Mar 7, 2019

In Ussher Film Archive, a Mecca for Cinephiles

Tucked away on the first floor of the Ussher, Trinity's film library offers cultural enrichment outside the pages of a book.

Patrick O'DonoghueFilm & TV Editor

When I picture a library, visions of shelves upon shelves of neatly ordered books come to mind. However, the drama and film studies section of the Ussher library presents quite a different spectacle when I step into it. While the tidy appearance and meticulous arrangement of the DVDs is clearly similar to the well-trodden aisles of books for English literature that are situated just parallel, each section contains an entirely different world.

Although it may not feel like it, setting foot in Trinity’s drama and film studies DVD archive means departing one cultural sphere and emerging into another. Admittedly, cinema and books both attempt to answer the same fundamental questions of society, translating the human experience into something that audiences can make greater sense of. However, they elect to do so in very different languages. Thanks to this trove of cinematic delights, coyly hidden away in Trinity’s DVD archive, the opportunity to become fluent in both is readily available to students.

A perusal of the videos in this unassuming section – located on the first floor of the Ussher – provides the perfect means to satiate idle study-break curiosity. The secluded space is an ideal spot for restless reveries to go blissfully uninterrupted, safely shielded from the hubbub of the academic world.


If we are honest with ourselves, we are all at times struck by the impulse to learn as we did as children through vibrant and animated images. In fact, many of us would prefer if our weighty, tedious course readings were accompanied by pictures to relieve us of those long, bleary-eyed study periods. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Even Andy Warhol, that visionary of pop culture, famously confessed: “I never read. I just look at pictures.”

With an arsenal of classic cinematic works stocked up in Trinity’s DVD archive, students should be in no doubt that immersing themselves in an engrossing film, and embarking on an odyssey of self-discovery through the inimitable poetics of cinema, is as valuable as devoting themselves to an education derived solely from literature.

The DVD archive boasts a catalogue of films that is tremendous in breadth, including everything from the Italian neo-realist style of Federico Fellini to the aestheticised violence found in Tarantino’s oeuvre. Laid out by country of origin, the films in the archive allow for an exploration of national identities rather than constraining browsers to the rigidity of genre categories.

A DVD collection of the complete works of William Shakespeare, for example, stands as a testament to the importance of visually reinterpreting and adapting iconic works of literature. The drama contained in these works is rejuvenated, and captured in a far richer way, by all the colour and motion of cinema.

Given the many charms of the DVD archive in Trinity’s library, College’s cinephiles could be forgiven for wondering why the section continues to be so overshadowed by the books that populate the shelves around, below and above it.

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.