Synopses & Reviews
Who can forget Dorothy's quest for the great and powerful Oz as she tried to return to her beloved Kansas? She thought she needed a wizard's magic, only to discover that home -- and the power to get there -- had been with her all along. This engaging and provocative book proposes that Hollywood has created an imaginary cinematic geography filled with people and places we recognize and to which we are irresistibly drawn. Each viewing of a film stirs, in a very real and charismatic way, feelings of home, and the comfort of returning to films like familiar haunts is at the core of our nostalgic desire. Leading us on a journey through American film, Elisabeth Bronfen examines the different ways home is constructed in the development of cinematic narrative. Each chapter includes a close reading of such classic films as Fleming's The Wizard of Oz, Sirk's Imitation of Life, Burton's Batman Returns, Hitchcock's Rebecca, Ford's The Searchers, and Sayles's Lone Star.
"Movies, Bronfen suggests, are enactments of the Freudian family romance, especially 'nostalgia for an untainted sense of belonging,' and this, she says, is most apparent in films that deal explicitly with concepts of home. She takes eight films, heavy on thrillers but also encompassing fantasy, melodrama and westerns, and gives each an extremely close reading with a psychoanalytic spin. The tornado in The Wizard of Oz, for example, represents 'a hallucinatory materialization of [Dorothy's] desire for a violent separation from the home.' The analysis also makes extensive use of Freud's concept of the Mischling, or 'mixed-race' individual. Bronfen (The Knotted Subject) applies this trope literally to a light-skinned African-American who passes for white in Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, but then expands it to include the white girl raised by Indians in John Ford's The Searchers and even Bruce Wayne and his costumed Batman alter ego. Bronfen's interpretations of the films can be convincing, but occasional attempts to apply her theories behind the camera are less persuasive. This isn't for the casual fan; Bronfen's language is highly academic, making a background in psychoanalytic theory extremely helpful if not essential. Readers willing to give their brains a workout, though, will find this stimulating reading." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Leading us on a journey through familiar twentieth-century American films, this engaging and provocative book proposes that Hollywood has created an imaginary cinematic geography filled with people and places we recognize and to which we are irresistibly drawn. Each viewing of a film stirs, in a very real and charismatic way, feelings of home. The comfort of returning to films like familiar haunts is at the core of our nostalgic desire. Elisabeth Bronfen examines the different ways home is constructed in the development of cinematic narrative, offering close readings of crucial scenes in classic films.