Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel / Edition 1

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Virtual Voyages illuminates the pivotal role of travelogues within the history of cinema. The travelogue dominated the early cinema period from 1895 to 1905, was central to the consolidation of documentary in the 1910s and 1920s, proliferated in the postwar era of 16mm distribution, and today continues to flourish in IMAX theaters and a host of non-theatrical venues. It is not only the first chapter in the history of documentary but also a key element of ethnographic film, home movies, and fiction films. In this collection, leading film scholars trace the intersection of technology and ideology in representations of travel across a wide variety of cinematic forms. In so doing, they demonstrate how attention to the role of travel imagery in film blurs distinctions between genres and heightens awareness of cinema as a technology for moving through space and time, of cinema itself as a mode of travel.

Some contributors take a broad view of travelogues by examining the colonial and imperial perspectives embodied in early travel films, the sensation of movement that those films evoked, and the role of live presentations such as lectures in our understanding of travelogues. Other essays are focused on specific films, figures, and technologies, including early travelogues encouraging Americans to move to the West; the making and reception of the documentary Grass (1925), shot on location in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran; the role of travel imagery in 1930s Hollywood cinema; the late-twentieth-century 16mm illustrated-lecture industry; and the panoramic possibilities presented by IMAX technologies. Together the essays provide a nuanced appreciation of how, through their representations of travel, filmmakers actively produce the worlds they depict.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Virtual Voyages offers us an incisive look at the ways and means by which nonfiction cinema has mobilized itself to span time and space, carrying viewers across magical expanses for what appears to be a nominal price. The hidden costs and complex pleasures of virtual travel receive close scrutiny in a book that is sure to stimulate further explorations.”—Bill Nichols, author of Introduction to Documentary

“Stretching from early cinema to IMAX, Virtual Voyages offers the best tour yet available of the production and presentation of travel films, one of the most durable and intriguing—and too long overlooked—of film genres. The reprinted and new essays collected by Jeffrey Ruoff historically situate Hale’s Tours, Burton Holmes’s lectures, home movies, Grass, Jungle Headhunters, Everest, and a host of other examples of the genre, and theorize the particular knowledges and pleasures the travel film offers of an exotic and mundane world in motion.”—Gregory Waller, editor of Moviegoing in America: A Sourcebook in the History of Film Exhibition

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822337133
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Ruoff is Assistant Professor of Film and Television Studies at Dartmouth College. He is the author of An American Family: A Televised Life and a coauthor of The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On. His films and videos, including The Last Vaudevillian and Hacklebarney Tunes: The Music of Greg Brown have been shown at festivals and on television in the United States and abroad.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : the filmic fourth dimension : cinema as audiovisual vehicle 1
I Traveling machines : space, time, difference
"The whole world within reach" : travel images without borders 25
From Hale's tours to Star tours : virtual voyages, travel ride films, and the delirium of the hyper-real 42
From lecturer's prop to industrial product : the early history of travel films 61
II Travelogues and silent cinema
"The nation's first playground" : travel films and the American West, 1895-1920 79
Between the "familiar text" and the "book of the world" : touring the ambivalent contexts of travel films 99
Lured by the East : ethnographic and expedition films about nomadic tribes - the case of Grass (1925) 117
Trans-Saharan automotive cinema : Citroen-, Renault-, and Peugeot-sponsored documentary interwar crossing films 139
Homemade travelogues : Autosonntag - a film safari in the Swiss Alps 157
III Travelogues in the sound era
Hollywood and the attractions of the travelogue 177
"The last of the great (foot-slogging) explorers" : Lewis Cotlow and the ethnographic imaginary in popular travel film 195
Show and tell : the 16mm travel lecture film 217
Time traveling IMAX style : tales from the giant screen 238
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