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360 Issues over 33 years: A reflection on our past & the power of the visual arts

They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go, but Epigram never goes out of style

By Ben Carpenter, Film & Television Editor

Dead Calm. This was the feeling in Epigrams media suite on a Saturday afternoon; as well as the film in focus in the first review I stumbled upon when digging through Epigrams archives. To add further coincidence, Dead Calm (1989) was one of the first film recommendations I ever received from my mum. ‘Neill Down’ states the title, a witty homage to the film's star Sam Neill. I like to think we haven’t lost such wit 32 years later.

Whilst flicking through hundreds of issues, spanning decades of university life and presenting the voices of Bristol students come and gone, it became clear to me that Film & Television differed largely from other sections. Aside from lacking its own exclusive space until the early 00s (being grouped with the Arts for the better part of 15 years) the energy of the section felt just as palpable in the 1988 prints as it does now. A timeless energy, maintained not just by the love and care of so many writers and editors but by the power of the projects themselves.

Courtesy of Epigram/Madeleine Ellis

A review for Heathers (1989), a cinema listing for Clueless (1995) and an interview with the directors of The Blair Witch Project (1999). These were just a few of the pieces I discovered. Popular Culture has a hold unlike anything else. In fact many would argue popular culture IS the culture. When reading through various sections in older prints I encountered a range of stories I had never even heard of. From Maggie Thatcher being discussed as the new chancellor of the university in 1992 to the wrecking of Wills Hall, these are shocking events that I doubt you even knew occurred; fleeting stories that failed the test of time.

But there is something to be said of film and its permanence. Despite the enormous developments we have encountered in the last 30 years in society, politics and technology, the safety of the arts remains as constant and relevant as ever.

In evaluating these past editions I found myself evaluating my position as editor; as one of many editors in Epigrams 33 years and counting. The love and care I feel for Film & TV and it’s resonance is well known to my peers and loved ones, and I can only hope that comes through in my tenure as section editor the same as it did for my predecessors. I remember watching Dead Calm for the first time. I remember falling in love with Clueless. I remember discussing The Blair Witch with my friends. Gosh my mum was 7 months pregnant with me when she saw the film (which she maintains is more silly than it is scary).

As one news story jumps to the next and trends constantly change, visual arts maintain their position as markers in our lives and maintain their impact for decades to come, influencing perspectives and providing stability for many.

Whilst many of these copies will remain an artefact of their time, tucked safely away until the next anniversary print in years to come, the passion for Film & TV continues to trickle down, all the way from Issue 1 to Issue 360. In every word, the devotion of every writer to grace these pages remains, despite some musty smells and an ink stain here and there.

Featured Image: Ben Carpenter/Epigram

The 36oth edition of Epigram is available now on campus and online @