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TitleDeleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts
ISBN 139780748626625
CategoryArts - Film
File Size1010.3 KB
Total Pages257
Table of Contents
Part I Deleuze and Narrative Time
CHAPTER 1 History
CHAPTER 2 Memory
Part II Movement-/Time-Image Films
CHAPTER 3 National Identity in the Global City
CHAPTER 4 American Triumphalism and the First Gulf War
CHAPTER 5 Renegotiating the National Past after 9/11
CHAPTER 6 The Pacific Rim
Conclusion: Blind Chance and Possible Futures
Select Bibliography
Select Filmography
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity challenges
the traditional use of Deleuze’s philosophy to
examine European art cinema. It explores how
Deleuze can be used to analyse national identity
across a range of different cinemas. Focusing
on narrative time it combines a Deleuzean
approach with a vast range of non-traditional
material. The films discussed are contemporary
and popular (either financial or cult successes),
and include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
Terminator 3, Memento, Saving Private Ryan, Run
Lola Run, Sliding Doors, Chaos and Peppermint
Candy. Each film is examined in light of a major
historical event – including 9/11, German
reunification, and the Asian economic crisis –
and the impact it has had on individual nations.
This cross-cultural approach illustrates how
Deleuze’s work can enhance our understanding
of the construction of national identity. It also
enables a critique of Deleuze’s conclusions
by examining his work in a variety of national

The book significantly broadens the field of
work on Deleuze and cinema. It places equal
emphasis on understanding mainstream North
American genre films, American independent
and European art films. It also examines Asian
thrillers, gangster and art films in the light of
Deleuze’s work on time. With Asian films
increasingly crossing over into western markets,
this is a timely addition to the expanding body of
work on Deleuze and film.

Key features:

• The first sustained analysis of Deleuze and
national identity, bringing together film
theory and film history.

• Examines how narrative time is used to
construct national identity across a range
of different cinemas, including Britain,
Germany, North America, Hong Kong,
Japan, South Korea, Italy and Poland.

• Uses Deleuze in conjunction with a number
of different types of recent film, from
Hollywood blockbusters to Asian gangster

‘David Martin-Jones’ Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity is one of the standout books
of the year. Martin-Jones provides a profound and original reassessment of Gilles
Deleuze’s own concepts of style and history in modern cinema. At the same time, the
book goes beyond Deleuze, indeed displaces his thought onto new territories. With
his engaging and deeply thoughtful analyses of mixtures of movement and time in
contemporary world cinema, Martin-Jones takes us beyond movement and time-images
towards something like a new genre-hybrid global cinemas where questions of national
identity are deterritorialised within and across borders and cultures. This is a
remarkable book.’

Professor David Rodowick, Harvard University

‘Martin-Jones combines theoretical insights with a profound knowledge of various
national cinemas and sharp analytical observations. His reading of a challengingly
wide selection of contemporary films as Deleuzian time-images “caught in the act”
of becoming movement-images in relation to national identity offers a convincing
and important contribution to film studies and to Deleuzian scholarship.’

Patricia Pisters, University of Amsterdam

‘Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity is a study of national cinema as archaeology,
lucidly and accessibly examining recent international cinema through Deleuze’s
cinematic philosophy. Drawing attention to the sometimes neglected but analytically
productive categories of the movement-image, David Martin-Jones demonstrates that
movement-image and time-image cinema, far from being discrete categories, de- and
re-territorialize one another in a single film. At a moment when temporal discontinuity
is fashionable in both independent and industrial cinema, Martin-Jones usefully
distinguishes between films whose indeterminacy is ultimately only apparent, and those
that creatively exploit the disunity of identity over time. In turn he shows how these
works tend to either reinforce triumphalist national – and transnational – myths, or to
“critique the pedagogical time of the nation”.’

Laura Marks, Simon Fraser University

Cover design: River Design, Edinburgh

Film still: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Focus
Features / The Kobal Collection / Lee, David

Edinburgh University Press
22 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LF

ISBN 0 7486 2244 6

David Martin-Jones is Lecturer in Film Studies
at the University of St Andrews. He is on the
editorial board of the international salon-journal
Film-Philosophy. His research focuses on
questions of national identity, primarily using
Deleuze, but also by examining representations
of Scotland, and various Asian Cinemas.

barcode E

Deleuze, Cinema and
National Identity
Narrative Time in National Contexts

David Martin-Jones

Deleuze, Cinema and
National Identity
David Martin-Jones












Page 2

Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity

Page 128

view of Britain (as a number of united regions that gravitate towards the
English centre) that was propagated by their rhetoric of ‘Cool Britannia’.
This is seen most obviously in the regional cast of characters, and partic-
ularly in the romance between Anglicised-Scot, James (witness his rowing
on the Thames and incessant quoting of Monty Python), and ‘English’
Helen. Like Notting Hill, Sliding Doors also excludes the postcolonial
other, those primarily Afro-Caribbean, African and Asian diasporas most
commonly found in the low-wage jobs that brunette Helen performs.
Thus, in the face of the various ungrounding histories that reemerged with
devolution and the postcolonial era, the film retains an image of a unified
Britain whose major transformation, it suggests, has been brought about
by the impact of globalisation.

