Monthly Archives: November 2019

Lisa Duffy presents ‘Masculine Anxiety in Musical Fantasy Realms’


‘Postwar Hollywood films often centred on ‘wanderers’, characters who were specifically ‘trying to leave behind the tensions of a modern world for the clarity of another place’ (Polan 1986: 264-265). While most of these filmic wanderers escape to real world locations, the choice to set the site of escape in an impossible fantastic realm allows the whole of the film to function much in the way of dream sequences, deeply focused on revealing inner desires and seeking to subvert dominant Hollywood narratives. Fantasy settings allow more space to explore deeper issues, with the action unfolding in realms not bound to the normal rules of reality. These films grapple with ideas of national loyalty and the effects of an American life. The fantasy realm acts as a sort of mirror world to America, exposing hidden anxieties and exaggerating tensions through the distortion of the real world. Instead of a tight focus on the desires of one character (as in dream sequences), we can pull back for richer interpretations of various aspects of society. In Brigadoon, this will materialise in a contrast between the practised masquerade of gender displayed by the modern outsiders with the more natural, fluid identities of the villagers. Modern masculinity is presented as an unnatural mask, standing as a stark contrast to the pastoral masculinity untouched by corruptive postwar influences. The visitors must learn to throw off this false masculinity or else be banished from the utopian Brigadoon forever.’

Thursday, 21 November, 5:15pm, ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema


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