Representation of Oxford as a Cinematic city

If one looks to Oxford’s tourism locations one finds a particular focus on the older buildings and locations (, 2015). Compare this to London, which has so much of itself represented in film. From Johnny English (Johnny English, 2003) to Shaun of the Dead (Shaun of the Dead, 2004) so much of the city represented as opposed a concentration on heritage buildings, which is the case for Oxford.  This can be attributed to how the city has been represented in media such as cinema and television through films such as Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005) and Downton Abbey (Downton Abbey, 2010). Both series make use of the cities heritage structures and as a result that has become the primary tourist attraction along with the University and Colleges. The tourist guides promote these old buildings but they also neglect other elements of the city “Certain key features are captured and promoted, others are disdained or renarrativized, in order that a more desirable sense of self/place may emerge.” (, n.d.). This creates an imposing facade that smothers the entirety of the city under it’s umbrella and thus has become the ruling preconception of the city and the inhabitants who live in its shadow. To paraphrase Giuliana Bruna (Clarke,1997) Oxford’s filmic image is a result of outside eyes choosing what to glamourise, which in turn drew the tourist’s gaze. This process is akin to the Ouroboros eternally consuming it’s own tail. Tourists will continually be drawn by the historic buildings and thus the media will continue to promote these elements. This appears to be reflected in the thoughts on the city’s inhabitants and how the perceptions of the city have impacted their daily lives:

In conclusion the city of Oxford is primarily a city thats cinematic quality has been defined by it’s history. While it does not posses the breadth of representation as cities like London, Paris and New York. it still posses a unique cinematic quality that has defined it throughout the years and will continue to do so.

Bibliography, (n.d.). Introduction: An Arguement for the Cinematic City. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2015].

Clarke, D. (1997). The cinematic city. London: Routledge.

Downton Abbey, (2010). [TV programme] ITV: ITV.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (2005). [film] UK: Mike Newell.

Johnny English. (2003). [film] UK: Peter Howitt.

Shaun of the Dead. (2004). [film] UK: Edgar Wright.


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