AbstractsGeography &GIS

Of Rats and Men: How Willard Exemplifies the Fallacy in Polarized Understandings of the Categories of Man and Animal

by Salvör Bergmann 1990

Institution: University of Iceland
Year: 2015
Keywords: Kvikmyndafræði
Record ID: 1220594
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/21333


This essay provides an in-depth analysis of Glen Morgan’s 2003 film Willard in relation to an exploration of the issue of polarities, in particular those that separate man and animal. To analyse how the film not only displays said polarities, but subsequently showcases them as residing in fallacy, the categories of man and animal must at first be somewhat adhered to, where the human and animal characters of the film are recognized as originally residing in their separate spheres. It is then scrutinized how those characters exit these spheres, as well as how the spheres themselves seem to hybridize and intermingle. The essay consists of five segments; a foreword, three theoretical and analytical chapters, and a conclusion. The first chapter, “Man becomes Animal”, introduces Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s hypothesis of “becoming-animal” as a recurring focal point of reference throughout the analysis. It also explores film critic Robin Wood’s basic formula of horror in relation to the effect of a man and an animal being doubles. In addition of making use of animal studies alongside general film studies, the essay also utilizes studies of humanistic geography, as the chapter also includes Chris Wilbert’s workings with philosopher Karen Barad’s term “intra-action”. The second chapter, “Animal Becomes Man”, explores animal agency in film, making use of Jonathan Burt’s book Animals in Film. The issue of anthropomorphism is visited, which appropriates Sandra D. Mitchell’s essay on the matter. The nature of pet-keeping is also looked at, making use of humanistic geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s book on the subject. The third and final chapter, “Of Rats and Men”, with great help of Jonathan Burt’s book Rat, looks more generally to the representation of the film’s species, their superfluous relationship, and the matter of their separate spheres, concluding what it is that divides, and subsequently joins, rats and men.