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Motion Pictures

Travel Ideals in Film

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Edited By Gemma Blackwood and Andrew McGregor

This volume examines representations and explorations of travel ideals in contemporary international cinema. It assembles work from a diverse range of academic fields including anthropology, sociology, ethnography, cinema, culture, tourism, communication and language studies, with contributions from international experts such as Mary Louise Pratt of New York University, whose work on ‘contact zones’ continues to provide the framework for scholarship on travel writing around the world. The volume explores the link between filmed spaces and real locations, with one of the fundamental dynamics being the investigation of filmmaking itself, and in particular the notion that cultural authenticity may be sought and found by filming ‘on location’. Also examined are the notions of fantasy and exoticism that arise through an idealisation of the locations themselves and their transformational impact on the protagonists who travel there. Such is the impact of motion pictures on contemporary culture that these travel ideals in film will inevitably influence our understanding of cities, regions, nations and cultures; indeed, the world around us and our role in it.
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Chapter Eight: Scenes of Black Masculinity and Wanderlust: Gendered Mobility and Film Diaspora in The Emperor Jones

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MICHAEL RA-SHON HALL

CHAPTER EIGHT

Scenes of Black Masculinity and Wanderlust: Gendered Mobility and Film Diaspora in The Emperor Jones

Robeson’s greatest contribution to black film history – and the aspect of his work that most disturbed American white moviegoers – was his proud, defiant portrait of the black man. In his best-known film, The Emperor Jones (1933), Robeson portrays O’Neill’s black man who refuses to kowtow to anyone – Brutus Jones, an arrogant, strong-willed braggart, who rises from Pullman porter to autocrat.

Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks, 2009

The climax of Jones’s death becomes a black social variant of the inevitability of Greek tragedy given new meaning through an artful use of environmentalism […] When Jones dies in a revolt, he is not a Pullman toady or a high-roller under the stairwell; he is a black king dying in pain and rage at his demeaning fall.

Thomas Cripps, Slow Fade to Black, 1993

Introduction

The Emperor Jones is a 1933 film adaptation of the 1920 Eugene O’Neill play of the same title, directed by Dudley Murphy, featuring Paul Robeson, Ruby Elzy, Dudley Digges, Frank H. Wilson, and Fredi Washington. Loosely based on the O’Neill drama, the film follows Brutus Jones (Robeson) a newly hired Pullman porter from a rural town who leaves his wife Dolly (Elzy) to travel for work. Brutus quickly succumbs to ← 151 | 152 → vices of the big city, accidently stabs and...

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