Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film

Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film

Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film

Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film

Synopsis

'Reel Food' is devoted to food as a key element of film, featuring original essays by major food studies scholars, including Carole Counihan and Michael Ashkenazi. The contributors draw attention to the various ways in which food is employed to make meaning in film.

Excerpt

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Whenever I told friends I was working on a book about food and film, they instantly tossed out the names of movies that occurred to them, usually ones in which a main character is a professional cook, like Stanley Tucci and Scott Campbell's Big Night (1995), Gabriel Axel's Babette's Feast (Babette's gaestehud 1987), or Claire Denni's Chocolat (1989), or those in which food formulates a dominant symbol system, as in Marco Ferreri's Blow-Out (La Grante Bouffe, 1973). As our conversations continued, it was clear that few of them realized how often filmmakers in all film genres turn to food to communicate important aspects of characters' emotions, along with their personal and cultural identities; nor did my friends necessarily perceive the intricate ways in which ethnic, religious, sexual, and philosophical aspects of narratives are communicated through food. So I'd find myself giving them examples from the essays in this collection; or I'd turn to some recent movie they wouldn't think had that much to do with food. Take, for instance, Stephen Daldry's The Hours (2002), a movie one certainly wouldn't put in the “food film” category. Not only does food underscore thematic points in the film, but the movie's three protagonists-Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown, and Clarissa Vaughan (known to her former lover and now dear but dying friend Richard as “Mrs. Dalloway”)-are in part characterized by their interactions with food.

As depicted in The Hours, Woolf (played by Nicole Kidman) has servants who prepare all the household's food-we see them chopping bloody meat, mixing pastry dough, and performing other kitchen work. The effete Woolf, however, is portrayed in this film as distant from and uncomfortable with

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