About this course

Like many national cinemas, the British film industry has used crime and the criminal to drive cinematic narratives that are both conventional and subversive: conventional because the genre is a Hollywood staple; subversive because many of these films examine and critique the culture, politics, and economics of a particular period in the United Kingdom’s history.

This course will take a broad look at a subjective sample of the rich trove of British crime films, introducing students to a genre that is at once familiar, yet uniquely British. Besides numerous feature films, such as Brighton Rock, Get Carter, and The Long Good Friday the course will examine extended TV dramas such as Prime Suspect, Luther, and Happy Valley, which have attracted large audiences and considerable critical acclaim. We will aim to trace shifts in the on-screen depiction of criminal and illegal activity, and of police and law enforcement in Great Britain since the end of World War II, shifts which mirror the dynamic cultural concerns of a nation. Along the way, we will engage with a wide range of different critical and theoretical debates, from issues of national cinema, to genre, to debates surrounding criminality, police authority, and immigration. We will see how filmmakers from the United Kingdom bring their own cultural questions to bear on narratives and characters, making their work essential additions to the genre as a whole.

The course includes an overnight study trip to London, including a visit to the British Film Institute.

Professor: Jack Ryan, Vice Provost and Dean of Arts and Humanities, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA. Email: jryan@gettysburg.edu


Subject Areas

Check with your home institution for specific information on fulfillment of major / course requirements.