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The “Wind of Change” Blows Home: The Servant, Genre Hybridity, and Sixties Social Upheaval

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The Centre for Film, Media, Discourse and Culture at the University of Wolverhampton warmly invites you to the second of its online Autumn Semester Lecture series

17.00-18.30 Wednesday December 2nd

Online

Dr Christopher Weedman (Middle Tennessee State University)

The “Wind of Change” Blows Home: The Servant, Genre Hybridity, and Sixties Social Upheaval

Abstract

The Servant is considered a landmark of 1960s British cinema. Not only did this 1963 film hail Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter as one of British cinema’s foremost director-screenwriter teams, but it also firmly cemented former matinee idol Dirk Bogarde’s post-Victim (1961) reputation as an actor specializing in complex roles of psychological and sexual ambiguity. The film’s enigmatic tale of a master-servant power struggle is routinely examined through the prism of the new British art cinema of the 1960s due to the trademark modernist styles of Losey (self-conscious visuals) and Pinter (elliptical dialogue). Yet the film’s indebtedness to the popular genre conventions and visual styles of Gothic horror and film noir has long been neglected by film critics and scholars. Drawing upon theories of exile and genre, formalist analysis, and postwar British cultural history, this talk examines how The Servant subversively employs Gothic horror and film noir elements to create a darkly satirical portrait of pre-Swinging London, which critiques Macmillan-era conservative anxiety about impending social, sexual, and political upheaval.

About the Speaker:

Christopher Weedman is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the Department of English at Middle Tennessee State University in the United States. His research examines the intersections between film history, censorship, and the 1960s British “permissive society.” His scholarship on the films of Joseph Losey has appeared in Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Senses of Cinema, and the edited collection Fifty Hollywood Directors (Routledge, 2015). He is currently at work on the forthcoming biography Anne Heywood: Beauty and Sex in the Controversial Film (University Press of Mississippi), and the edited collection Adult Themes: British Cinema and the “X” Rating, 1958-1972 (Bloomsbury) with Benjamin Halligan.

All welcome. Please contact Fran Pheasant-Kelly at f.e.pheasant-kelly@wlv.ac.uk for any queries

"We ask that this talk is only attended by those over eighteen years of age."

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