This chapter assesses the historical tendency within SF fandom and SF critical studies to treat SF film as necessarily inferior to prose SF. After indicating the cultural politics behind such judgments, and in criticism of SF film more broadly, it turns to the example of Fahrenheit 451 (1966), François Truffaut’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel. It untangles the contradictory criticisms of the film offered by champions of the novel, before outlining the ways in which the film not only adapts but also critiques the original text. Bould concludes the discussion with an examination of the role of special effects and kinesis in SF cinema, drawing on the Resident Evil franchise to demonstrate the critical—in both senses—role played by spectacle and affect.
Toby Miller and Mariana Johnson
This article considers the question of the efficacy of modern mainstream film and the media studies' dominant modes of analyzing texts. It explores the alternatives from media anthropology and political economy, and seeks to combine economic and ethnographic insights with textual analysis. These methods provide a major historicization of cultural context, and supplement the examination of textual properties and spectatorial processes with an account of occasionality. It also considers the shifts that characterize the existence of texts as cultural commodities. The article concludes with a textual analysis of a classic film noir, Gilda, and shows how relevant screen texts are adopted as guides for living.
Listening between the Images: African Filmmakers’ Take on the Soviet Union, Soviet Filmmakers’ Take on Africa
This article explores the relationships between African filmmakers and communism during the Cold War period, with a particular focus on those African filmmakers who were trained in the Soviet Union, such as Sarah Maldoror, Ousmane Sembene, and Abderrahmane Sissako. The essay argues that, while affinities can be found between the work of African and Soviet filmmakers, these relationships were often compromised by utopian assumptions of “brotherhood” or racism—an issue frequently critiqued by African filmmakers in their films through creating tension between images and soundtrack. The analysis thus foregrounds the aural language of film, the sonic contexts in which films are made and viewed, and the language(s) in which research is conducted, to emphasize how the aural is an important aspect of the visual even in its absence, and to sound a note of caution against overly celebratory accounts of transnational film relationships.
Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport
This chapter foregrounds alternative approaches to Canadian Arctic Cinemas, identifying and examining practices and aesthetics that emphasize the hybridized, situated, and local. The chapter highlights some of the most distinctive aspects of Canadian Arctic filmmaking traditions: the innovative use of technological forms, multiple and varied distribution practices, a continual return to processes of historical re-enactment, variegated documentary film practices, and the rise of Arctic Indigenous filmmaking. In alignment with many contemporary Canadian film historiographies, the chapter emphasizes the central importance of narrowcast, multimedia, documentary, video arts, and expanded cinema to the nation’s work, which is quite distinct from many aspects of American and European cinematic traditions and practices. The Arctic cinematic/moving image traditions and practices considered include participatory and documentary filmmaking, Inuit television, Indigenous filmmaking collectives such as Isuma and Arnait, le cinéma vécu, the re-release of archival works as acts of repatriation, multiscreen and expanded cinemas, and IMAX.
Quebec’s popular cinema has always enjoyed commercial success, presenting a homogeneous image of Québécois culture that strikes a chord with domestic audiences. This success partly results from Quebec cinema’s ability to capitalize on a narrowly defined national ethos: linguistic distinctiveness, whiteness, and a love–hate relationship with Catholicism. The top-grossing films produced in the province over the past several decades suggest that, behind the veneer of multicultural urbanism and globalized modernity, there remains a stubborn attraction for the homogeneity of folk culture. None of the top-grossing films produced in Quebec over the past seventy years focus on the diverse experiences of Indigenous people or emigrants—the symbolic center of the narrative is always firmly bound to a traditional French-Canadian frame of reference. This chapter examines folk homogeneity throughout the corpus of top-grossing Quebec films from the first wave of French-Canadian features in the 1940s and 1950s to the most recent blockbusters.
This article analyzes the theoretical and methodological assumptions which influenced ecocritical writings on film. It evaluates the most pragmatically useful theoretical framework for eco-film criticism and examines the strengths and weaknesses of the different theories and methods that have been employed by ecocritics working in film studies. It considers eco-film criticism and ideological analysis within the psycho-semiotic paradigm and the cognitivist film theory. This article also discusses some potential future developments in eco-film criticism.
Thomas Waugh, Fulvia Massimi, and Lisa Aalders
This chapter pushes for a broad revision of Canadian national cinemas, arguing for queerness as their privileged mode of expression. The prominence of queerness in the Canadian cinematic imaginary is explored throughout four sections that demonstrate the uniqueness of Canadian cinemas over examples of queer cinema elsewhere. First, the roots of queer cinema/cinema queered in Canada are located in the work of pre-Stonewall pioneers such as Claude Jutra, Norman McLaren, and David Secter. Second, queerness is seen informing the institutional and political structures of Canadian cinema through practices of activism around identities, intersectionality, and serostatus. Third, queerness is recentered in the oeuvre of the nonqueer auteurs Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, and Denys Arcand, as a synonym for sexual fluidity and a symptom of sexual/national anxiety. Finally, the contributions of Léa Pool, John Greyson, Thirza Cuthand, and Xavier Dolan uncover the intersectional heritage and souls of contemporary queer Canadian cinemas.
This article identifies a particular subgenre of the road narrative, the transgender road narrative, analyzing the film Transamerica and the novel Nevada as representative examples. The first part draws on transgender studies scholarship, showing how these texts both depict a long history of trans (im)mobility and engage with the affective geographies of gender transitioning, including the idea of the body as home. The second part draws on ecocriticism and environmental humanities scholarship, comparing how Transamerica and Nevada depict landscapes and environments in relation to trans bodies. This article thus takes this subgenre as an opportunity to explore the intersection of transgender issues and environmental issues and subsequently to develop a new line of inquiry that we might call “trans ecology.” (This article has been commissioned as a supplement to The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism, edited by Greg Garrard.)