Graduate School Thesis

I wrote this thesis for my MFA at Montana State University in the Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program.

The abstract:

Noble Savage mythology appears in many films that depict Native Americans. In these films a character or characters will represent the wild, natural and savage side of this myth and other characters represent civilized society but also moral corruption. The natural and savage character will clash with members of civilized society and will be threatened or killed. In this paper I will show that the events and characters in some suburban films draw from these same Noble Savage myths and cultural beliefs. I will discuss these tropes in the films E.T. The Extraterrestrial, The Ice Storm, American Beauty, and Ordinary People. In these films the wild and savage side is valorized and the civilized side is denounced. I will show that this mythology has permeated into our cultural beliefs so thoroughly that it appears in films that have little to do with the original cultural, geographical and historical context that first produced this mythology.


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