Here for the first time is a book that defines the historical
adventure movie, one of the most enduring, ever-popular, and
mythically significant American film genres. Despite the popularity
of historical adventure from the early days of filmmaking, never
before has this Hollywood genre been analyzed in a comprehensive
manner. Brian Taves's The Romance of Adventure includes an array of
subgenres - swashbucklers, tales of pirates, the sea, exploration,
and the building of empires - in films as diverse as The Mark of
Zorro, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, The
Buccaneer, Mutiny on the Bounty, Moby Dick, Captain Horatio
Hornblower, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Gunga Din, and The Man
Who Would Be King. The author's definition of the historical
adventure film emphasizes setting, consistent characterizations,
and precise codes of behavior. He illuminates its many branches and
shows how such activities as exploration of the world's remote
regions and individualistic, armed rebellions for freedom are
impelled by the adventurer's values - patriotism, chivalry, and
honor. Taves finds that such movies reflect an idealistic world
view and present history more as myth than as factual re-creation,
with adventure belonging to an era long past, when morality was
drawn in sharp relief. In romance adventure films the fight for
liberty may occur in the castles of Europe, on board a ship on the
high seas, or in colonies extending from the Spanish Main to India
and Africa. In this way Taves believes that these films
metaphorically depict the American Revolution, even though the
conflict's essential issues are set in various times and places and
indicate the timeless, universal need forliberty and freedom.
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