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Frank, M.K. (1993). Unchained: Perspectives on Change. Free Associations, 4(1):117-128.

(1993). Free Associations, 4(1):117-128


Unchained: Perspectives on Change

Micheline Klagsbrun Frank

The comic-strip world has moved on to the screen — not just with the transposition of Batman, Dick Tracy and The Jetsons to the big screen, but with the invasion of Gremlins, Ninja Turtles and varieties of Robo-Cops into an apparently human world: ‘apparently human’ because the acceptance of superhuman forces is one of the givens of these stories. And even when the participants are clearly people like us, magical possibilities such as time travel, together with the invincibility of the heroes and the pace of the action, put films like the Back to the Future trilogy in this category. The attraction of this trilogy derives in large part from the perennial fantasy of changing one's life through magic. Other movies use the opportunity of time travel for more subtle internal kinds of change— for example, Scrooged. In contrast to these, a type of film that centres on psychic change yet keeps its characters’ feet on the ground seems to me to be epitomized by a certain scenario which I shall label the ‘odd-couple film’. A recent example, Midnight Run, harks back to an earlier paradigm — The Defiant Ones. (1958) — and also sums up trends visible in other types of recent films, from comedy to thriller. In this cluster I would include such diverse films as Rain Man, Twins, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.1

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