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dc.contributor.advisorRadner, Hilary
dc.contributor.advisorHohmann-Marriott, Bryndl
dc.contributor.authorTodd, Erica Roanna Morag Hawthorne
dc.identifier.citationTodd, E. R. M. H. (2011). Representing Romance at the Movies: Passionate Love and Film Genre (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis thesis analyses the way love is presented as the central storyline in cinema drawing upon genre studies and informed by sociology. It ultimately finds that there are two dominant Hollywood love stories: the first is the romantic comedy, which film scholars have explored extensively; the second stands in opposition and focuses on passion. No scholarly investigation currently exists of the latter type of love story as a group, as having generic consistencies, a gap this thesis seeks to remedy. Though this project primarily explores the passionate love story as a cinematic form, it also contributes, through comparison, to the research on romantic comedy, which foregrounds another type of love: companionate love. These two love stories offer different alternatives to their audiences. As such, this project has implications beyond cinema studies and seeks to add to our understanding of intimate partnerships as one of the primary mechanisms of socialisation. The research comprises seven chapters. Chapter one explores cultural assumptions, definitions and depictions of love. Through this analysis, two notable, distinct types of intimate relationships between men and women emerge: companionate love and passionate love. Chapter two takes the approach of genre studies, which seeks to find recurrent patterns in stories, in order to understand how these two definitions of love inflect cinematic stories about love. This examination finds that the majority of existing scholarship focuses on a single dominant genre dealing with love: the romantic comedy, which centres on the problems of representing companionate love. As no study has concentrated on films that foreground passionate love, this research isolates the possible traits that would allow these films to be classified as part of a film genre. The following chapters look closely at three Hollywood and one non-Hollywood passionate love stories to ascertain their features: chapter three at Casablanca (Michael Curtiz: 1942); chapter four at Titanic (James Cameron: 1997) and The Notebook (Nick Cassavetes: 2004); and chapter five at Pépé le Moko (Julien Duvivier: 1937). Chapter six takes the conclusions of these textual analyses and finds that there is a group of films that share similar traits, which make up a genre that could be called “romantic drama”. Though love is central to both genres, the romantic drama can be defined against the romantic comedy. Genres are considered to be audience driven, thus chapter seven looks at responses from two small groups of filmgoers. Participants in an online survey were able to recognise cinematic love stories and distinguish between romantic comedies and romantic dramas. In conclusion, this research argues that many cinematic representations of passionate love can be grouped as a genre. It speculates that in a period where there has been a renaissance of research on romantic comedies, passionate love stories have been neglected because they do not make up an immediately clear genre and are often hybrids. Furthermore, the companionate love model offers a portrayal of courtship that speaks to contemporary society in contrast with the idealistic passionate love model, which is associated with adolescence and irrationality
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectFilm Genre
dc.subjectRomantic Drama
dc.subjectTitanic (Film)
dc.subjectThe Notebook (Film)
dc.subjectPépé le Moko (Film)
dc.subjectCasablanca (Film)
dc.titleRepresenting Romance at the Movies: Passionate Love and Film Genre
dc.typeThesis, Film and Communication, Film and Communicationen_NZ of Philosophy of Otago Theses
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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