Research Output

Silence, Melancholia and Science Fiction: Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin.

  In 'On the Melancholic Imaginary' Julia Kristeva notes that epochs of crisis are especially prone to black humour and melancholy: "In times of crisis... melancholy imposes itself, lays down its archaeology, produces its representations and its knowledge." (Kristeva 6) My paper will argue that Jonathan Glazer's recent film offers a profoundly melancholic set of metaphors as we enter the final stages of the lead-up to the referendum. Its discomfiting silences and unsettling style evoke an aesthetics of silence and melancholia that can be seen in only a handful of other Scottish films (such as Andrea Arnold's Red Road (2006) and at times Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar (2002)). Through the lens of science fiction, Under the Skin conveys a deep ambivalence about those perceived as outsiders. While this theme is hardly new within the science fiction genre, it may be seen to have implications in terms of how we consider the representation of Scotland on film. Unlike the silence of Ramsay's Morvern Callar which creates a space for difference in terms of identity and the multiple meanings of silence, the silence of Under the Skin is unrelentingly melancholic and troubling.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    28 August 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    PN1993 Motion Pictures

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    791 Public performances


Artt, S. (2014, August). Silence, Melancholia and Science Fiction: Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin. Paper presented at Becoming Scotland, Queen Margaret University



"Under the skin"; Jonathan Glazer; melancholy; metaphors;

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