cover of book

The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies
by Martin F. Norden
Rutgers University Press, 1994
Paper: 978-0-8135-2104-6 | eISBN: 978-0-8135-5568-3 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-2103-9
Library of Congress Classification PN1995.9.H34N67 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.436520816

Filmmakers have often encouraged us to regard people with physical disabilities in terms of pity, awe, humor, or fearas "Others" who somehow deserve to be isolated from the rest of society. In this first history of the portrayal of physical disability in the movies, Martin Norden examines hundreds of Hollywood movies (and notable international ones), finds their place within mainstream society, and uncovers the movie industry's practices for maintaining the status quokeeping people with disabilities dependent and "in their place."

Norden offers a dazzling array of physically disabled characters who embody or break out of the stereotypes that have both influenced and been symptomatic of societys fluctuating relationship with its physically disabled minority. He shows us "sweet innocents" like Tiny Tim, "obsessive avengers" like Quasimodo, variations on the disabled veteran, and many others. He observes the arrival of a new set of stereotypes tied to the growth of science and technology in the 1970s and 1980s, and underscores movies like My Left Foot and The Waterdance that display a newfound sensitivity. Nordens in-depth knowledge of disability history makes for a particularly intelligent and sensitive approach to this long-overlooked issue in media studies.
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