Screening the Gothic

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Filmmakers have long been drawn to the Gothic with its eerie settings and promise of horror lurking beneath the surface. Moreover, the Gothic allows filmmakers to hold a mirror up to their own age and reveal society's deepest fears. Franco Zeffirelli's Jane Eyre, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet are just a few examples of film adaptations of literary Gothic texts. In this ground-breaking study, Lisa Hopkins explores how the Gothic has been deployed in these and other contemporary films and comes to some surprising conclusions. For instance, in a brilliant chapter on films geared to children, Hopkins finds that horror resides not in the trolls, wizards, and goblins that abound in Harry Potter, but in the heart of the family. Screening the Gothic offers a radical new way of understanding the relationship between film and the Gothic as it surveys a wide range of films, many of which have received scant critical attention. Its central claim is that, paradoxically, those texts whose affiliations with the Gothic were the clearest became the least Gothic when filmed. Thus, Hopkins surprises readers by revealing Gothic elements in films such as Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park, as well as exploring more obviously Gothic films like The Mummy and The Fellowship of the Ring. Written in an accessible and engaging manner, Screening the Gothic will be of interest to film lovers as well as students and scholars.