Paradoxically, at the centre of Britain is an absent England, whose iden-
tity (we see in American star Paltrow) has been made-over with American
finance. Yet this made-over England still maintains an ‘English’ identity
through its continuation of certain Anglo-centric, British cinematic trad-
itions. Firstly Paltrow’s plummy Home Counties accent evokes the use of
this particular region of England to represent the totality of Britain during
the First World War.64 Moreover, its upbeat representation of London res-
onates with famous images of swinging 1960s London, a cultural origin
that itself relates back to a Victorian conception of imperial Britain. It is
not surprising, then, that Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me – a film
which drew upon exactly this nostalgic, Anglo-centric vision of Britain –
appeared only two years later in 1999. As Michael Gardiner puts it: ‘In
popular culture, Cool Britannia connoted a high Britishness of familiarly
1960s, and (therefore) neo-Victorian charm.’65 Again, as in Run Lola Run,
the continuation of national identity is evoked by the continuation of pre-
vious cinematic conceptualisations of the nation. A similar effect is
achieved by Hugh Grant’s performance of Englishness in Notting Hill. His
stereotypically bumbling, neo-Victorian Englishman is most obviously
undermined by the physical reality of his much-publicised liaison with
Divine Brown in 1995. ‘Essential’ Englishness, then, has been eradicated
by the seductive ‘glamour’ (in Paltrow/Helen’s case) or indeed, notorious
celebrity in Grant’s, of America. Yet it is still performed, as a mannered
attitude in British cinema.

In fact, Sliding Door’s use of England as a structuring absence actually
aids its disavowal of the break up of Britain. As both Tom Nairn and
Gardiner point out, after devolution it is England that has the most to lose
(specifically its position at the heart of Britain) by officially redefining itself
as an independent nation.66 Thus it refuses to give up its Anglo-centric view
of Britain in these global city films. Instead, Sliding Doors literally gives

      117

Page 129

England’s voice to an American representative, to shift the focus from local
considerations to more global ones. In this way the film retains an aspect of
its previous imperial definition (of a regional state that pulls towards the
centre) but also represents this centre as having been made-over by
American finance. The fact that this ‘elsewhere’ at the heart of the Britain
is both global and local, retains continuity with previous definitions of
Britishness created when England was the centre of an international
empire. The different, potentially deterritorialising, labyrinthine pasts
submerged by the imperial British past (be they postcolonial or post-
devolutionary), remain pointedly absent.


1. David Bordwell, ‘Film futures’, Substance: A Review of Theory and Literary
Criticism, Issue 97, 31:1 (2002), pp. 88–104.

2. Ibid. p. 89.
3. Ibid. p. 90.
4. Ibid. p. 90.
5. Ibid. p. 91.
6. Ibid. pp. 92–103.
7. Ibid. pp. 96–7.
8. Frank Krutnik, ‘Something more than night’, in David B. Clarke (ed.), The

Cinematic City (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 83–109.
9. David Bordwell, ‘Art cinema as mode of film practice’, Film Criticism, 4:1

(1979), pp. 56–64.
10. Steve Neale, ‘Art cinema as institution’, Screen, 22:1 (1981), pp. 11–39.
11. See, amongst others, Moya Luckett, ‘Image and nation in 1990s British

cinema’, pp. 88–99; Robert Murphy, ‘A path through the moral maze’,
pp. 1–16 and Claire Monk, ‘Men in the 90s’, pp. 156–86, in Robert Murphy
(ed.), British Cinema in the 90s (London: BFI, 2000); also Julia Hallam, ‘Film,
class and national identity’, pp. 261–73, in Justine Ashby and Andrew Higson
(eds), British Cinema Past and Present (London: Routledge, 2000).

12. Moya Luckett, ‘Image and nation in 1990s British cinema’, pp. 88–99, p. 98.
13. Claire Monk, ‘Underbelly UK: The 1990s underclass films, masculinity and

the ideologies of “new” Britain’, in Justine Ashby and Andrew Higson (eds),
British Cinema Past and Present (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 274–87,
p. 284.

14. Saskia Sassen, The Global City (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991),
p. 9.

15. Ibid. p. 12.
16. Ibid. p. 267. Sassen makes this point by drawing on Nigel Thrift and Peter

Williams (eds), Class and Space (London: Macmillan, 1987).
17. Ibid. p. 281.

118 ,    

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