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January 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
BRIAN TAVES <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Jan 1994 11:41:11 GMT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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          The summary posting on magical realism raised again a few nagging
          questions I had been having all along, perhaps reflecting my  own
          interest in the generic approach to fantasy. It seems a couple of
          the secondary examples, especially Field of Dreams and Heaven Can
          Wait (either version), fall into the conventional expectations of
          the  Hollywood  mainstream  formula  for  the  fantasy  film.  By
          contrast, I  had  thought  that  the  key  if  not  the principal
          distinguishing element of magical realism must be its basis in  a
          certain social or sociological viewpoint behind the narrative and
          frequent  roots  in  folklore outside  of  the  dominant  Western
          culture.  Otherwise,  the  simple  journey  into  a  make-believe
          netherworld where magic is a possibility is  a standard Hollywood
          genre.  (I  don't  mean  magic  as  basic  wish-fulfillment,  but
          embodied  in  such  manifestations  as  guardian  angels,  flying
          carpets, etc.) For instance, is there  a difference between Field
          of Dreams and Heaven Can  Wait  vs.  The Thief  of Bagdad or  The
          Jungle Book and Lost Horizon? I fail to see it. Magical realism I
          would think, by  its  very nature  and commitment to  a political
          perspective, must  remain almost entirely out  of  the  realm  of
          mainstream production, generally precluding the  Hollywood  genre
          of "fantasy".
          These are just some initial reactions to what  I  find  to  be  a
          fascinating question in  a discussion that has provided some very
          worthwhile ideas to contemplate.
          Brian Taves, Motion Picture Division
          Library of Congress