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March 2009, Week 2


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"Frank, Michael" <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 9 Mar 2009 12:15:26 -0400
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it's possible, michelle, that early on in this thread you indicated that you were using benjamin's notion of allegory . . .  if you did i must have missed it and have responded based on a literary  [rather than philosophical] model of allegory . . . for those of us who come to these discussions from a more [narrowly] frame of reference, could you give some idea of what allegory was for benjamin

[i realize of course that summarizing benjamin is notoriously difficult, but even a few clues would be useful]




-----Original Message-----
From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michelle Langford
Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 1:35 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] Allegorical Films

Hi all thanks  so far for the wonderful suggestions:

Below is a list of a few films that I consider to be allegorical.

Note, however, many of these cannot simply be reduced to a statement of X

film is an allegory of Y. Many of them I consider to be allegorical on the

level of style and structure. Many are films  that (for me) strongly evoke

aspects of Walter Benjaminıs theory of allegory, which he discusses in his

book ­Origin of the German Trauerspiel. Additionally, it is crucial to point

out that these films generally sit within what Benjamin termed ³modern

allegory² (which he argues emerged in the 17th century ‹ Benjamin analyses

the works of the Spanish playwrights eg. Calderon and bitterly opposes his

Œnewı theory of allegory to the German Romantic movementıs (eg.

Schopenhauer) take on allegory). ³Modern allegory² must also be

differentiated from the kinds of Œdidacticı allegorical works prior to the

17th century and tends to take on a subversive potential.

That said, however, the course I am writing will look at numerous approaches

to allegory, including taking up the contentious statements by Paul de Mann

(³all interpretation is allegorical) and Fredrick Jamieson ³All third world

literature is allegorical).

(this is a selected list of the kinds of films I already have on my list)

Cria Cuervos (Carlos Saura)

The Day I Became a Woman (Marziyeh Meshkini)

Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (Buda as sharm foru rikht, Iran, Hanah

Makhmalbaf, 2007)

(In fact most of Mohsen Makhmalbafıs work is relevant here as is that of

Bahram Beizai and Majid Majidi)

 Panıs Labyrinth (El Laberinto del fauno, Spain/Mexico, Guillermo del Toro,


 Raise Ravens (Cria Cuervos, Spain, Carlos Saura, 1976)

Land in Anguish or Antonio das Mortes)

Ararat (Canada/France, Atom Egoyan, 2002)

The Female Patriot (Die Patriotin, Germany, Alexander Kluge, 1979)

The Proposition (Australia, John Hillcoat, 2005)

Silences of the Palaces (Samt el qusur, Tunisia, Moufida Tlatli, 1994)

Viridiana (Mexico/Spain, Luis Buñuel, 1961)



Dr Michelle Langford


School of English, Media and Performing Arts

The University of New South Wales

Sydney 2052 Australia

Room: Webster 311O

Phone: + 61 2 9385 4489

Fax: + 61 2 9385 6812


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