The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies

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Rutgers University Press, 1994 - Performing Arts - 384 pages
Filmmakers have often encouraged us to regard people with physical disabilities in terms of pity, awe, humor, or fearas "Others" who somehow deserve to be isolated from the rest of society. In this first history of the portrayal of physical disability in the movies, Martin Norden examines hundreds of Hollywood movies (and notable international ones), finds their place within mainstream society, and uncovers the movie industry's practices for maintaining the status quokeeping people with disabilities dependent and "in their place."

Norden offers a dazzling array of physically disabled characters who embody or break out of the stereotypes that have both influenced and been symptomatic of societys fluctuating relationship with its physically disabled minority. He shows us "sweet innocents" like Tiny Tim, "obsessive avengers" like Quasimodo, variations on the disabled veteran, and many others. He observes the arrival of a new set of stereotypes tied to the growth of science and technology in the 1970s and 1980s, and underscores movies like My Left Foot and The Waterdance that display a newfound sensitivity. Nordens in-depth knowledge of disability history makes for a particularly intelligent and sensitive approach to this long-overlooked issue in media studies.
 

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The cinema of isolation: a history of physical disability in the movies

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Norden (communication, Univ. of Massachusetts) analyzes the film industry's depiction of physically disabled characters from the era of silent films to the present. He criticizes several conceptual ap ... Read full review

Contents

introduction Politics Movies and Physical
1
Emergence of an Impoverished Image
14
The Misbegotten MultiReelers
49
Man of a Thousand Disabilities and His Brethren
74
GoldenAge Freakshows
109
The Road to Rehabilitation
145
The Path to Apathy
184
Moving toward the Mainstream
223
HighTech Heroics and Other Concerns
264
Reel Life after the Americans with
308
notes
325
selected bibliography
355
general index
363
film index
377
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