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Title: A Game of Crones : contemporary Hollywood female stars, archetypes of ageing femininity, and the cinematic fairy tale reboot
Author: Newstead, K.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis brings together work on the fairy tale, feminist anthropology, and star studies to explore the figure of the crone archetype in the contemporary live-action cinematic fairy tale reboot, considering this as a neglected facet of the analysis of post-feminist media culture and its engagement with ageing femininity. Using Snow White and the Huntsman (Sanders, 2012), Maleficent (Stromberg, 2014) and Cinderella (Branagh, 2015), this thesis develops a series of case studies that unravel how ageing femininity is managed in various ways. A detailed examination of the off-screen personas of specific Hollywood stars, Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie and Helena Bonham Carter, and the way in which they resonate with their on-screen portrayals of the crone in each of the films named above, enables a discussion of ageing as complex and ambivalent. The fairy tale film offers a rich, safe space for working through some of the traumas and losses associated with growing old, particularly for women. On the one hand, these films seem unafraid to suggest that ageing involves fear, loneliness and a loss of desirability and agency. In this way, these texts can be seen to echo the historical function of the fairy tale as a device for women to negotiate difficult and emotive subjects that pertain to their experience of ageing within the restrictions of a patriarchal culture. On the other hand, this thesis reveals that many of these real-life anxieties are denied or shut down by the very presence of a star's off-screen persona. The glamorous and sexy female star body can perform unglamorous and unsexy ageing via the role of the crone, but she will always be restored to her youthful off-screen self. Therefore, the crone in the live-action fairy tale reboot provides a useful figure to unpack issues of ageing femininity in contemporary media cultures produced by Hollywood, both exposing and containing the ageing process.
Supervisor: Handyside, F. ; Hanson, H. Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: contemporary cinema ; ageing ; film stars ; femininity ; stardom ; archetypes ; fairy tales ; film ; cinema ; hollywood ; female life cycle