Cinematic visions of Los Angeles : representations of identity and mobility in the cinematic city
Accounts of 'filmic' Los Angeles are often pessimistic, focusing upon the geographies of segregation and exclusion evident in both the 'material' and 'cinematic' Los Angeles. In contrast to these more familiar readings, I propose a less pessimistic and more nuanced picture of Los Angeles as cinematic city. I offer an analysis of the cinematic city that, on the whole, shows a greater willingness to deal with 'differences' and to examine the city's multiple geographies and identities. I examine these multiple geographies with particular attention to themes of mobility and identity which, I argue, are a central preoccupation of many Los Angeles films. Moving beyond previous work on the 'geographies of film', however, I contend that in order to address such themes in film analysis we need a fuller engagement with film theory. Hence, in analyzing these themes I pay particular attention to two issues. First, I give careful consideration to particular film techniques, specifically, mise-en-scene, camera movement and editing, to enable a more detailed analysis of the relationship between urban and cinematic space. Second, I turn to the function of genre, not as'system of classification, but as a mode of "cultural instrumentality", to examine what films do culturally. Through the evidence of the film analysis I propose the potential of cinematic city narratives to represent more fully the identities and mobilities of material Los Angeles providing a revision, and in some cases, a re-imagining, of its overdetermined image of social chaos and ethnic conflict.