Home in Hollywood: The Imaginary Geography of Cinema

Home in Hollywood: The Imaginary Geography of Cinema

Home in Hollywood: The Imaginary Geography of Cinema

Home in Hollywood: The Imaginary Geography of Cinema

Synopsis

Who can forget Dorothy's quest for the great and powerful Oz as she tried to return to her beloved Kansas? She thought she needed a wizard's magic, only to discover that home -- and the power to get there -- had been with her all along. This engaging and provocative book proposes that Hollywood has created an imaginary cinematic geography filled with people and places we recognize and to which we are irresistibly drawn. Each viewing of a film stirs, in a very real and charismatic way, feelings of home, and the comfort of returning to films like familiar haunts is at the core of our nostalgic desire. Leading us on a journey through American film, Elisabeth Bronfen examines the different ways home is constructed in the development of cinematic narrative. Each chapter includes a close reading of such classic films as Fleming's The Wizard of Oz, Sirk's Imitation of Life, Burton's Batman Returns, Hitchcock's Rebecca, Ford's The Searchers, and Sayles's Lone Star.

Excerpt

On a bleak, rainy evening homicide detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) suddenly decides to leave the shelter of his living room. Although he will retire from the police force within a week, he is haunted by his final case, one that he had hoped would allow for a clean break from his past and, concomitant with this, for a new future far removed from the crime-ridden city in which he now resides. On the previous day (Monday) he had been called to a crime scene where an obese man, dressed only in his underwear, was found murdered—sitting at his kitchen table and facedown in a plate of spaghetti. His hands and feet had been tied together with wire to prevent him from getting up, so that he had to eat the food his killer forcibly fed him until his stomach burst. Somerset quickly realizes that because this murder must have taken more than twelve hours to complete, it represents not a random killing but a methodically conceived form of punishment. Not least, the risk of detection the murderer was willing to take convinces Somerset that the enactment of the murder itself is significant, consciously calculated for an intelligent spectator like himself who, because he is knowledgeable in the allegorical imagery of damnation and redemption, is able to decode its message. He is not surprised, then, when in the course of the autopsy the pathologist discovers bits of plastic mixed in with the food the victim had been forced to eat. Upon returning to the crime . . .

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