orientalist swashbucklers

i’m teaching a new class next year on imperial adventure/intrigue narratives from the turn and first few decades of the 20th century. this is a 100 level class and will be light on theory. the reading list so far is as follows: conan doyle, the lost world; kipling, the man who would be king; sax rohmer, one of the fu manchu books; rider haggard, either she or king solomon’s mines; the first tarzan book; and herge, tintin in the congo. i’d welcome more suggestions for readings from the era, but what i’m mainly looking for here is recommendations for the secondary list of texts which will provide a (more or less) contemporary slant on the subject: action films that inherit/re-write/exploit the conventions of those texts. so far i have: the second indiana jones, the brotherhood of the wolf, the ghost and the darkness, zulu, and the mummy. i need two or three more. i’m not looking for high art or anything aimed as oscar bait (no out of africa). suggestions?

13 thoughts on “orientalist swashbucklers”

  1. Big Trouble in Little China maybe.
    King Kong, or even Lord of the Rings for that matter?
    Bond? Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun.
    Romancing the Stone or its sequel.
    Joe versus the Volcano.
    Conan the Barbarian.

    What about sci-fi? Avatar seems almost too on target.

  2. avatar is a great suggestion, actually–as it purports to be on the same side of the critique as the syllabus, while repeating all those tropes. as they’ve all likely seen it already it might make for a good end of term film.

    romancing the stone could be good–it’s been ages since i’ve seen it though, so don’t really remember it. i think joe vs. the volcano is not stupid enough to qualify.

    maybe the new karate kid? you’ve seen it, right?

  3. dear god, you’d make them sit through Brotherhood of the Wolf? what was that awful Matthew McConaughy thing… Sahara? ? the proliferation of low-budget adventure films on tv: Legend of the Seeker , The Librarian . certainly they are stupid enough…..

  4. Are you going to use the movie version of “The Man Who Would Be King”?

    I hate to suggest it but the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” offers a treasure trove of cultural stereotypes, including orientalist.

  5. Oh, and Bram Stoker’s Jewel of the Seven Stars (I think that’s the title), though it’s not all that good. Definitely not like Greenmantle, which is a ripping yarn.

    Stoker’s Lady Athlyne is quite good. It’s set in NY and Scotland/Northumbria and full of the influence of Otto Weininger but has a bit of back story from the Boer war (btw, Greenmanlte has a prominent ex-Boer character). You learn from Lady Athlyne that in Scotland at the turn of the century, speeding, as a traffic offense, was called “furious driving”.

  6. oooh, the stoker looks great, as does the buchan. since most of the books on my list are quite short i’m tempted to add both of these and perhaps make the films optional.

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