This article considers differences between the representation of mutation in science fiction films from the 1950s and the present, and identifies distinctive changes over this time period, both in relation to the narrative causes of genetic disruption and in the aesthetics of its visual display. Discerning an increasingly abject quality to science fiction mutations from the 1970s onwards—as a progressive tendency to view the physically opened body, one that has a seemingly fluid interior–exterior reversal, or one that is almost beyond recognition as humanoid—the article connects a propensity for disgust to the corresponding socio-cultural and political zeitgeist. Specifically, it suggests that such imagery is tied to a more expansive ‘structure of feeling’, proposed by Raymond Williams and emergent since the 1970s, but gathering momentum in later decades, that reflects an ‘opening up’ of society in all its visual, socio-cultural and political configurations. Expressly, it parallels a change from a repressive, patriarchal society that constructed medicine as infallible and male doctors as omnipotent to one that is generally more liberated, transparent and equitable. Engaging theoretically with the concept of a ‘structure of feeling’, and critically with scientific, cinematic and cultural discourses, two post-1970s’ ‘mutation’ films, The Fly (1986) and District 9 (2009), are considered in relation to their pre-1970s’ predecessors, and their aesthetics related to the perceptions and articulations of the medical profession at their respective historic moments, locating such instances within a broader medico-political canvas.
Pheasant-Kelly, Frances (Edinburgh University Press, 2016-05)
From Destination Tokyo (1943) to Youngblood Hawke (1964), among many other films, few filmmakers created as unique a body of work in the US as Delmer Daves (1904-1977), but few filmmakers have been as critically overlooked in existing scholarly literature. Daves is often regarded as an embodiment of the self-effacing craftsmanship of classical and post-war Hollywood, which helps explain his relative neglect by film critics and scholars. As the first study of Daves's career, this collection in the ReFocus series seeks to deepen our understanding of the filmmaker and problematize existing conceptions of him as a competent by conventional studio man. Part of the ReFocus: The American Directors Series, which aims to bring influential, yet neglected, American directors to the attention of a new audience of scholars and students.
Coming out of an international conference in Paris on "Global Identities" at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes during April 2011, these essays begin from the lived experience of groups and individuals as they problematize and engage their own social connectivity and historical directionality. The authors help us to understand as they assemble these building blocks how we can best approach a broader understanding of the emerging global processes of identity formation. The essays in this volume are organized around the four major themes that emerged from the Conference: Re-Imagining Group Identity, Embracing Hybridity, The Challenges of Assimilation, and Locating the Individual in the New Terrain. The groupings highlight the critical tensions which characterize these liminal spaces: the search for new commonalities among emerging communities and social groupings; a brief survey of the essays will reveal the enormous richness of the topics under discussion, through ethnography, interviews, popular culture, literature and poetry, musicology, religion, the culinary arts, history, and social theory.
After a century of reinvention and reinterpretation, Western movies continue to contribute to the cultural understanding of the United States. Western archetypes remain important emblems of the American experience, relating a complex and coded narrative about heroism and morality, masculinity and femininity, westward expansion and technological progress, and assimilation and settlement. In this collection of new essays, 21 contributors from around the globe examine the "cowboy cool" iconography of film and television Westerns-from bounty hunters in buckskin jackets to the seedy saloons and lonely deserts.
Pheasant-Kelly, Frances (University of Lisbon, 2017)
Messengers from the Stars is an international, peer-reviewed journal, offering academic articles, reviews, and providing an outlet for a wide range of creative work inspired by science fiction and fantasy. It aims at promoting science fiction and fantasy in the humanities while, at the same time, providing a forum for discussion on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy by welcoming innovative approaches and critical methodologies to the critical and creative landscape
While the relationship between surveillance and/or voyeuristic viewing, control and horror is central to certain horror productions, including Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960), My Little Eye (Evans, 2002) and District 9 (Blomkamp, 2009), it is less obvious in the vampire film. However, the vampiric gaze exerts a more immediate and absolute form of power, causing its victims to fall prey to inevitable death and an extended afterlife. Although all vampire films tend to exploit these mesmeric aspects of Victorian culture, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), directed by Frances Ford Coppola, progresses the notion of ‘supernatural surveillance’. Coppola uses numerous creative visual techniques to accentuate the attention to eyes, notably in scenes that are linked to sexual desire and promiscuity. If the original novel implicitly reflected contemporaneous fears of venereal infection, namely syphilis, then Coppola’s film is preoccupied with AIDS. This article argues that the film’s attention to eyes and the gaze not only reflects the mesmerism associated with Victorian culture but also resonates with new forms of sociocultural watchfulness emerging in the AIDS era of the twentieth century.
Pheasant-Kelly, Frances (John Hopkins University Press, 2018-12-12)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel that centers on a scientist who collects organs and limbs from dead bodies to construct a new being, illustrates the complex, interwoven history of science and science fiction. The novel’s attention to the animation of assembled body parts reflects contemporaneous scientific interest in the reanimation of corpses by galvanism. In this article, I extend the science/science-fiction relationship developed in the novel by analyzing the visual differences between two of its subsequent film adaptations. Although scholars have extensively scrutinized and speculated about Shelley’s influences, limited consideration of contemporary scientific influences on later film versions exists.
This chapter examines strategies for surveillance in the film Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow, 2012) and considers the ways in which these reflect changes in real-world monitoring of both public and terrorist activities since 9/11. The film is particularly relevant to a consideration of surveillance and space because it charts the ten year search for Osama bin Laden across various locations, a mission that is accomplished through a combination of strategic physical and technological observation. Indeed, its visual style and narrative trajectory are dictated by surveillance, the film thereby epitomising its prevalence in contemporary visual culture since 9/11. The claim here is that the forms of surveillance exercised within the film embody a combination of the models articulated by Michel Foucault (1991) and Thomas Mathiesen (1997), which consider, respectively, how the few view the many and how the many watch the few. The film’s expression of surveillance is likewise concerned with the physical space between the observed and the observer, albeit this is often in terms of geographically greater or more technologically controlled distances. As in the real world situation, predictive profiling is also important, and, while the filmic version of bin Laden’s capture further rests on the seemingly intuitive conclusions of its female protagonist, Maya, this is reflective of the input of women CIA analysts in the search for him (Bergen, 2013: 77). Because it is a production based on real events, an analysis of the film offers opportunities to consider the implementation of real-world surveillance, the multiple forms that this can take, and its potential inadequacies as well as its increasing significance in combating terrorism.
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