Mediating the Family: Family Representations in Contemporary American Film

By Isolde Vanhee.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The all-American family is being revitalized in current American film. Looking at three recent film productions, this paper will analyze how contemporary representations of the family interact with different genres, authors and historical settings. In A History of Violence (2005, David Cronenberg), The New World (2005, Terrence Malick) and War of the Worlds (2005, Steven Spielberg) the family respectively faces an alien invasion from the big city, from another continent and from another planet. Set in different times of American history, correlating with different film genres and visualized by three leading directors the myth of the all-American family is being transformed both in its formal appearance as well as in its meaning. Using both an aesthetic and a social perspective, this paper will illuminate these transformations, revealing at the same time whether or not the newborn family ultimately saves the day and in one strike secures the future of the nation.

Keywords: Family, Genre, American Film, Myth, Nation

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 10, pp.199-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 526.308KB).

Dr Isolde Vanhee

Lecturer, Doctoral Researcher, Sint-Lucas Visual Arts Faculty, The Institute for Higher Education in the Sciences and the Arts, Ghent, Belgium

Isolde Vanhee, The Institute for Higher Education in the Sciences and the Arts, Sint-Lucas Visual Arts Faculty, Belgium. Isolde Vanhee teaches and publishes on film and visual culture. She has a Master’s Degree in Art Science. She teaches ‘Film History’, ‘Analysis of Visual Culture’ and ‘Audiovisual Media’ at the Institute for Higher Education in the Sciences and the Arts. She is currently writing a doctoral dissertation about the representation of the family in American genre cinema. She is a member of the Film and Television Studies Working Group of the Department of Communication Sciences at Ghent University. The Working Group concentrates on the role of film, television and other audiovisual media in spreading societal values, tastes and ideology. Other research interests include animation in film and advertising, video art, motion graphics and film title design.


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