Medieval film' forces us into a double-take on chronology. This book argues that such a playful confusion of temporalities is a fundamental characteristic not just of the term but also of medieval films themselves. Medieval films reflect on the fact that they make present a past that was never filmable and offer alternatives to chronological conceptions of time. The book 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. It 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. The reliance of film theory on medievalism has never been acknowledged by film scholars. The book 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. It explores to what extent medieval film engages with questions of language, and to what extent these engagements may be distinctive. Cinematic medievalism participated in and drew on a wider cultural and political preoccupation with the Middle Ages. Romanticism posited the Middle Ages as an alternative, utopian realm promising creative and political possibility. The book argues that certain films with medieval themes and settings, mostly dating from the 1940s to the 1960s, demonstrate a surprising affinity with the themes and techniques associated with film noir.
textual sources, information which might itself then become part of the
The remainder of this chapter examines the contrasting
uses, or non-uses, of medievalartobjects 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
guide’s “lover stepping / out of bed in that odd, delicate way of his.” The book of hours that constitutes this small poem is, therefore, not just, or not even most importantly, the medievalart-object that an art historian presents to a crowd of easily bored spectators; it’s a way of talking about the interpenetration of times and places, in the presence of a catalyzing object experienced in community. You could call it a metaphor, except the book, for the poem, isn’t just a way of talking about something else. It’s there on display as more than just a figurative