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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access February 20, 2020

Questions of Space in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema

Stephen Trinder EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


Spatial fixing was an integral part of maintaining imperial power structures throughout the colonial period, and like other discourses, it later found itself reproduced in cinema. As such, the physical and mental use of space has become key to the dissemination of ideological messages in many films. Confronting this tendency, this study applies theories of postcolonialism to selected examples of contemporary Hollywood film to examine how far it reconstructs traditional binaries of space. This investigation finds that despite attempts to disseminate more culturally sensitive and globally-minded portrayals of the Other, space remains particularly problematic. It also remains vital to storytelling narratives of race, gender, class and society in consideration of the film cases analysed in this study. While Fanonian notions of space continue to permeate cinema—with Total Recall and Avatar in particular drawing upon stereotypical motifs, it is possible to observe developments upon these discourses. Elysium and District 9 exemplify this, with each feature employing space to address increased questioning of US cultural superiority since the failed Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and the 2008 global economic crash.


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Received: 2018-12-11
Accepted: 2019-12-17
Published Online: 2020-02-20

© 2020 Stephen Trinder, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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