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Volume :14 Issue : 54 1996      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Cinematic Images Of the Arab World

Auther : Jack G. Shaheen

The intent of this essay has been to focus scholarly attention on the ways in which the conventions of Hollywood settings present the Arab world. Regrettably, little attention has been given to locales of films. Thus, this initial examination of the conventions of Arab film locales, and the ways in which those conventions of place are used in film, should help reveal whole sets of cultural assumptions within the films which both Americans and Arabs consume.

This study of film conventions provides a needed historical perspective that is a requisite coponent of how American cinema presents the Arab world. As film conventions are documented with some precision, they offer particularly telling clues into how Hollywood has selectively framed Arabia. The author presents a convincing case that the movies inherited 19th-century European attitudes, most of which are negative, toward Arabs. He explains how the "Ay-rabland" of contemporary films is virtually the same skewed landscape that film goers have seen for more than a century, in spite of the huge social changes that have transformed in the region. Finally, the author offers an explanation as to why Hollywoods cameras continue presenting a distorted reel image, in lieu of a more realistic Arab world.

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