Celluloid Psychology series

The Celluloid Psychology series is brought to you as an ongoing series of screenings exploring the mind and brain in cinema. Each of our carefully selected films are curated and introduced by a specialist in human behaviour, who will discuss how their area of expertise can shed unexpected light on the psychological questions explored in the film. 

Some screenings might provide a new perspective on familiar works, whereas others will introduce lesser-seen gems that perfectly illustrate an idea or phenomenon. Celluloid Psychology was devised by Dr Alastair Smith (School of Psychology) as an antidote to the usual depictions of psychology on our screens. Alastair will host each session and introduce the guest experts.

Previous films in this series

The First Movie (2009)

For over 100 years now, the cinematic medium has been used to spread a multitude of ideas, from the artistic through to the political. This is so ingrained in our culture that it can be difficult to imagine our lives without film, let alone how we might have felt when we first experienced its power.

In this haunting documentary, film-maker Mark Cousins visits a small Kurdish-Iraqi village and shows films to local children their first time. They are then given cameras to make their own films, and the resulting creations tell insightful stories of the magic, horror, and mundanity, of everyday human life.

This film is also screened as part of the Celluloid Psychology series and will be introduced by Dr Alastair Smith from the School of Psychology.

Citizenfour (2014)

Citizenfour is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute. Giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, we see him hand over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency.

Andy Wills, Professor of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, introduced this documentary lifting the lid on widespread illegal surveillance activities by US and UK agencies, and discussed issues of freedom and privacy in digital communications.


The Mercy

The Mercy (2017)

Professor Judy Edworthy, Director of the University’s Cognition Institute introduced this dramatic account of Donald Crowhurst’s disastrous attempt to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe without stopping, and the struggles he confronted on the journey while his family awaited his return.

Judy, an applied psychologist discussed the risk-taking behaviour behind the tragic turn of events, along with personal recollections of contemporary responses in Teignmouth, where Crowhurst sailed from in 1968.

Paperhouse (1989)

A drawing that became a dream. A dream that became a reality.

Dr Alastair Smith from the School of Psychology introduced this dark fantasy about a young girl’s dreams that become populated by her drawings.

Alastair conducts research into the cognitive processes underlying drawing production and discussed how drawing abilities emerge in development and explore the relationship between meaning and appearance in children’s drawings.


Interested in studying psychology?

Did you know that 89 per cent of our graduates are in employment or further study after six months?

To find out about the University of Plymouth's range of psychology courses within the School of Psychology, please visit the school page