Filming the Middle Ages

Bettina Bildhauer

Filming the Middle Ages

Bettina Bildhauer

Distributed for Reaktion Books

264 pages | 100 halftones | 5 1/2 x 9 | © 2011
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9781861898081 Published March 2011 For sale in North and South America only
E-book $40.00 ISBN: 9781861899279 Published June 2013

In this groundbreaking account of film history, Bettina Bildhauer shows how from the earliest silent films to recent blockbusters, medieval topics and plots have played an important but overlooked role in the development of cinema.

Filming the Middle Ages
is the first book to define medieval films as a group and trace their history from silent film in Weimar Germany to Hollywood and then to recent European co-productions. Bildhauer provides incisive new interpretations of classics like Murnau’s Faust and Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky, and she rediscovers some forgotten works like Douglas Sirk’s Sign of the Pagan and Asta Nielsen’s Hamlet. As Bildhauer explains, both art house films like The Seventh Seal and The Passion of Joan of Arc and popular films like Beowulf or The Da Vinci Code cleverly use the Middle Ages to challenge modern ideas of historical progress, to find alternatives to a print-dominated culture, and even to question what makes us human. Filming the Middle Ages pays special attention to medieval animated and detective films and provactively demonstrates that the invention of cinema itself is considered a return to the Middle Ages by many film theorists and film makers.

Filming the Middle Ages
is ideal reading for medievalists with a stake in the contemporary and film scholars with an interest in the distant past.


What is Medieval Film? An Introduction
(film: The Blind Director)  

Part I: Time’s Bow

1. The Non-linear Time of Medieval Film
(films: Faust and Destiny)

2. The Medieval Dead Reanimated
(films: Golem, Hard to Be a God, Waxworks, The Seventh Seal, and Siegfried)

3. Queer Time
(films: Hamlet, Lady Venus and her Devil, Dreamship Surprise, Abelard, Joan of Arc, Ferryman Maria, and The Immortal Heart)

Part II: Lethal Letters

4. The Dangerous Power of Writing
(films: The Secret of Kells, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Pope Joan, and Sign of the Pagan)

5. The Printing Press vs the Cathedral
(films: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Copernicus, and The Adventures of Don Quixote)

6. Detecting the Middle Ages
(films: The Da Vinci Code, A Canterbury Tale, The Name of the Rose)

Part III: Human Limits

7. The Birth of the Leader from the Collective
(films: Condottieri, Luther, and Alexander Nevsky)

8. The Nation’s Lost Past
(films: Nibelungen Films, 1924, 1966, 2004)

9. Animation and the Human between Animal and Cyborg
(films: Jester Till, Beowulf, and The Adventures of Prince Ahmed)

Film’s Reliance on Medievalism: A Conclusion



Index of Medieval Films
General Index

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