Royal Portraits in Hollywood: Filming the Lives of Queens

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9780813125435: Royal Portraits in Hollywood: Filming the Lives of Queens

Few lives provide as much history or drama as those of monarchs. Filmmakers from the silent era to onward have displayed a deep fascination with the lives of royalty and with queens in particular. Still, the question remains: what do these films really tell us about the women beneath the crowns?

Drawing on films from the 1930s to those of today, Royal Portraits in Hollywood: Filming the Lives of Queens investigates the ways in which these films reproduce history and represent women. Though hardly progressive in nature, many early films offered an acceptable, nonthreatening way to present strong female characters in an economic and social landscape run almost exclusively by men. Authors Elizabeth Ford and Deborah Mitchell track the evolution of queens on film, noting how depictions of prominent women have changed over the past several decades and calling attention to the ways in which films both reflect and dictate the social norms of their eras.

By comparing historical records of monarchs such as Queen Christina of Sweden, Catherine the Great, Cleopatra, and Elizabeth I with their onscreen personas, and examining the biographical details of the actresses who portrayed these women, Ford and Mitchell present a fascinating inquiry into issues of historical accuracy and gender politics in film.

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From the Inside Flap:

In the history of cinema, many film genres have gained and lost popularity with the changing times, but one has maintained its supreme reign -- the royal biopic. In Royal Portraits in Hollywood: Filming the Lives of Queens, authors Elizabeth A. Ford and Deborah C. Mitchell follow the lives of historical queens as depicted on film from the 1930s to the present. Women as diverse as Catherine the Great, Cleopatra, Mary Stuart, and Marie Antoinette have been represented on the silver screen, dominating the masculine world of politics while maintaining their femininity. During the golden age of American film, these roles gave Hollywood a means of portraying powerful women without threatening the patriarchal social order. Depictions of the lives of queens have progressed from idealized and romanticized portraits to the more personal, complex portrayals of modern Hollywood. By walking the line between fact and fiction, these royal portraits of queens reveal just as much our society as they do about the historical periods they represent.

Audiences are drawn to the theaters year after year because the lives of queens promise good drama and attract some of the most talented actresses. The success of Hollywood's leading ladies in playing queens further solidifies the link between Hollywood royalty and authentic royalty. Actresses such as Bette Davis, Judy Dench, Helen Mirren, Elizabeth Taylor, and Greta Garbo have done more than influence the way we imagine historical queens -- they also have changed how we perceive women in powerful positions today.

Royal Portraits in Hollywood analyzes seventy-five years of films about queens as well as the lives of the actresses who starred in them. Combining biographical sketches and excerpts from letters and journals, Ford and Mitchell show how filmmaking and our society's perceptions of gender have changed. The authors compare Hollywood's on-screen portrayals to the historical records, often drawing connections to the actresses' careers and personal lives. This comprehensive analysis provides a more complete picture of the lives that take place behind the thrones -- both real and fictional.

The spectacle of a woman dressed in the full regalia of power remains a compelling image in our society. Hollywood actresses and the queens they portray are women who wield power, and by examining the lives of these women, the authors reveal not only society's perceptions about female power but also how those perceptions continue to evolve.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Ford, professor emeritus of English at Westminster College, is coauthor, along with Deborah Mitchell, of The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941–2002.

Deborah Mitchell, associate professor of English at Westminster College, is author of Diane Keaton: Artist and Icon.

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Book Description The University Press of Kentucky, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 231 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Few lives provide as much history or drama as those of monarchs. Filmmakers from the silent era onward have displayed a deep fascination with the lives of royalty and with queens in particular. Still, the question remains: what do these films really tell us about the women beneath the crowns? Drawing on films from the 1930s to those of today, Royal Portraits in Hollywood investigates the ways in which these films reproduce history and represent women. Though hardly progressive in nature, many early films offered a nonthreatening way to present strong female characters in an economic and social landscape run almost exclusively by men. Elizabeth A. Ford and Deborah C. Mitchell track the evolution of queens in film, noting how depictions of prominent women have changed over the past several decades and calling attention to the ways in which films both reflect and dictate the social norms of their eras. By comparing historical records of monarchs such as Queen Christina of Sweden, Catherine the Great, Cleopatra, and Elizabeth I with their onscreen personas, Ford and Mitchell present a fascinating inquiry into issues of historical accuracy and gender politics in film. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780813125435

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Book Description The University Press of Kentucky, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 231 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Few lives provide as much history or drama as those of monarchs. Filmmakers from the silent era onward have displayed a deep fascination with the lives of royalty and with queens in particular. Still, the question remains: what do these films really tell us about the women beneath the crowns? Drawing on films from the 1930s to those of today, Royal Portraits in Hollywood investigates the ways in which these films reproduce history and represent women. Though hardly progressive in nature, many early films offered a nonthreatening way to present strong female characters in an economic and social landscape run almost exclusively by men. Elizabeth A. Ford and Deborah C. Mitchell track the evolution of queens in film, noting how depictions of prominent women have changed over the past several decades and calling attention to the ways in which films both reflect and dictate the social norms of their eras. By comparing historical records of monarchs such as Queen Christina of Sweden, Catherine the Great, Cleopatra, and Elizabeth I with their onscreen personas, Ford and Mitchell present a fascinating inquiry into issues of historical accuracy and gender politics in film. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780813125435

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