"Reading Shane Meadows: Suspense, Tension and Catharsis in Dead Man’s Shoes"
Edwards, Allister Graham
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This dissertation will critically discuss several of the techniques British director Shane Meadows uses to invoke levels of tension and suspense in his psychological revenge thriller Dead Man’ Shoes (2004). Using existing filmic theory and literature to compound its own line of enquiry, the study will conduct a critical analysis of the suspense found in Meadows’ text, discussing the director’s methods of creation, its function throughout the narrative, and, crucially, its affect upon the audience. This study proposes that there are specific techniques a director can employ which are instrumental to increasing levels of anxiety in an audience. It then examines the effectiveness of said techniques throughout the text in light of said proposals. The study argues that during the film’s climax, the high levels of tension are dissipated through several types of catharsis. It examines the way the Aristotelian notion is transposed onto the contemporary text, and how it functions as the film’s literal and thematic climax. This dissertation critically discusses the creation and dissipation of suspense in Dead Man’s Shoes, and, through both its own analysis and by engaging with existing theories, aims to measure to what extent it can be thought of as effective.
Dissertation by Allister Graham Edwards for the BA English & Popular Culture course, submitted May 2012.