Fathers and Sons in Cinema

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About the Book

Popular American films are replete with story lines which involve the father-son relationship, often as the pivotal conflict or dragon which a hero must overcome to achieve success. Sometimes these conflicts are straightforward; other times they are projections of the central character’s unconscious becoming conscious—in essence a modern form of myth.
These American “filmmyths” serve as a visual means to project the psyche in an entertaining and easily accessible manner. Focusing on mythic structure, this volume explores 12 popular movies that deal with various aspects of the father-son relationship including the process of becoming a father, absent fathers, the rite of passage, and the turmoil between fathers and adolescents. Films examined include The Wizard of Oz, Back to the Future, Stand By Me, Red River, City Slickers, North by Northwest, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Field of Dreams, Lone Star, The Lion King, Jurassic Park and The Searchers.

About the Author(s)

Former film and music teacher Gershon Reiter lives in Israel.

Bibliographic Details

Gershon Reiter
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 247
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3788-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9141-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface: The Ties That Bind: Fathers and Sons and the Dragon Between Them      1

Introduction: Myths and Filmmyths     5


Part I—Rites of Passage      19

1. The Wizard of Oz: Follow the Metaphor Road      22

2. Back to the Future: A Rematch Made in Time      32

3. Stand by Me: Descent to the Netherworld      47

Part II—Go West, Young Man, Go West      59

4. Red River: Holdfast and Drawfast      62

5. City Slickers: Ride of Passage      75

6. North by Northwest: O for Oedipus      89

Part III—Absent Fathers      107

7. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial: Advent of the Absent Father      111

8. Field of Dreams: Father Denied      128

9. Lone Star: Forget the Dragon      145

Part IV—Becoming a Father      161

10. The Lion King: A Picture of Fatherhood      165

11. Jurassic Park: Fatherhood Repressed      181

12. The Searchers: Slaying the Dragon      195

Notes      221

Selected Bibliography      225

Index      227

Book Reviews & Awards

“a thoughtful and passionate exploration of that most timeless of literary and cinematic themes: the search for fathers and sons to find each other and to reconcile their relationship. This book is filled with striking insights and provocative ideas”—Sam Osherson, author of Finding Our Fathers and a professor of Psychology at the Fielding Graduate University.