John Orr, who had taken early retirement as Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, has died. Having taught in sociology for the most part of his career, he was, in fact, an early proponent of Film Studies. He had started publishing on film and culture related matters in the early 1990s and was working in a truly transnational fashion, with works dedicated to a variety of cinematic traditions, radically cutting across national borders. He was interested in Asian cinema, in the cinema of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, in British epic film, in European modernism, Wajda, Polanski, Hitchcock, in narrative strategies and cultural studies. It was just a few months ago that he sent me a copy of his most recent book, Romantics and Modernists in British Cinema. He was active until the last moment, with a host of other books and projects in the pipeline.
We sat together on the editorial board for the film studies series that he and Martine Beugnet pulled off for Edinburgh University Press. He was a frequent visitor to events at our Centre for Film Studies, often coming up from Edinburgh to attend a day conference or a talk. Besides presenting his book on Hitchcock back in 2006 in the context of a talk he gave at the Centre for Film Studies at St. Andrews, he regularly moderated panels for us and was always a lively discussant. He took part in our workshop on film festivals, in the postcommunist visual culture conference, and in events of the Scottish Consortium of Film and Visual Studies. His interest in new aspects of cinema was inexhaustible; in 2007 he wrote an essay about a Yugoslav film by director Goran Paskaljevic for a special issue of the Cineaste I was putting together.
Always responsive and always intellectually alert: this is the way I will remember John Orr.
I will miss his friendly and supportive presence. Rest in peace, John!
18 September 2010