Food, Film and Culture

A Genre Study


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About the Book

Culinary imagery, much like sexual and violent imagery, is a key cinematic device used to elicit a sensory response from an audience. In many films, culinary imagery is central enough to constitute a new subgenre, defined by films in which food production, preparation, service, and consumption play a major part in the development of character, structure, or theme.
This book defines the food film genre and analyzes the relationship between cinematic food imagery and various cultural constructs, including politics, family, identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and religion. Chapters examine these themes in several well-known food films, such as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Chocolat, Babette’s Feast, and Eat Drink Man Woman, and lesser-known productions, including Felicia’s Journey, Kitchen Stories, Magic Kitchen, and Chinese Feast. The work includes a filmography of movies within the food genre.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

James R. Keller is a professor and chair of the English and Theatre department at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. The author or editor of numerous works about popular culture, he lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Bibliographic Details

James R. Keller

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2616-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0908-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Cinematic Hunger Artists  1

1: The Allegory of Intemperance: Spenser and Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover  13

2: Itzam Revealed: Chocolat and the Mayan Cosmology  24

3: Scotland, PA: Macbeth, McMeat and McMurder  37

4: Four Little Caligulas: La Grande Bouffe, Consumption and Male Masochism  49

5: What’s Cooking?: Multiculturalism and Holiday Histrionics or a Banquet of Shouting  60

6: Mostly Martha: Appe/type and Stereo/tite  68

7: “Culinizing” the Female Form: Felicia’s Journey, Predation, and Cultural Imperialism  79

8: Dreaming of the Pure Vegetable Kingdom: Ecofeminism and Agriculture in A Thousand Acres and Antonia’s Line  94

9: The Kitchen Panopticon: Indeterminacy and the Myth of Objective Surveillance  109

10: Filming and Eating Italian: Big Night and Dinner Rush  124

11: A Chef in Love: The Fable of a Communist and Culinary Re-Evolution  141

12: The Artist in Exile: Babette’s and “Alexander’s Feast”  152

13: Family Suppers and the Social Syntax of Dissimilation  163

14: Food Fights: The Martial Chefs and Magical Arts of Asian Cinema  177

Conclusion  190

Appendix: Food Films  195

Bibliography  197

Index  203

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Recommended”—Choice
  • “I devoured this book…intriguing…a fine study”—Journal of Popular Culture