Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Milton's Satan as Horror Movie Icon...brainstorming

Last year at SAMLA, as I sat through a panel that discussed the Saw movies as medieval morality plays, I started jotting down notes about a possible topic.
Original title: Milton Goes to the (Horror) Movies. Original movies for analysis: The Devil's Advocate, Constantine, The Prophecy. Looking at the portrayal of a humanistic angel, with "angelic" looks, capable of horrendous acts. Complexity of character. The fact that all of these works fall outside the normal purview of horror films because the presentation does not focus on the grotesque physical (of demons) but rather on the horrendous acts this "angel" commits.
The broader idea (and the heart of my obsession) about how the folkloric figure of Satan is portrayed in film. So- some brief, sketchy thoughts, that will at some point between now and November become my conference paper...

Milton's Paradise Lost is responsible for the modern idea of Satan: a character with a dual nature- that of a humanistic angel and a fierce demon. Nowhere is this more apparent than in modern horror films. Usually, the scholarly conversation focuses on literature analyzed with art. Rarely art analyzed with literature. I suggest that current film studies are incomplete by wanting to draw a strong line between film and literature analysis. An area that has been neglected is an examination of how literature has informed art, in this case, the visual art of movies.
It is not an approach without difficulty- it is difficult to delineate between archetype and character and in this era of reinvention it can be difficult to determine the difference between the original and the copy. However, I believe it is important to examine how great literary characters are portrayed in works not based on them. So, no movie adaptations of literary works that include the devil.

Anyway, those are the broad strokes. If anyone has any suggestions for films I should include, I'd welcome them. I'd like to have a broad spectrum of movies, spanning several decades. However, it has to fit the above criteria.
Thanks in advance for the help!

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