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The Return of the Epic Film$
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Andrew Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748684021

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684021.001.0001

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Epic Stumbling Blocks

Epic Stumbling Blocks

(p.167) Chapter 10 Epic Stumbling Blocks
The Return of the Epic Film

Saër Maty Bâ

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter challenges the blind spots of the epic film, in what is here termed an ‘epic stumbling block’. Carrying forward ongoing studies of ‘black’ bodies as unchained to conceptions, this chapter analyses Zulu and 300 among other epic films to discuss the visibility of the black body. While making these bodies relate, converse and synchronize, it argues that in epic cinema, or any epic film, ‘black’ bodies analysed carefully reveal an intricate set of theoretical “rhizomes” (Deleuze); Xerxes and ‘Persians’ (300), Cetshwayo and Zulus (Zulu), are no exception. These bodies act as channels of journeys from planetary conviviality to “Planetary Humanism” (Gilroy), bodies as breakers of race and gender hierarchies that are at play with/in epic cinema. Moreover, the chapter discusses both films’ “relation” (Glissant) to academic debates on the epic ‘genre’ while interrogating contemporary meaning/s of the term ‘epic film’. It suggests new perspectives on the ‘epic’ via tropes of eroticism, sensuality, sexuality, and ethnographic spectacle. Accordingly, the chapter engages with—and transcends—key characteristics of epic films while triggering an open-ended process of fluid corporeal connections able to begin erasing hierarchies in our still-emerging ‘post-race’ moment.

Keywords:   epic film, 300 (film), Zulu (film), black bodies, race, ethnography, historical film

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