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Picture of Celluloid Saviours

Celluloid Saviours

Angels and Reform Politics in Hollywood Film

Author(s): Emily Caston

Book Description

In Celluloid Saviours, the author analyses a corpus of US films dating from the silent era that she calls film blanc. In these fantasy films a guardian spirit with extraordinary powers suspends the ordinary, known laws of time and space, and a main character reforms himself or herself in life-changing ways.

The author argues that the historical pattern of film blanc relates to the rise and fall of liberal and reform thought in US politics, specifically to conceptions of human nature as a tabula rasa. This conception is evident both in the early feature films featuring angels such as Chaplin’s The Kid and much later examples such as the 1980s box office hit, Trading Places.

She argues that this narrative tradition runs from Hollywood’s beginnings to the present day and is foreshadowed in the English ghost stories of Charles Dickens. The classic era of film blanc is epitomised in the enduringly popular film, It’s a Wonderful Life. More recent examples of narrative form analysed by Caston include The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-2269-5
ISBN-10: 1-4438-2269-8
Date of Publication: 01/08/2010
Pages / Size: 220 / A5
Price: £39.99


Dr Emily Caston is Course Director of Film and Television at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, and a Governor of Film London. For 12 years until 2003, she produced music videos and TV commercials for Ridley Scott Associates and other production companies in New York, Los Angeles and London. Her videos for artists such as Madonna, U2, and Portishead, have won numerous prestigious industry awards and critical acclaim.