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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer: Narrative, Violence & Controversy.

Kimber, S., 2009. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer: Narrative, Violence & Controversy. In: Narrative Research Group (NRG) , 2 December 2009, Bournemouth University, England. (Unpublished)

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This paper draws upon research undertaken as part of a forthcoming book exploring the controversy surrounding Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986). Henry, the first independent feature film directed by John McNaughton, is a fictional character study based ‘loosely’ on the real life crimes of American serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Whilst the controversy surrounding Henry has been fuelled by a wide range of overlapping agents and factors this paper seeks to explore the intersecting roles of narrative and film violence within the longevity of that controversy. The first part of the paper will examine the way in which Henry, whilst working within the broad conventions of classical Hollywood narrative sought to challenge some of its codes, conventions and thematic preoccupations. It will be suggested that Henry’s positioning of itself as outside of Hollywood but linked to it and the multiple narrative tensions this creates, has been an important factor in the controversy surrounding the film. The second part will examine tensions between narrative and spectacle. This will be achieved though an examination of how Henry uses the spectacle of film violence to structure the films ‘narrative orchestration of violent attractions’ and guides the spectator’s emotional responses to that violence. It will be advanced that these factors have been key to Henry’s controversy amongst audiences, critics and censors.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:13569
Deposited By: Dr Shaun Kimber LEFT
Deposited On:06 Apr 2010 18:35
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:29


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