Tag Archives: rachel sexton

As Time Goes By: The Legacy of Casablanca

Over the history of cinema, the term “classic” has become almost synonymous with the black and white films of the 1930’s and ‘40’s. This is not simply because they are old; many of them are just good movies. The reason for this probably rests with the fact that the studio system of production combined with filmmakers fully grasping what the art form was capable of. It’s no wonder that a film from this era, like Casablanca, can endure in a special way. Nostalgia plays an integral part in the love story in Casablanca, and in the lasting appeal the film continues to enjoy.

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Circus, But No Bread: The World of Panem in The Hunger Games

In 1516, Thomas More published Utopia, and the world learned a new word to describe a perfect society. Of course, the converse also had to emerge, so audiences have also enjoyed fictional accounts of when a society becomes the worst version of itself: the dystopia. This narrative is fertile ground for examining many themes. One recent popular and successful example is The Hunger Games trilogy. The world of Panem in The Hunger Games offers a profound commentary on the culture we live in as all good dystopian stories do because of the ways it bears a resemblance to our reality.

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Mission: Accomplished

Everyone knows the spy genre when they see it on screen. If you’re watching incredibly photogenic people in various incredibly photogenic locations around the globe (especially Europe’s capitol cities) doing incredibly photogenic and amazing physical feats, you’ve entered the world of international espionage. The success of James Bond in films in the ‘60s spurred many small-screen spies. One of these was Mission: Impossible, and it was a hit, running from 1966 to 1973. For over 20 years, the film franchise has been just as successful. Over the course of six installments, the Mission: Impossible series has improved in its treatment of female characters, its narrative continuity, and in maintaining its signature stunt work. Continue reading

Time for Love: Lucy/Wyatt/Jessica on Timeless

Familiar to any regular television watcher (or any YA novel reader), the love triangle trope has a long history and will probably never go away. Few use it well, however. The device itself lends to drama, so often that becomes the purpose of the storyline instead of furthering the relationships and character development. Timeless is a recent example of a love triangle done well on television. The Lucy/Wyatt/Jessica plotline is that rare thing—a love triangle well-executed for a vast majority of its screen time. Continue reading

Fight the Nothing: The NeverEnding Story

Experiencing stories not only exercises a child’s imagination, it also progresses their emotional development. When a child reads (or watches) a tale that touches them, they can learn more about the world around them and how to deal with the things in it. Particularly the difficult things. Many children’s novels do this. One of them is The NeverEnding Story. It serves an important purpose by providing kids with a fantastical way to process true life problems. Continue reading

The Magic of Love: J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series

Pretty much everyone loves movies and television. Most people would also add books or music (or both) to that list. But, no matter how popular a piece of entertainment is, we all experience things differently and our favorite stories become part of our identities for unique reasons. Each viewer or reader brings with them separate tastes, and different people can prefer different aspects of the same film or novel. What affects us the most varies from person to person. The Harry Potter series is a massive fandom, but I root my personal connection to it in its use of love. In her Harry Potter novels, J. K. Rowling develops and demonstrates the theme of love in all its forms as a force with power that her characters can use to combat evil. Continue reading

Love Can Be a Revolution: Doctor Zhivago

Recreating history has always been a draw for every storytelling medium but this is particularly true of cinema. The events of the past can be inherently dramatic, and nothing encapsulates conflict like a revolution. When a group of people stand up against a powerful government or oppressive regime to achieve better lives, their story can evoke emotions in unique ways. When a piece of fiction uses such a situation as a backdrop for a successful narrative like a love story, the result can be special. Doctor Zhivago is a perfect example. Its scope and intimacy illustrates parallels between history and emotion. Continue reading

Remaking Romance: Tristan and Isolde

A common complaint lodged against Hollywood is that it has no new stories. This is understandable, but it neglects to consider that certain narratives are timeless. They can appear with different external details but will always keep that impact on audiences which can be lasting. A story that is particularly effective at this is the romantic tragedy, and one such tale is about Tristan and Isolde. The different versions of Tristan and Isolde shows how reinterpretation can manifest itself across various mediums. Continue reading

The Amazing Amazon: Wonder Woman

Let’s say ten years ago you asked someone to name a superhero. You were likely to hear that person say Batman or Superman or maybe Spider-Man. Now, you might hear Iron Man or Captain America as well. But ask anyone at any point in time to name a female superhero and you will get one answer: Wonder Woman. Also known as Diana Prince, she is a vital part of the DC Comics pantheon and is still the most high-profile female comic book hero. The appeal of Wonder Woman is vast and has a deep and lasting cultural impact. Continue reading

More than Mammy: The Life of Hattie McDaniel

The situation for African-American actors in Hollywood is a constant topic of discussion in the industry, and for good reason because it needs improvement. (Remember the #OscarsSoWhite controversy a couple years back?) Black History Month seems like the perfect time to look back at the past for a source of inspiration that black actors working today can utilize going forward. The first African-American Oscar nominee and winner was Hattie McDaniel for 1939’s Gone With the Wind. She won for Best Supporting Actress. Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award win is an undeniable example of why she is a fascinating pioneer. Continue reading