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A Hard Day’s Knights: Movie Time Travel, the Middle Ages, and a New Millenium

Keywords: cinema adaptation , timeline , Black Knight , time travel , Middle Ages , medieval , millennial anxiety , contemporary Age , Donner (Richard) , Crichton (Michael)

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This article addresses the cinematic treatment of the Middle Ages through an analysis of two recent mass-audience American films, Black Knight and Timeline, both of which feature time travel as a leading plot element. Providing context for this discussion is a brief analysis of other similar films, as well as remarks regarding Twain's Connecticut Yankee, Ruskin's The Stones of Venice, and The Idylls of the King by Tennyson. As in these other works, the films in question use certain popular stereotypes of the Middle Ages—endemic violence, rigid class distinctions, religious fanaticism, spiritual cohesion, etc.—as lens through which to view the contemporary world. In addition to their roles as comic or action entertainment vehicles, Black Knight indirectly addresses American individualism and a cutthroat modern corporate culture, whereas Timeline touches upon millennial anxiety, '90's ethnic cleansing, and the American misadventure in Iraq.


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