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Embodied VisionsEvolution, Emotion, Culture and Film$
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Torben Grodal

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371314.001.0001

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Love and Desire in the Cinema

Love and Desire in the Cinema

(p.56) 3 Love and Desire in the Cinema
Embodied Visions

Torben Grodal

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the evolutionary causes for the fascination with romantic films and why more men than women watch pornographic films, using film examples throughout. It argues that romantic films and pair-bonding are not social-ideological constructions but constructions based on innate dispositions. It discusses the neurological support for romantic love and the evolutionary reasons for romantic bonds: to provide resources for the “too early” born and slowly maturing human infants. It further discusses how the male fascination with pornography is based on biological structures much older than the c.2 million years of romantic pair-bonding and how, therefore, mainstream pornography focuses on anonymous and strongly promiscuous relations. The chapter discusses how films often portray conflicts between romantic love and other concerns; for instance, how films noir often portray “fatal” conflicts between romantic love, promiscuous desire, and the desire for money. The chapter also discusses how many romantic films focus on the conflict between partner choice and exclusive partner commitment. The chapter finally discusses how romantic love plays and has played different roles in different cultural contexts, so that romantic love in film and literature has sometimes been linked to emancipation, and sometimes used for opposite purposes.

Keywords:   romantic films, visual pornography, evolution, neurology of love, film noir, human universals, bonding, mate selection

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