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Rethinking Anachronism for Medieval Film in Richard Donner’s Timeline

  • Margitta Rouse
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Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Medievalists have, albeit reluctantly, learnt to accept that literary and cinematic depictions of the Middle Ages frequently take liberties with historical accuracy. There seems to be a consensus that such liberties do little to refine our understanding of the Middle Ages, but mirror modern concerns and desires, instead.1 Three clichés, in particular, serve modern-day agendas: the Middle Ages as “lost ideal,” as “barbaric past,” and as “the site of timeless romantic values.”2 Some theorists suggest that medievalists should embrace inaccuracies, anachronisms, and clichés precisely because these “indicate the ways in which contemporary filmmakers infuse their work with modern concerns.”3

Keywords

Science Fiction Medieval Period Historical Accuracy Historical Consciousness Parallel World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Tison Pugh and Lynn T. Ramey, eds., Race, Class, and Gender in “Medieval” Cinema (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 6.Google Scholar
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  3. 4.
    Michael Crichton, Timeline (New York: Knopf, 1999).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Timeline, dir. Richard Donner (US: Paramount Pictures, 2003).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    For a discussion of the scientific background of the novel, see Joel N. Shurkin, “Crichton Travels in Time,” in The Science of Michael Crichton: An Unauthorized Exploration into the Real Science behind the Fictional Worlds of Michael Crichton, ed. Kevin Robert Grazier (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2008), pp. 85–105.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Richard Burt in his Medieval and Early Modern Film and Media (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010),Google Scholar
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    Monty Python and the Holy Grail, dir. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones (UK: Columbia Pictures, 1974).Google Scholar
  27. 42.
    On military technology in the medieval period see for example Jim Bradbury’s The Medieval Siege (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1992), p. 9, or more recently,Google Scholar
  28. Helen J. Nicholson’s Medieval Warfare: Theory and Practice of War in Europe, 300–1500 (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 96. Crichton cites several works on this subject in his bibliography.Google Scholar
  29. 46.
    All quotations from the film are my transcriptions from the DVD release of Timeline, dir. Richard Donner (US: Paramount Pictures, 2003d).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew James Johnston, Margitta Rouse, and Philipp Hinz 2014

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  • Margitta Rouse

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