Madeline McInnis punting

For Madeline McInnis, who has just completed an MPhil in Film and Screen Studies, the autonomy the course offered was a key factor in her choice to come to Cambridge.

“The decision really came down to the thesis,” she explains. “I had already completed a Masters assessed by coursework, but I wanted the opportunity to focus on my own research, and to put my research and writing into closer focus. The MPhil at Cambridge was very self-guided.”

For the 30,000 word thesis on which she was assessed, Madeline chose to concentrate on the war film, and specifically how digital imaging helps to create a sense of horror, looking at films of the past 25 years.

“I’m using Saving Private Ryan (1998) as a turning point, as that was the first time when digital effects were used in narrative film to recreate the realities of war. I’m interested in how digital imaging helps to present horror, and how ideas of realism change. Since 2017 there have been Oscar winners almost every year focusing on the World Wars and using digital techniques.”

Within this focal point, Madeline also explored films from a German perspective, with a particular emphasis on All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) and films about the role of animals in war, looking closely at War Horse (2011).

Before coming to Darwin, she completed an undergraduate degree in Film Studies and History, and a Masters in English, both at Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University, before spending several years working in arts journalism and teaching writing. This additional life experience meant that she particularly valued the Darwin community’s variety and maturity.

“I really liked how international College was. Everyone in my building was from outside the UK, and no two of us were from the same country. On my floor, all bar one of us were mature students. I liked the self-sufficient nature of the set-up – we could cook for ourselves, and had lots of dinners together.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Madeline served as President of the Darwin College Film Society, as well as as a member of the Punt Club and Beekeeping Society. As one of just a small number of Film Studies students in College, she enjoyed the opportunity to get to know people from a diversity of academic backgrounds.

“College was a great way to meet people in different fields – I had friends doing biochemistry who I never would have come across otherwise. It was great to be in a community built around postgraduate life.”

Madeline will graduate this weekend with an MPhil in Film and Screen Studies.

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