Forward into the past
Film theory’s foundation in medievalism
in Medieval film
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This chapter shows that all films have been considered medieval by a surprisingly large number of influential film theorists. It argues that the conceptualisation of film as medieval in its production, transmission, aesthetics or reception originates with the earliest attempts to come to terms with the new medium and underlies many influential film theories of the twentieth century and even the most recent media theories. The chapter shows the ways in which preconceived notions of the Middle Ages filtered into and were influenced by film theory throughout the twentieth century; and to what extent film theory relies on knowledge about the Middle Ages for its basic principles. The reliance of film theory on medievalism has never been acknowledged by film scholars. This is symptomatic of the traditional divide between medieval and modern studies, where the continuities and influences of medieval thought, art and culture on modernity are rarely researched.


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