Film Fusions

The cult film in World Cinema

Authored by: Mark Goodall

The Routledge Companion to World Cinema

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138918801
eBook ISBN: 9781315688251
Adobe ISBN:


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As this collection makes abundantly clear, the concept of “World Cinema” can be hard to define. To further establish a sensible definition of what “cult world cinema” might be is to stretch, contort and confuse understanding even further. Scholars have made bold attempts at defining what “cult cinema” might be that range from the “informal” to the “intertextual” by way of the “subcultural”. For instance, Karl and Philip French’s notion of cult as an “intense personal interest and devotion to a person, idea or activity” sought to access the devotional, sacramental aspect of engagement with cinema (French and French 1999: 6). A study by Jancovich and colleagues argued that it is the reception of films and their distinction from, and opposition to, the “mainstream” that defines films as “cult” (Janovich et al. 2003: 2). Mathijs and Sexton (2011) later promoted a rich, intertextual sense of what cult cinema might be, while admitting that because the numerous attempts at defining cult cinema approach the subject from the perspective of the vernacular—“highlighting elements that cannot be caught in a description”—any definition of cult cinema must be tantalisingly “intangible” and “intersubjective” (Mathijs and Sexton 2011: 6).

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