Movie Medievalism

The Imaginary Middle Ages


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About the Book

This work offers a theoretical introduction to the portrayal of medievalism in popular film. Employing the techniques of film criticism and theory, it moves beyond the simple identification of error toward a poetics of this type of film, sensitive to both cinema history and to the role these films play in constructing what the author terms the “medieval imaginary.”

The opening two chapters introduce the rapidly burgeoning field of medieval film studies, viewed through the lenses of Lacanian psychoanalysis and the Deleuzian philosophy of the time-image. The first chapter explores how a vast array of films (including both auteur cinema and popular movies) contributes to the modern vision of life in the Middle Ages, while the second is concerned with how time itself functions in cinematic representations of the medieval. The remaining five chapters offer detailed considerations of specific examples of representations of medievalism in recent films, including First Knight, A Knight’s Tale, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Kingdom of Heaven, King Arthur, Night Watch, and The Da Vinci Code. The book also surveys important benchmarks in the development of Deleuze’s time-image, from classic examples like Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Kurosawa’s Kagemusha through contemporary popular cinema, in order to trace how movie medievalism constructs images of the multivalence of time in memory and representation.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Nickolas Haydock is professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. In addition to movie medievalism and film, he also writes about medieval Scots literature.

Bibliographic Details

Nickolas Haydock

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3443-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5137-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface     1

Part One: An Introduction to Movie Medievalism      3

1. The Medieval Imaginary     5

2. Time Machines      36

Part Two: The Imaginary Middle Ages      79

3. The Waywardness of Cinematic Pastiche in First Knight and A Knight’s Tale      81

4. Shooting the Messenger: Luc Besson at War with Joan of Arc      111

5. Theaters of War: Paracinematic Returns to the Kingdom of Heaven      134

6. Digital Divagations in a Hyperreal Camelot: Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur      165

7. Postmedieval Paranoia: The New Middle Ages of Night Watch and The Da Vinci Code      187

Chapter Notes      209

Works Cited      221

Index      229

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Haydock has produced a book that takes steps towards moving the study of movie medievalism into a new academic rigor…Haydock has pointed a new way forward and has challenged others in this field to follow him. If the strengths of his book are anything to go by, the path will be a productive one”—The Medieval Review
  • “Haydock has written a thoughtful and thorough survey of films with medieval themes, with a connoisseur’s attention to the traditions in film on which they draw”—Reference & Research Book News