One thing that I absolutely loved about studying film was the adorable film library. (Perhaps I shouldn't write in the past sense, but there is an entire summer between me and my dear film books.) Being a film nerd like me in this situation, I almost feels like Eve getting banned from the Garden of Eden. But of course she was always welcome back in the autumn - in exchange for life long education loans. Or should I check the Bible one more time?
The most wonderful thing about the library though, was their constant literature clean-outs - there were always some cool film book you just have to have, for just 20 SEK each.
...that's $2.50 for those of you who don't care about world economy. Jesus, you really should keep track on the Swedish currency. We almost took over the Earth once - but Charles XII was killed by a button and messed up everything. But don't feel safe just yet - in about a week there is a Swedish royal wedding, and new plans for taking over the planet will be presented...
His spawns are going to get you.
Where was I? Oh yeah, film books. The last day of school this spring I bought a book I can't believe I didn't already own, since the title is just awesome. It's Stanley Cavell's Pursuit of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage. I have just started to read it, but it is really refreshing to read some serious analyses of the, at the time and to a large extent still, most popular film genre Hollywood had to offer.
One common explanation for the popularity of this genre and its (very often) filthy rich protagonists, is the fact that the poor Depression era audiences wanted to satisfy their need for extravaganza by eye balling Ginger Rogers' feather gowns. (So called "fairy tales of the Depression".) Cavell offers another explanation, which I find a little more realistic and not as degrading as the first one, namely that the story wouldn't work in a regular Depression era life. The characters have to be able to afford to make drama about their relationship status, wonder who is the right one, whether they should marry/re-marry, etc. etc. The genre wasn't about standing in a bread queue or trying to find a job to support your family.
Well, Cavell puts it a little more delicately, of course.
What? A leopard is on the loose?
He also points out some interesting similarities between the "Hollywood comedies of remarriage" and Shakespeare's dramas - and that is quite the different era, telling us that certain themes obviously are popular throughout the ages. One similarity is the importance of the father/daughter relationship. In Shakespeare's works the father stands for the education of the daughter, as well as being the protector of her virginity. In the Hollywood films, take The Lady Eve (1941) for instance, the father often has the same function, although the virginity at stake is rather a psychological than physical one.
And of course, there are extensive "close readings" (a chapter each) of the following films. In short, 20 SEK for this book seems like quite the bargain, in my opinion. But of course, one can always watch films just because you enjoy them, without analyzing the celluloid out of them.
The first one guessing all of the films right gets five points.