Academic journal article Film & History

Introduction

Academic journal article Film & History

Introduction

Article excerpt

As their titles suggest, the essays in this special issue of Film & History examine not just "love" but the many disturbances - institutional exploitation, psychological violence, domestic peril, racial lust - attending it. Love is patient and kind only rarely in film and television, perhaps only rarely in life; it is frequently obsessive or sentimental or insidious. Love is fraught with ugly impulses. Art has always warned us of such. For idealists, of course, these sordid manifestations might not qualify as "love" in the first place, but restricting them from our definition leaves us with either crude tautology (only ideal love is real love) or infinite regress (love is not obsession, not sentimentality, not insidiousness... ). The point of studying love in a principled way is to recognize the complexity of its presence.

Understanding how love operates in the world of art, which exerts both social and generic constraints on our emotions, also helps us see how a larger, often unexamined set of desires or habits or anxieties can sneak in to our lives to magnify, distort, or even dissolve our most powerful emotions. Moreover, because a topos such as love acquires structure once it is developed by a narrative art, these essays helps us see how love evolves - or fails to.

The 2012 Film & History Conference (Sept. 26-30, 2012, Hyatt Regency, Milwaukee, USA) will examine the power of myth in film, television, and the other moving-image arts. As a collective pattern, myth transcends the individual, yet it provides structure to our most personal feelings and assumptions. It can be subtle or obvious, shallow or complex. …

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