A New Archaic Avant-Garde?
: Tradition and Experimentation in the Neo-Mediaeval Cinema of Terry Gilliam, Derek Jarman, and John Boorman

  • Ewan Wilson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The films of Terry Gilliam, Derek Jarman, and John Boorman are united by their tendency to look to an idealised mediaeval past as a solution to a troubled present. More than this, however, these filmmakers share an interest in evoking, incorporating, and participating in the art and practices of the Middle Ages in their films. This thesis scrutinises the ways in which these directors make use of their mediaeval influences within the context of their work, tracing the evolution of such themes and processes that emerge through their output against the framework of neomediaevalism. It suggests that all three of these filmmakers belong to two overlapping traditions: firstly, an alternative and often maligned school of British filmmaker which is as visually orientated as it is literary and eschews the dominant aesthetic of social realism in favour of something more fantastical and dream-like. Secondly, it argues, they belong to a wider tradition of British visionary artists which can be traced back to the likes of Chaucer, Blake and William Morris.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsScottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities
    SupervisorBrian Hoyle (Supervisor) & Jo George (Supervisor)


    • Film
    • Mediavalism
    • Neo-Mediavalism

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