Conscious disguise and mistaken identity run through most of Shakespeare’s comedies as a theme, and they are central defining aspects of his romantic comedy. Underlying the pattern is a version of love which sees through superficialities to an inner compatibility between characters. It also raises questions of role-playing and its significance in love relationships. All these elements, in some shape or another, also occur regularly in Hollywood romantic comedy, and the disguises may involve not so much gender as in Shakespeare, but social and professional status. The rich impersonate poverty to test love, the poor play roles of higher social status to attract love, but the basic metaphor is as in Shakespeare’s disguised women in As You Like It and Twelfth Night.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.