Witness: Dailiness and History in Hou Hsia-hsien’s Films, Springer: Singapore, 2019, pp. 1-3

Yueh-yu, Yeh. Post Script – Essays in Film and the Humanities; Commerce, Tex, Vol 20, Iss 2-3 (Winter 2000) 61-76.

Yip, June, \the Oxford History of World Cinema, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith ed. New York, United States, Oxford University Press, 1996)


Wen, Tien-Hsiang (trans by GAN Sheuo Hui), ‘Hou Hsiao-Hsien: a standard for evaluating Taiwan’s cinema), Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, vol 9, number 2, 2008.