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Screening the Gothic

Screening the Gothic

Lisa Hopkins
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    Screening the Gothic
    Book Description:

    Filmmakers have long been drawn to the Gothic with its eerie settings and promise of horror lurking beneath the surface. Moreover, the Gothic allows filmmakers to hold a mirror up to their own age and reveal society's deepest fears. Franco Zeffirelli'sJane Eyre, Francis Ford Coppola'sBram Stoker's Dracula, and Kenneth Branagh'sHamletare just a few examples of film adaptations of literary Gothic texts. In this ground-breaking study, Lisa Hopkins explores how the Gothic has been deployed in these and other contemporary films and comes to some surprising conclusions. For instance, in a brilliant chapter on films geared to children, Hopkins finds that horror resides not in the trolls, wizards, and goblins that abound inHarry Potter, but in the heart of the family.

    Screening the Gothicoffers a radical new way of understanding the relationship between film and the Gothic as it surveys a wide range of films, many of which have received scant critical attention. Its central claim is that, paradoxically, those texts whose affiliations with the Gothic were the clearest became the least Gothic when filmed. Thus, Hopkins surprises readers by revealing Gothic elements in films such asSense and SensibilityandMansfield Park, as well as exploring more obviously Gothic films likeThe MummyandThe Fellowship of the Ring. Written in an accessible and engaging manner,Screening the Gothicwill be of interest to film lovers as well as students and scholars.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79698-0
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. Introduction: The gothic: Towards a Definition
    (pp. XI-XVIII)

    What is the Gothic? In literary studies, the term is generally applied primarily to a body of writing produced in England between about 1750 and about 1820. Often set in ancient, partially ruined castles or mansions haunted by the real or apparent threat of a supernatural presence, its cast of characters typically includes a mysterious and threatening older man, a vulnerable heroine, and a character who is poised ambiguously between good and evil. Although early Gothic novels were often set abroad, the sense of unease and the obsession with doubling that characterise the form also typically include the fear that...

  5. Chapter One Gothic revenants: A Tale of Three Hamlets
    (pp. 1-26)

    Hamlet, with its ghost, its castle, its incest, its doublings, and its repressions, is so obviously a Gothic text that it is purely the fact of chronology that keeps it out of the Gothic canon: “[C]anHamletlegitimately be described as ‘Gothic’? The answer is a qualified ‘yes.’ ”¹ Film adaptations ofHamlet, in contrast, are not subject to this constraint and are thus at liberty to locate themselves centrally in the terrain of the Gothic. Moreover, all the film adaptations I discuss are haunted by that sense of repetition and recurrences which, as I argue in my penultimate chapter,...

  6. Chapter Two Putting the gothic in: Clarissa, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and The Time Machine
    (pp. 27-57)

    In this chapter, I discuss a number of novels which were originally born out of varying degrees of conscious opposition to the Gothic movement but which have nevertheless been transformed into Gothic texts during the course of adaptation for the screen. Samuel Richardson wroteClarissain direct response to critics who had claimed that the heroine of his first novel,Pamela, was not all she appeared to be; his intention was to portray the whole of a psyche in transparent terms, but the adapters ofClarissahave entirely subverted this by focusing not on Clarissa’s consciousness but on what they...

  7. Chapter Three Taking the gothic out: ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Woman in White, and Lady Audley’s Secret
    (pp. 58-87)

    The first film I discuss in this chapter, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s’Tis Pity She’s a Whore(1973), may well seem an odd choice. LikeHamlet, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whoreclearly predates the traditional chronological period of the Gothic. However, likeHamlet, it also has strong affiliations with the genre, especially in its focus on incest, its sinister Cardinal, and the gruesome scene where Giovanni cuts out the heart of his pregnant sister Annabella. Even more significant, Ford in general, and’Tis Pityin particular, was an important influence on many Gothic writers (and also on Richardson: there are clear...

  8. Chapter Four Fragmenting the gothic: Jane Eyre and Dracula
    (pp. 88-115)

    Charlotte Brontë’sJane Eyre(1847) and Bram Stoker’sDracula(1897) both clearly signaled a debt to the Gothic tradition. Equally, all three of the adaptations I discuss in this chapter (two ofJane Eyreand one ofDracula) also deploy Gothicizing techniques. But I argue that, in doing so, they do not reinforce the Gothic elements of the original texts but, rather, subvert them, for whereas the original novels present the Gothic as an externalized menace confined to specific physical locations, these films regard it rather as a product of the psychology of the characters—and, above all, of the...

  9. Chapter Five Gothic and the family: The Mummy Returns, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    (pp. 116-147)

    This chapter examines three very successful films which were wholly or partially pitched at children but which nevertheless deploy distinctly Gothicizing techniques. Stephen Sommers’s originalThe Mummyhad made no particular attempt to appeal to children, butThe Mummy Returnsfeatured an eight-year-old child and was accompanied by a novelization for children as well as one for adults; since its release, the characters and stories have been still further identified as suitable material for children by the launch of aMummycartoon series and comic-book annual.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stonewas, of course, marketed for children from the...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 148-152)

    In this book, I have tried to trace a trajectory in the deployment of the Gothic on screen. It is only partially a chronological one: though it is true that the first chapter deals with the earliest text I consider (Hamlet) and the last with the most recent (The Mummy Returnsand the Harry Potter books), there is no similar sequencing at work in terms of the dates of the adaptations I discuss, and the presence or absence of the Gothic on screen is not, in fact, a matter of chronology or even of historical moment. Nor is its presence...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 153-160)
  12. Works cited
    (pp. 161-166)
  13. Index
    (pp. 167-170)