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Camera Arriving at the Station: Cinematic Memory as Cultural Memory


  • Russell J. A. Kilbourn

    () (Department of English and Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5, Canada)


This paper explores the modern metropolis as an ironically concrete metaphor for the collective memory and the mourning of cinema’s passing, as it—the “city”—is digitally constructed in two recent, auteur-directed, special effects-driven blockbuster films, Inception and Hugo . The modern city, and mass media, such as the cinema, as well as modes of mass transport, especially the train, all originate in the 19th century, but come into their own in the early 20th century in their address to a subject as the mobilised citizen-consumer who, as Anne Friedberg makes clear, is also always a viewer. Additionally, as Barbara Mennel has recently shown, the advent in Europe of trains and time zones, in their transformation of modern time and space, paved the way for cinema’s comparably cataclysmic impact upon modern subjectivity in its iconic reproduction of movement within illusory 3D space. Both films, thus, in their different ways employ cinematic remediation as a form of cultural memory whose nostalgia for cinema’s past is rendered with the latest digital effects, hidden in plain sight in the form of subjective memories (as flashback) and dreams. While a version of this reading has been advanced before (at least for Hugo ), this paper goes further by connecting each film’s status as remediated dream-memory to its respective dependence upon the city as a post-cinematic three-dimensional framework within which locative and locomotive desires alike determine a subject whose psyche is indistinguishable from the cityscape that surrounds him.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell J. A. Kilbourn, 2013. "Camera Arriving at the Station: Cinematic Memory as Cultural Memory," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(3), pages 1-16, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:3:y:2013:i:3:p:316-331:d:28902

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Claudia Malacrida, 2012. "Bodily Practices as Vehicles for Dehumanization in an Institution for Mental Defectives," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-16, November.
    2. Christine A. Mallozzi, 2012. "Cultural Models of Bodily Images of Women Teachers," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-18, October.
    3. Chris Shilling, 2013. "Afterword: Embodiment, Social Order, and the Classification of Humans as Waste," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(3), pages 1-5, June.
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    More about this item


    city film; subjectivity; cultural memory; remediation; digital cinema;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


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