The road is an enduring theme in American culture; from "The Wizard of Oz" to "Thelma and Louise," and from "Bonnie and Clyde" to "Natural Born Killers," cinematic portrayals of road journeys continually captivate the American imagination. But what is so American about the genre and why does it translate well to some countries but not others?
In "The Road Movie Book," Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark collect essays that attempt to answer these, as well as other questions, about one of the key genres of modern cinema. Organized into three sections, the first, "Mapping Boundaries," contains essays that sketch broad themes and ideological tropes of the genre. The following section, "American Roads," further historicizes the issues raised in section one and traces the continual reinvention of the genre in Hollywood film from the early 1940s to the end of the 1980s. "Alternate Routes," the final section of essays, concentrates on road films that depart from the American landscape or that travel on its cultural margins to explore why the road movie is so pertinent to those who are alienated or marginalized by society. The essays discuss a broad range of films, including "Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, The Grapes of Wrath, It Happened One Night, Faster Pussycay Kill Kill , The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, " and "My Own Private Idaho." With 44 stills from the movies discussed, this fascinating collection is the most comprehensive volume devoted solely to the genre of the road movie.
"A serious guide to some of our favorite films. . . . [T]he international lure of the open road is thoughtfully mapped out in informed, well-illustrated essays."
-"Addison Press, June 1998