Cinematic Illuminations: The Middle Ages on Film

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Overview

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.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Speculum
Through Finke and Shichtman's use of film theory and cinema criticism, along with their sensitive deployment of medieval historical and literary details, the Middle Ages emerges as a period production in this excellent and innovative study.

— Holly A. Crocker

Arthuriana
A number of studies have followed, but none can hold a candle to Cinematic Illuminations.

— Kevin J. Harty

Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe
One of the most refreshing aspects of this book is that Finke and Shichtman combine encyclopedic knowledge of and masterful control over their material—including but not limited to film studies, medieval literature and history, and popular culture—with nuanced analysis, deft prose, and a palpable enjoyment of the topic. The authors are clearly having a grand time and invite readers to join in.

— Mary K. Ramsey

Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe - Mary K. Ramsey

One of the most refreshing aspects of this book is that Finke and Shichtman combine encyclopedic knowledge of and masterful control over their material—including but not limited to film studies, medieval literature and history, and popular culture—with nuanced analysis, deft prose, and a palpable enjoyment of the topic. The authors are clearly having a grand time and invite readers to join in.

Speculum - Holly A. Crocker

Through Finke and Shichtman's use of film theory and cinema criticism, along with their sensitive deployment of medieval historical and literary details, the Middle Ages emerges as a period production in this excellent and innovative study.

Arthuriana - Kevin J. Harty

A number of studies have followed, but none can hold a candle to Cinematic Illuminations.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801893452
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie A. Finke is a professor of women’s and gender studies at Kenyon College. Martin B. Shichtman is a professor of English language and literature at Eastern Michigan University. Professors Finke and Shichtman have collaborated on numerous publications, including King Arthur and the Myth of History and Medieval Texts and Contemporary Readers.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

Acknowledgments xi

Part 1 Theory and Methods of Cinematic Medievalism

1 Traversing the Fantasy: Screening the Middle Ages 3

2 Signs of the Medieval: A Sociological Stylistics of Film 23

3 Celluloid History: Cinematic Fidelity and Infidelity 53

Part 2 The Politics of Cinematic Medievalism

4 Mirror of Princes: Representations of Political Authority in Medieval Films 71

5 The Politics of Hagiography: Joan of Arc on the Screen 109

6 The Hagiography of Politics: Mourning in America 156

7 The Crusades: War of the Cross or God's Own Bloodbath? 195

Part 3 Cinematic Medievalism and the Anxieties of Modernity

8 Looking Awry at the Grail: Mourning Becomes Modernity 245

9 Apocalyptic Medievalism: Rape and Disease as Figures of Social Anomie 288

10 Forever Young: The Teen Middle Ages 335

Notes 369

Bibliography 409

Index 433

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