SCREEN-L Archives

April 1994


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Alan Sondheim <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 11 Apr 1994 16:27:25 EDT
text/plain (40 lines)
In terms of Native American (NA) subject-matter as the basis for
utopia/dystopia, it's interesting to consider NA culture in general;
the difference elucidated particularly during the 19th century
between the "noble savage" vis-a-vis Rousseau, and the "injun" who
was corrupt, capable of torture, and so forth. On one hand NA was
being driven to extinction (which was also seen as part of manifest
distiny); on the other, the culture was perceived as both perfect and
anti-technological, a perception affecting our "reading" of John
Neihardt, for example. I believe it was Charles Gagnon whod did some
research on these themes in Quebec. I think the split still dominates
the American psyche, and may be a factor in the inability of the
hippies to leave a residue similar to the Green Party in Germany.
It's odd to consider that both utopia and dystopia "begin at home,"
occur in the midst of our notions of nativism and "motherland." It's
also instructive that our home soil is NEITHER "motherland" nor
"fatherland," but something perhaps far more troubling.
In regard to all of this, I remember a middle-class (white) Tasmanian
woman telling me in Hobart that "it's a good thing that the British
killed off all the natives, because the natives we're going to die
off anyway - they didn't even have fire."
Alan Sondheim
Check, by the way, the Hudson River School and the illuminist
painters of the West, not ot mention George Catlin and 19th-century
photography of NA. The Smithsonian had a catalog on the latter. Sorry
these are not directly cinematic references, but they surely infect
cinema more than any particular film..
                 [ // ] ...rain...
                                            [ \\ ]
                                               \\ ...still...