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Cinematic Illuminations : The Middle Ages on Film


This engaging new study analyzes cinematic treatments of the Middle Ages within a diverse range of popular and artistic films.

At a time when students have more experience with watching movies than with reading and evaluating literature and history, Cinematic Illuminations harnesses the power of popular culture to make accessible a period that often seems forbidding and remote. From The Seventh Seal and The Lion in Winter to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the authors examine the ways in which the twentieth century has reimagined medieval times. Such analysis brings to life for students the literature, poetry, history, and art of the Middle Ages.

Drawing from current critical approaches to both medieval and film studies, Laurie A. Finke and Martin B. Shichtman focus on two main issues of historical film. First is the inherent tension between the artifice required by film to create historical reality and the accuracy central to claims of history. Second are the ways iconography and filming conventions rewrite our understanding of the historical period portrayed in the film. In this case, the authors ask, how do contemporary representations of the Middle Ages influence cultural fantasies about our own time? Their detailed and accessible readings reveal just how strongly medieval history continues to resonate with modern audiences.

Cinematic Illuminations offers medievalists, literary and cultural theorists, and film theorists and buffs a fresh approach to understanding how popular culture interprets and makes use of the past through the medium of film.


Jane Campion : Cinema, Nation, Identity

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In Jane Campion: Cinema, Nation, Identity a diverse group of contributors challenge the view that Campion's body of work lacks coherence or unity to instead examine the important characteristics and themes that underlie it. Editors Hilary Radner, Alistair Fox, and Ir?ne Bessi?re have compiled rich, original scholarship on Campion's oeuvre to probe issues previously neglected by scholars-like her debt to New Zealand sources and her personal views of family dynamics-and those that benefit from additional insight-such as her place in the feminist filmmaking tradition. This volume also investigates Campion's distinct cinematic style in light of these issues to examine the source of her enduring cross-cultural and international appeal.

Contributors in the first section explore the creation of subjectivity and identity in Campion's films, which include well-known works like The Piano and Holy Smoke, to trace the unique perspectives of Campion's characters and Campion herself as director. In the second section, essays analyze Campion's close relationship with literature and argue that the singular vision in her literary adaptations stems from her New Zealand background and her personal mythology. Contributors in the third section argue that while Campion devotes considerable attention to the evocation of feminine internal space, she also uses the symbolic potential of her external physical locations to register what is taking place in the inner life of her characters and reflect their search for personal fulfillment. A final group of essays presents a variety of responses to Campion's films, demonstrating that Campion is a highly personal and idiosyncratic director who nonetheless manages to fascinate viewers across a broad cultural spectrum.

Taken together, contributors in Jane Campion: Cinema, Nation, Identity present a compelling analysis of Campion's status as a leading female filmmaker with close attention to her distinctive cinematic style and particular mise-en-sc?ne. The collective nature of this volume will appeal to students and teachers of film, literature, and gender studies, as well as fans of Campion's work.


Maltese Touch of Evil : Film Noir and Potential Criticism

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Noir is among the most popular, acclaimed, and critically assessed film styles of all time. The unfortunate consequence is an ever-growing divergence between fans and scholars with regard to goals and methods for appreciating and studying noir. The Maltese Touch of Evil aims to bridge that gap. Based on a series of popular podcasts, this unique and inspired investigation of film noir sets out to examine the case of noir more closely, and in the process reconfigures the critical evidence on noir that has been presented to date. The Maltese Touch of Evil reproduces and re-sequences nearly 150 still images from 31 great films, laying them out with the authors' informed and entertaining insights into the significance of each shot. The result is a de facto meta-film noir, a celebration of the genre that shows how these films are themselves "constrained" texts whose carefully calculated visual forms simultaneously generate narrative and critical commentary on that narrative. You will never look at film noir the same way again.