With the recent release of spectacular blockbuster films from Gladiator to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the epic has once again become a major form in contemporary cinema. This new volume in the AFI Film Readers series explores the rebirth of the epic film genre in the contemporary period, a period marked by heightened and conflicting appeals to national, ethnic, and religious belonging.The orginal essays in this volume explore the tension between the evolving global context of film production and reception and the particular provenance of the epic as an expression of national mythology and aspirations, challenging our understanding of epics produced in the present as well as our perception of epic films from the past. The contributors will explore new critical approaches to contemporary as well as older epic films, drawing on ideas from cultural studies, historiography, classics, and film studies.
Section 1: Spectacle
Chapter 1: Monica Silveira Cyrino, "'This is Sparta!' The Reinvention of the Epic in Zach Snyder's 300."
Chapter 2: Kirsten Thompson, "'Philip Never Saw Babylon:' 360 Degree Vision and the Historical Epic in the Digital Era."
Chapter 3: Leon Hunt, "Heroic Chivalry, Heroic Sacrifice: 'Martial Arthouse' as Epic Cinema."
Chapter 4: Robert Burgoyne, "Bare Life and Sovereignty in Gladiator."
Section 2: Center and Periphery
Chapter 5: Dina Iordanova, "'Rise of the Rest:' Globalizing Epic Cinema."
Chapter 6: Bettina Bildhauer, "Signs of the Times: The Semiotics of Time and Event in Sirk's Sign of the Pagan."
Chapter 7: Tom Conley, "The Fall of the Roman Empire: On Space and Allegory."
Chapter 8: Mark Jancovich, "'An Italianmade Spectacle Film Dubbed in English:' Cultural Distinctions, National Cinema and the Critical Reception of the Postwar Historical Epic."
Chapter 9: Ruby Cheung, "Red Cliff: The Chinese-Language Epic and Diasporic Chinese Spectators."
Section 3: Remembering the Nation
Chapter 10: Philip Wagner, "Passing Through Nightmares: Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman and the Epic Discourse in New Deal America."
Chapter 11: Bruce Babington, "Epos Indigenized: The New Zealand Wars Film From Rudall Hayward to Vincent Ward."
Section 4: The Family Epic
Chapter 12: Bhaskar Sarkar, in "Epic Melodrama, or Cine-Maps of the Global South."
Chapter 13: Anne Gselvik, "Black Blood: There Will Be Blood."
Section 5: The Body in the Epic
Chapter 14: Alison Griffiths, "The Monstrous Epic: Deciphering Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ."
Chapter 15: Saer Ba, "Reading the Black Body in Epic Cinema."
AFI Film Readers, published in cooperation with the American Film Institute, focus on important issues and themes in film and media scholarship.