Oxford City Interviews

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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 (Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, 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.” (Ashgate.com, 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

Ashgate.com, (n.d.). Introduction: An Arguement for the Cinematic City. [online] Available at: https://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Tourism_and_the_Branded_City_Intro.pdf [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.

Oxford’s Cinematic history

At the beginning of this module we were given a topic that expressed the relationship between the city and the media, and the choice of city, which would be used as reference for said topic. My group was given the cinematic city as our topic and we chose the city of Oxford as the basis for our analysis. At the beginning we concentrated on finding films (or at least notable scenes) that were filmed in the city. We also assigned each other various tasks to cover. I was assigned to collect a list of films and/or scenes, which were shot in Oxford.

A number of films are listed as having been filmed (or least some scenes) in the city of Oxford, these include: Children of Men, A Fish Called Wanda, Greystoke, The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, Octopussy and etc(Movie-locations.com, 2015).

Among the various titles that emerged one in particular stood out from the rest was the Harry Potter franchise. Oxford’s historic buildings and architecture lent themselves well to the aesthetic themes of the Harry Potter series. This has made the city a hotspot for tourism for fans of the franchise looking to discover where the various scenes of the film were shot. This not just limited to film as the series Inspector Morse and Downton Abbey are also highlighted to attract tourism.

This gives me the impression that the city of Oxford is one that is primarily represented by it’s heritage buildings. The city’s tourist guide system appears to support this through what filming locations they advertise to potential consumers. For example these screenshots from a tourist website(Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, 2015):

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.31.33

Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005)

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.35.55

Downton Abbey (Downton Abbey, 2010)

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.36.23

Bibliography

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

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

Movie-locations.com, (2015). Films made in Oxfordshire. [online] Available at: http://www.movie-locations.com/places/uk/oxford.html#.VPmhHGRHB8M [Accessed 6 Mar. 2015].

Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, (2015). Discover Oxford and Oxfordshire. [online] Available at: http://www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2015].

Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, (2015). Downton Abbey. [online] Available at: http://www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/see-and-do/downton_abbey.aspx [Accessed 6 Mar. 2015].

Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, (2015). Harry Potter. [online] Available at: http://www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/see-and-do/harry_potter.aspx [Accessed 6 Mar. 2015].

Oxford the Cinematic City (Pre-trip)

At the beginning of this module we were given a topic that expressed the relationship between the city and the media, and the choice of city, which would be used as reference for said topic. My group was given the cinematic city as our topic and we chose the city of Oxford as the basis for our analysis. At the beginning we concentrated on finding films (or at least notable scenes) that were filmed in the city. We also assigned each other various tasks to cover. I was assigned to collect a list of films and/or scenes, which were shot in Oxford.

Among the various titles that emerged one in particular stood out from the rest was the Harry Potter franchise. Oxford’s historic buildings and architecture lent themselves well to the aesthetic themes of the Harry Potter series. This has made the city a hotspot for tourism for fans of the franchise looking to discover where the various scenes of the film were shot. This PDF file provides a quick summary of the locations for tours http://www.locationoxfordshire.co.uk/docs/Trails-HarryPotter.pdf.

However while Oxford is very much a cinematic city if one compares it to the likes London and New York, notice a key difference in how the cities are presented. London for example has a number of its elements presented when one asks the question of what comes to mind when one mentions it. From the landmarks like Big Ben and Tower bridge to the History of the Blitz and the Industrial Revolution. In London serves as the setting for many films both within the landmarks spectacle and beyond

If one looks to Oxford’s tourism locations one finds a particular focus on the older buildings and locations (Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, 2015). This can be attributed to how the city has been represented in media such as cinema “Certain key features are captured and promoted, others are disdained or renarrativized, in order that a more desirable sense of self/place may emerge.” (Ashgate.com, 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  In the case of Oxford the university and its historical buildings are the focal points for it’s representation. This can be seen with it’s tourist trade, which places heavy emphasis on the various colleges within the city. 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 consuming it’s own tail eternally over a over again.

Bibliography

Ashgate.com, (n.d.). Introduction: An Arguement for the Cinematic City. [online] Available at: https://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Tourism_and_the_Branded_City_Intro.pdf [Accessed 5 Mar. 2015].

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

locationoxfordshire.co.uk, (n.d.). The Harry Potter Trail. [online] Available at: http://www.locationoxfordshire.co.uk/docs/Trails-HarryPotter.pdf [Accessed 5 Mar. 2015].

Visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com, (2015). Attractions in Oxford and Oxfordshire county, England. [online] Available at: http://www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/see-and-do/Attractions.aspx [Accessed 5 Mar. 2015].