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Author Topic: Rec: Film, Folklore and Urban Legends (Mikel J. Koven)  (Read 1703 times)
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« Topic Start: August 26, 2010, 04:19:19 pm »

Koven, Mikel J.  Film, Folklore and Urban Legends.  Scarecrow, 2008.

For those of us who like films and television shows that portray myth, folklore, the supernatural, etc., this is a fantastic examination.  Koven is making the first real attempt to hook up film studies with folkloristics:  prior folklore studies of films tended to be just "motif-spotting" ("Oh hey, there's an example of 'The Missing Corpse'!"); and prior film studies just tended to mention folklore in passing.  (The exception here is some of the scholarship on Disney films, but a lot of that tends to focus on how Disney made an interesting folktale bland and crappy.)  So if you want a real, dense study of folklore and film, here it is.  He's also a very clear, easy-to-read writer, with a great sense of humor:  his chapter on killer bee movies is hilarious.

I'm recommending it here because he has a chapter on the awesome 1970s horror film The Wicker Man, which the writer and director claimed to be about ancient Celtic paganism, but they lifted pretty much wholesale from Frazer -- and Frazer's stuff had a lot more to do with specifically Victorian fantasies of the "primitive" and of Empire than it did with actual history.  Koven has one of the clearest, most cogent takedowns of Frazer and his underlying assumptions -- which are also the underlying assumptions of bad Wiccan histories.  It's fantastic and readable, and is a great articulation of that late-Victorian stuff that Sunflower and I are always going on about.  Smiley

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