Sarah Salih
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Cinematic authenticity-effects and medieval art
A paradox
in Medieval film
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This chapter examines the contrasting uses, or non-uses, of medieval art objects in two medieval films and assesses how they contribute to the films' overall authenticity-effects. Both films are based on twentieth-century novels which share a knowing approach to the past, patching overt anachronism with real and apparent samples of medieval text. The chapter makes tentative contribution to a list of such characteristics: that the fragmented visual profile of the medieval makes medieval authenticity-effects particularly troublesome to produce. One of the few medieval films to refer explicitly to the art of the period, Perceval le Gallois, uses it to construct a non-mimetic aesthetic. The anti-mimetic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which various modes of the illusory medieval - chivalric glamour, earthy squalor, quotations of medieval forms - jostle with the rude interruptions of modernity, may be the paradigmatic medieval film, and is certainly a favourite of many medievalist.

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