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April 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Alison McKee <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Apr 1994 00:32:00 PDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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> As regarding the utopian/dystopian thread: most of the films (not all)
> that have been pointed out so far have mainly been science-fiction - ]
> obviously, because this genre easily lends itself to utopian or
> dystopian society-models. However, there are several excellent films
> that present alternate societies without begin science-fiction.
Simon Haines' remark and Henry Jenkins' earlier posting on this thread
prompt me to wonder about the specific role that genre plays (especially
in classical Hollywood cinema) in negotiating the boundaries between
utopian/dystopian worlds.  Do the demands of classical story-telling take
precedence over generic constraints in the establishment/distestablishment
of the worlds (or world views) depicted in any given film, regardless of
genre?  Should the musical be discussed as a utopian genre?  (Well, sure,
if you're talking about LOVE ME TONIGHT, and not really, if you're
talking about SHOW BOAT -- either version.  And even Mamoulian's world has
its dystopic elements, come to think of it . . . as does the world of
screwball/remarriage comedies someone else alluded to . . .).  Are musicals
somehow "more" utopian than westerns?  Does the gangster film lend itself
to dystopian worlds?  On the surface of things, yes, but as soon as one
posits the question, it seems like all the conventional answers are no longer
Depends on what is specifically meant by "utpoian" and "dystopian," for
starters, I guess.
Alison McKee
Department of Film and Television
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