Jane Campion

Jane Campion

Authorship and Personal Cinema
Alistair Fox
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/28/2011
Format: Paperback 22 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22301-2
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2011

Alistair Fox explores the dynamics of the creative process involved in cinematic representation in the films of Jane Campion, one of the most highly regarded of contemporary filmmakers. Utilizing a wealth of new material—including interviews with Campion and her sister and personal writings of her mother—Fox traces the connections between the filmmaker’s complex background and the thematic preoccupations of her films, from her earliest short, Peel, to 2009’s Bright Star. He establishes how Campion’s deep investment in family relationships informs her aesthetic strategies, revealed in everything from the handling of shots and lighting, to the complex system of symbolic images repeated from one film to the next.

Author Bio

Alistair Fox is Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Research on National Identity at the University of Otago.


“Exploring the directorial work of an esteemed contemporary filmmaker, the author examines the relationship between her deep investment in family and creative process in filmmaking. ”

“Alistair Fox offers an impressively rich and thoroughly documented reading of Jane Campion's films. . . . [He] persuasively interprets them as working through the traumas of the artist's life. . . . Fox succeeds in resuscitating the biological author, giving us Jane Campion without the qualification of quotation marks around her name.”
 — Barry Keith Grant, Brock University

“In his book, Alistair Fox finds and illuminates the relations between diegetic worlds and the life of a "New Zealand Australian", Jane Campion.”
 — 25fps.cz

“This is easily the best, most comprehensive book now available on Campion and her work. . . . Highly recommended.September 2011”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Authorship, Creativity, and Personal Cinema
1. Origins of a Problematic: The Campion Family
2. The "Tragic Underbelly" of the Family: Fantasies of Transgression in the Early Films
3. Living in the Shadow of the Family Tree: Sweetie
4. "How painful it is to have a family member with a problem like that": Authorship as Creative Adaptation in An Angel at My Table
5. Traumas of Separation and the Encounter with the Phallic Other: The Piano
6. The Misfortunes of an Heiress: The Portrait of a Lady
7. Exacting Revenge on "Cunt Men": Holy Smoke as Sexual Fantasy
8. "That which terrifies and attracts simultaneously": Killing Daddy in In the Cut
9. Lighting a Lamp: Loss, Art, and Transcendence in The Water Diary and Bright Star
Conclusion: Theorizing the Personal Component of Authorship

Works Cited

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